So this year was the 9th Annual Jame Garfield Miracle and if you followed it you probably know that it was filled with more awesomeness than ever and also more angst than ever. It makes sense, I guess. It grows and grows and the successes and failures grow with it. Honestly, I got frustrated several times and I considered making this the last year, but seeing the response from the people who were able to help and to be helped makes me realize that it’s worth the frustration. Important and worthwhile things are hard…if they were easy everyone would be doing them.
There’s never any guarantee that everyone will be helped (and in fact that would be impossible because the needs are always so great) but the willingness and desire to help everyone is there and I hope you felt it. Even if only one person was helped it was worth it, and there were so many. I’m already watching comments and emails come in from people who are so incredibly grateful on behalf of their children. Project Night Night was floored by our support and sent lovely pictures that I can’t share for privacy reasons but which made me so happy that I’m part of this community.
It’s hard to measure it precisely but I estimate that since 2009 over $450,000 has been given to help Christmas/Hanukkah happen for underprivileged kids and that’s mind-boggling. Just stranger helping stranger with no expectation except to make life easier for each other. It began nine years ago as an earnest gesture of someone trying to help someone else, regardless of the outcome…and that’s what it still is today. That’s what the holidays are all about. This is our gift. It’s the gift we give to ourselves and no matter if we helped 100 people or 100,000 I’m so proud to be a part of this. I hope you are too.
If you helped others this year, thank you. You give others hope. You give me hope. Even if you weren’t able to gift children you should know that you helped. This year I gave out $7k in toys and coats and books to kids who needed help and that money came from you…from the money I make here and from book sales and calendar sales. If you are here then you helped. Thank you.
If you were helped I hope you feel the same joy that we felt in helping. So many people who were helped in the past come in future years to help others. It’s a way of giving back and I’m so grateful that you let us be part of your holiday.
If you abused the system then, well, I’m sure you have a very hard life. I can’t imagine it was easy to make a decision like that and perhaps you had your reasons. A few days ago I was contacted by someone who asked for far more than they should have. They’d felt desperate and made a bad decision. I can relate to that. I told them what I will tell you if you are in the same spot right now. You don’t have to return the toys. They are a gift and it’s up to you what to do with them but if you want to do something truly wonderful then take the extra gifts and bundle your kids up and donate them to your local women’s shelter. (The toys…not the kids.) It feels amazing and it’s such a great way to teach your children the importance of giving and of appreciating what we have.
If you weren’t helped I’m sorry. Please take solace in the fact that people care. That you are not alone. That more good happened than bad…and that’s not always the case in life.
For those of you struggling this year I just want to tell you that you’ll get through this. If you’re struggling emotionally please reach out to friends and family. They love you more than you know. If you’re struggling financially please know this: The best toy your kid will get this holiday is you.
I grew up really poor but even during the tightest years I was happy. And if your children have you then they are happy too. When I was a kid if we couldn’t afford decorations my mom would pop a giant drum of popcorn on the stove and we’d thread it into popcorn strings that we’d hang all over and eat it like candy necklaces. It probably cost $1 and it is one of my favorite memories. Go to the library and check out a ton of great books to read to your kids on Christmas. Play charades. Play tag. Bury a shoebox of your old costume jewelry in the backyard and make a treasure map that takes your kids all over the house looking for clues as to where to dig. Write a poem for your child about what they mean to you. Tell secrets. Laugh. Then laugh some more.
Hug your loved ones tight if they are near. Send your love to them if they are not. Snuggle with your pets or go visit a shelter if you don’t have any. And if you are alone, know that you aren’t. Not really. Because we care. Even if you haven’t met us yet. People are going to love you, I promise.
Thank you again for letting me be part of something so hard, yet so worthwhile. Much like life.
This post isn’t for wish lists. It’s just to say thank you…from me to you. If you’d like to use it to thank others or tell an inspiring story or share great hints for how to feel less alone during the holidays that would be amazing. I think we could all use some good cheer and funny jokes and if I could find a way to let you imbed videos of otters eating in the comments I totally would because those damn things are practically medicinal at this point.