Tomorrow is my birthday and (because I am born in that dead period between Christmas and New Years) I can say that I am 47 today, and in a week I’ll be able to say “I will be 50 next year.” This was always a nice sort of trick that worked well in my favor when I couldn’t wait to be 10 or 16 or 21 but then it sort of lost its magic around age 30 when I was convinced that I was behind on every single thing in life. And then in my 40s I’ve sort of ignored age because 40 is the new 30 according to people who are 40, but 50 feels a lot like the time in life when I should maybe start to become “serious and more mature” but I just spent the morning looking for the perfect place to display my newly-arrived taxidermied squirrels doing the Lindy Hop and then I sort of realized that becoming serious and more mature wasn’t actually an option for me even if it was something I’d ever wanted.
Usually I reserve my rundown of instagram videos that I thought you should see until a Friday but this week is Xmas and that means that this whole week counts as a Friday so step into my office so for a few minutes of adorableness and joy.
Also, we just finished a whole week of James Garfield Miracles and in spite of the fact that I was beaten to the xmas lists by wonderful, giving strangers over and over I still managed to send 114 stuffed animals to sweet children in need of an extra bit of joy and I am considering it a resounding success because pretty much everyone with a valid list was helped and that is amazing. Thank you to everyone who gave and everyone who reached out for help. YOU ARE ALL MAGIC.
Hello and welcome to year 12 of the James Garfield Miracle!
What is the James Garfield Miracle, you ask? You must be new here. Welcome!
12 years ago I walked into an estate sale and fell in love with an ancient taxidermied boars head that seemed so damn happy to see me.
I did not buy him and spent a week in light mourning. Then the next week A MIRACLE HAPPENED and James Garfield came into my life forever. (I’m staring at him right now, in fact and he is still glorious.)
But Victor wasn’t completely thrilled that we’d spent $90 on a literal Christmas miracle of mangey fur and missing teeth so I decided that I’d make holiday cards of James Garfield to make up for it and if I sold a couple dozen it’d be like James Garfield was making us money.
But then everyone went crazy and James Garfield made more that week than I did in my actual job and so I decided that I’d take all the money James Garfield made and use it to give presents to the kids of people who were struggling that year. And I bought gifts for the first 30 something people and then I ran out of money but then suddenly everyone in the comments were like, “I WANT TO HELP A STRANGER! LET ME BUY A GIFT FOR SOMEONE” and that’s how this suddenly became 12 years of a strange community project of strangers helping strangers anonymously and it’s pretty damn amazing.
Over the years we’ve had many different iterations of the James Garfield Miracle and the only real downside is that it can be easy for a scammer to slip in and ask for stuff for themselves so we decided to go back to the basics and just give out teddy bears. Why? Because everyone loves teddy bears (hell, I love teddy bears) and if someone is going to go to the trouble to make an entire wishlist account for a teddy bear they definitely need one.
So this year I am sending out 100+ teddy bears to kids.
That’s it. Just sweet, snuggly teddy bears. Well, not just teddy bears because the teddy bears have eyes that babies can swallow (stop swallowing eyes, weird babies) so I’m also adding a few other stuffed animals you can choose from if you have an eye-devouring baby or your child has a bear phobia or Amazon sells out of teddy bears.
But that’s it. Simple. Easy. Not perfect because in a perfect world everyone would get everything they need but I’d like to imagine that even people who may be disappointed that we’re just doing stuffed animals will at least be happy imagining all the kids finding unexpected fluffy new stuffed animals in their arms this holiday. It makes me smile, at least.
So, if you are struggling this year and you need help getting your child a present for Christmas/ (late) Hannukau/winter solstice/whateveryoucelebrate then I am ready to Santa Claus it up and drop one lovely plushie at your doorstep.
Reversible Octopus plushies (these are all over tiktok. Your kid uses it to show their mood. Just pick the color you want and add it to your list)
Currently these are all between $15-$23 each but Amazon can be wonky about changing up the prices when things run low or running out of stock so if I see that happening I’ll come back here to add other choices to choose from to replace any that sell out or suddenly skyrocket in price from $20 to $180. (Wtf, Amazon?) If I haven’t bought you a stuffy it’s probably because they sold out, jacked up the price or you forgot to add your address so just come back and try again.
