I know, I know…we are 36+ days past Christmas and I am now just getting up the last of Holiday Cheer. There is no good explanation. All I can say is maybe a part of me wanted the goodness dragged out a tad bit longer, maybe I wanted all of us to get a little boost from saving these last few days for a bit longer.
Day 22 belonged to Melissa. Melissa is a grandma, mom, wife, sister, aunt, and all around good person. Her daughter, Tara nominated her because she wanted her mom to know how much she is loved. Melissa has been through a great deal of loss and tribulation over the last couple of years. The great thing about Melissa is that you would never ever know it.
She always greets everyone with a smile and is so kind and generous. She lives life to the fullest and is always helping her family and friends. She always makes time for the people most important to her no matter what she might be going through. Melissa is most definitely a deserving recipient of Holiday Cheer. I am glad that we could honor this year with a gift to remind her just how special she is to so many.
Life is its own protection from death – Aliza Hubbs
Aliza, the artist, is today’s recipient. Aliza is a warrior, a true survivor. But more importantly she is a wife, friend, sister, daughter, mother.
I met Aliza in junior high. She was always kind, generous, and lived with such an open heart.
She and I had mutual friends and this year at holiday cheer time our friend Shaleen mentioned to me what Aliza had been through the past year. She had 6 surgeries all while fighting breast cancer, all while being a mom to a young child. I knew she was a perfect candidate for holiday cheer.
Aliza is an amazing, caring, compassionate, beautiful soul. I am in awe of her strength and courage as she chronicled some of her journey on her Facebook page. She was raw, honest and authentic as she shared her trials, pain, and gratefulness for life.
I wanted to share Aliza’s thank you card with all of you so that you could see that you do make a difference. Thank you to those that contributed to Holiday Cheer and helping spread goodness this holiday season.
So, I was starting to think I wasn’t going to be able to pull off Holiday Cheer this year and I was worried because I kept getting so many messages and little reminders from people who let me know we needed to do.
For one I got this text message I shared on FB a while back.
This was also shared on my wall not that long ago and this is from our Holiday Cheer 2 years ago.
I have also become friends with a nominee from 2 years ago and our We Can Do Hard Things sign hangs on her playroom wall.
So I knew that somehow I had to keep this going but how and what would our theme be that could apply to anyone?
Thank goodness for amazing and brilliant friends. Alyssa Wagner, whom many of you readers know, is the best ever and she sent me the brilliant idea of collecting donations and gift baskets from small business owners and then conducting a silent auction and using the $$$$ to buy the holiday cheer gifts! Alyssa, I adore you – this is exactly how we will fund Holiday Cheer this year!
So if you are a small business owner, or you have something that you make or sell and you would be willing to donate let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you would like to give. I will donate an individual reading and a group reading package! We can do this – together we can do this and pull this off.
Now remember Holiday Cheer is about letting those people in our lives know we think they are amazing. In the past we have sent gifts to single moms, young kids fighting huge challenges, special education teachers, and those that were struggling with life circumstances and doing it with a positive attitude just to name a few examples. It can really be anyone as long as you have a compelling case to share about their extreme AWESOMENESS!
I have always thought it was important to let others know that they are AWESOME just by being who they are. To take a moment and make sure that ordinary, every day people who do extraordinary things day in and day out know that they are appreciated and recognized.
So this year our theme comes from a quote from my favorite book:
“Real courage is when you know you are licked before you begin, but you begin any way and see it through no matter what.” – To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.
So many people I have met this past year are facing each day with challenges that would knock the best of us to our knees and yet they not only stand, but continue to put one foot in front of the other and execute each day with the best and most positive attitude they can muster. They live any way, love any way, give any way. So real courage is seeing something through no matter what – like a boss!
I know you know people like this too. I can’t wait to hear about your nominees and I know everyone else that is going to take part in Holiday Cheer this year – those that are willing to donate – they can’t wait to hear about them either. So if you have a nominee; man, woman or child let me know. You can email me the nominee and why you think they should be nominated and what some of their interests are or some type of gift you think they might like.
Once I receive the nominees, I will let you know if they will be chosen for this year (we haven’t turned anyone down yet). Then I will get the gifts together. Usually something nice and I will make sure we include a framed print with the quote. Then on December 1st all the way through the 25th of December a gift is delivered each day to a nominee. If you are not local – no problem we have shipped gifts to Colorado, Southern California, and Utah. I can ship the gift anywhere.