(Also, I always use the profits I make on affiliate links to buy toys for kids and all of the royalties from the 2022 Bloggess Calendar go to this as well, so that means that if you’ve even clicked on a link this year then you are the reason why I’m going to be able to buy toys for at least 100 kids this year. That is amazing and I’m so grateful. Thank you!)
The wishlists will be posted in the comments so (as always) if you want to buy a present for a stranger you totally can. Or you can donate to Project Night Night, an amazing organization that provides a tote bag, book, stuffed animal and security blanket to homeless or displaced kids throughout the year. They are FANTASTIC and they have more requests than they can fill so I cannot recommend them enough. In fact, this morning I donated $500 to them in your name. Happy holidays!
(Also, I know a lot of you are asking why I don’t just do this through my bookshop instead of Amazon and I’d love to but 1) our wonderful employees would be swamped with extra work 2) we don’t have a way to make a registry work online yet. But maybe one day we’ll figure it out and have enough employees to do it and be able to use all the profits to help more people. Just not this year.)
SO…if you want in on this you have to read all the directions and stick to the rules or otherwise you will be set on fire and pushed out a moving plane. Or maybe I’ll just delete your comment and look at you with that disappointed look your mom gives you when she knows you’re trying but are still fucking up. One of those. Here are the rules:
IF YOU WANT TO GIVE:
Okay, how do I do this?
You are my special angel. Just look in the comments and find someone who has an unfilled Wishlist. I’m going to buy at least 100 but there are always more than I can handle. (If there’s nothing on their list when you click it it means their toy was already bought- yay!) Buy their present and make sure when you check out that you select their shipping address. (It won’t give you their full address but it’ll tell you the town you’re shipping it to.) If you try to fill a wishlist but it doesn’t give you a shipping address to choose that means the person didn’t assign a shipping address to the list so delete their present out of your cart and go to the next wishlist. If it says “these are duplicates. Someone else may have already bought this” when you try to check out then someone else already bought the stuff so delete it and try another one.
But what if I don’t live in America?
Check the comments because we often have Canadians and others outside the US who need help and I can’t fill those lists because shipping kills me so if you want to adopt a family, this is a great way to do it.
IF YOU NEED HELP:
You are my special angel. Here are the things you have to know: You have to make a BRAND NEW wishlist, you can only choose one stuffed animal per child to put on your wishlist, and it has to be one of the ones above. I’ll walk you through it below. Then just come to this post and leave a comment telling us the city and State you’re in (it has to match what you have on your wishlist), how many kids you have, and a link to your wishlist. Do not make multiple wish lists. Just make one. One of the most important things (people do this wrong every year so PLEASE do this part right) is that you have to assign a shipping address for this specific wishlist. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it before or think it’s on your profile. You have to do it for this new wishlist specifically or it won’t work. I’ll give you the details on setting up the wishlist below.
What if I want to make wish lists to surprise other people who I think need help?
Nope. But you can totally tell them to come here and make their own.
I’ve never done this before. How do I make a wishlist?
It’s pretty quick and easy if you follow the formula. I’ll walk you through:
On Amazon, click on “Accounts & Lists” (on the top right) and then on “Create a list”on the drop-down.
Name it “James Garfield 2021” then choose “create list”.
On the right you’ll see something that says “…More“. Click on that and choose “Manage list.” Change “private” to “PUBLIC” so I can see it. In the description part box just put how many kids your list is for. YOU MUST ADD YOUR ADDRESS FOR THIS SPECIFIC LISTso click on the drop-down for the shipping address and change it from “none” to your address. PLEASE DON’T SKIP THIS PART. Please make sure that the checkboxes for “keep purchased items on your list” and “don’t spoil my surprises” are NOT selected. Save changes.
Now just go pick one of the stuffed lovies for your kiddo. When you have the one you want click on the “Add to list” drop down arrow on the right (it’s under where the price is) and then select your “James Garfield 2021” list. Click “view your list” to make sure it’s there. If everything is right you should have your stuffed animal(s) on the wishlist page and when you click on the “…more” button it should say your wishlist public and your address should show up in the “…more” box and “don’t spoil my surprises” and “keep purchased items on your list” should NOT be checked. (People will see the city and state you are in but the rest of your address is hidden from everyone else.)
If you have another kid just go back to the list and pick a present for them and add it to the same list.
Copy the link to your wishlist. Now you go to the comments below and leave a comment saying how many kids you have, what city and state you are in, and a paste in the link to your wishlist. That’s it!
PS. Please please please double check before you hit the submit button that you have assigned a shipping address to your wishlist, that your comment has a link to your wishlist, the city and state you live it and the number of kids you have. Love!
PPS. This is one of my favorite things to do each year but it isn’t perfect. Every year some boxes go missing. Some get delivered after Christmas. Miscommunications happen. But I’d rather try to do something small and wonderful even if it isn’t perfect. Thank you to every single person who asks for help, to every single person to who helps and especially to those who have done both. Every year we have people who’ve been helped before who are so happy to help this year, or people who’ve helped before but now need help themselves. I know what it feels like to be in both of those places and I’m wishing love and light to every single person who reads this.
PPPS. When you choose something for your wishlist make sure it says “delivers before xmas” because some of the things may sell out and not restock in time. 🙂
I pretty much never do ads on my blog (except for the amazing people on my sidebar who keep this site running and who you should totally visit) but about once a year I make an exception for a company I truly love and today that company is Storyworth, who I adore for many reasons including the fact that this little blog post will help fund the James Garfield Miracle which will probably happen on Monday. So read on, because just reading this means you’re helping kids have presents this holiday. EVERYONE WINS.
I super love Storyworth and if you’ve never heard of it before you owe me one because it’s honestly one of my favorite things. Here’s how it works:
You choose someone you love who you want to know more about…a parent, aunt, husband, old friend….and every week for a year Storyworth emails them a different question about their lives. (“If you were to do it over what would you do differently?” “Have you ever feared for your life?” “What things matter most to you?”) You get to see the questions first and can pick and choose which ones you think are the best and skip the ones you don’t like. Then they just email back their answers. Easy-peasy. At the end of the year Storyworth wraps up all the questions and answers into a beautiful hardback book of memories that quickly becomes a family heirloom. I did one for my mom and one for my dad and they were so perfect that I ended up buying extra copies for my sister and I because Storyworth uncovered stories we never knew or thought to ask. I only wish I’d done it while my grandparents were still alive because I would have loved to read their stories. (If yours are still alive go do this RIGHT NOW.)
It’s also wonderful because every time they answer a question you also get a copy of their emailed answers and it’s such a great way to continue conversations and stay in communication even when you can’t be together. Also? You know who else you could give it to? You. Because honestly the questions are amazing writing prompts and if you’re looking for inspiration and motivation in your own writing life this is quite good. I’ve actually used a few myself to remember stories that I might have forgotten otherwise.
And through the rest of this month you can get $10 off so that means all the story prompts emailed every week and compiled into a lovely hardcover book are yours for just $89. (And you can buy extra copies at the end if you like.) I cannot recommend it enough. If you’re interested just click here to find out more details and get started.
I’m always very excited with a new translation of one of my books comes out, mostly because it gives me a chance to use google-translate to try (and fail) to determine what what the cover says. I just got the Polish version of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and it did not disappoint:
And now I just turn on the google translate camera and it’ll automatically try to translate the text even though it seems to be in cursive. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG.
Huh. Let’s try again.
I mean, it’s not inaccurate.
You can’t tell me what to do.
Well, that’s a little insulting. But actually really close. One more time?
PS. I’m going to sign books at Nowhere sometime this weekend so if you want a personalized copies for the holidays you can order them here and we’ll ship anywhere. Also, if you write “surprise me” in the comments of the order form I may implicate you in an exciting crime just to make life more mysterious when your grandchildren find the book later.
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MW Kaisla is the author of The Oracle Series, a modern day urban fantasy series featuring dangerous cults, superpowers, and journeys of discovery. Follow the Oracle as she learns how to navigate life, survival, and the complex ins-and-outs of building a family with people outside of society.