I then share the nominee’s story and reason for being nominated on my blog so that we can all follow along with sending them cheer.
That is it; it is that simple.
I am looking forward to those that can donate and learning more about the nominees that you have in mind. Email me at email@example.com and let’s get this Holiday Cheer started for 2015!
“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”
– Rita Pierson, Educator
Jacinda Barker embodies what Rita Pierson speaks of. Jacinda, mother of 3, works with special needs students in the Gilroy Unified School District. She is a mainstay at my children’s school and knows all the students by name. Her positive energy and smile follow her wherever she goes.
Most people wouldn’t know the things Jacinda does day in and day out because she never ever mutters an ounce of contempt or complaint. Last year I happened to sit next to her on the way home from a field trip to Monterey and as we started talking her beauty unravelled before me. Jacinda loves her job and her students. She believes in each one and does everything humanly possible to help them reach their potential. Her passion is contagious.
She is no different at home and you can see it in her children. Each of them exude their mother’s kind spirit. Jacinda also cares for her uncle who has been disabled since birth. He has lived with their family for the last ten years.
Presenting Jacinda with her gift yesterday was such a treat. Jacinda you are a love and I am inspired by how much time and effort you put into not only your own family but to other’s families as well. You work tirelessly to make such a difference in the lives of children and there is nothing that is more honorable than that.
“The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life and make you see sun where you once saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, you start to believe in you too. The people that love your simply for being you. The once in a lifetime kind of people.” – Unknown
Katrina is a wife, mother of three, second grade teacher, church youth group leader, friend, and an extraordinary person. When Dorothy nominated Katrina I was 100% on board because Katrina is so deserving of holiday cheer. She truly is a once in a lifetime kind of person.
I have known Katrina for almost a decade and never once have I seen her unhappy or depressed. She is always looking at the glass half full. Katrina has run the Nike Half Marathon several times all to raise money for the Leukemia in honor of one of her former students who lost his fight with the disease. She has traveled with her church to build homes for others. She is actively involved in her community and church. And best of all she is a great wife, mother, and friend.
One of the things that I find extraordinary about Katrina is that she is the mom of a mostly non-verbal, 5 year-old autistic boy. With her overflowing plate Katrina still does everything she can to provide the best resources for him.
Last year her son was part of the Everyone Plays photo shoot that is put on by Infantino and Step 2. Kelle Hampton from the blog Enjoying the Small Things wrote about the experience in her blog here.
The two photos below are a couple of my favorites from the photo shoot and they are originally seen on Kelly Hampton’s blog so if you click them it will take you to that original source.
Sending the message that we are all the same underneath is a beautiful one – that no matter what may make us unique or individual we all play the same. Wonderful and breath-taking and it is so fitting that Katrina was a part of something so important. She takes initiative to make the world a better place and makes you better just for having known her.
Katrina also posted this TED talk on her Facebook Page and it gives some insight to the autistic mind, but also reminds us that “normal” is not a compliment. And furthermore that striving to be “normal” is really something we should avoid. Instead we should celebrate our uniqueness. If you have 6 minutes it is worth viewing:
Thank you, Dorothy for nominating Katrina. Thank you, Katrina for just being you. You make the world brighter just by being in it.
Warm wishes and lots of cheer to last you the whole year through,
A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.
― Steve Maraboli
Holiday Cheer Day 5 brought some much-needed cheer to Michelle. Michelle was nominated by Bettina. Bettina took a moment to put into her own words why she felt Michelle should be a recipient:
“Michelle is a single mom who loves her kids so much. Being separated recently, she took all the ups and downs in life with grace and I am so proud of her for holding her head high and sticking to her gut when it came to life decisions. Going through a separation is hard, but she also lost her father and brother to cancer in less than a year. She has been through so much pain in the past year and I wish her lots of happiness for the future.”
Today I am so grateful that these two friends had a moment to share how they inspire one another. I know that they spent Thanksgiving together and really are family to one another.
Letting those that nominated this year deliver the gifts has been so rewarding. Bettina wrote me last night and I just have to share:
And now my friends, I will call all of you who have helped put this together the “Cheer Squad”. I can not tell you how grateful I am to all of you.
But, I think Michelle described it best in her Facebook post last night:
Wishing you a year full of happiness to keep your cup running over, Michelle!