A different kind of Christmas.

To say that this year has been one wild ride is perhaps the biggest understatement of 2016. I’ve seen so many posts lately from people who are desperately searching for ways to make a difference as we start the annual process of looking forward to all the excitement of a new year, new opportunities, new ideas, new resolutions. This year, I know that many Americans, in particular, are looking for ways to heal themselves and support their neighbors, friends, and family in wake of the (arguably largest upset of a) presidential election (in this country’s history). I am one of them.

I didn’t sleep the night my mom died. I was waiting for the call that she had taken her last breath after she decided she had fought enough. A few weeks later I didn’t sleep much the night of the election. I was hoping so hard for a turnaround after initial predictions had Trump winning. Both mornings that followed were a fog. The election results are still foggy. But it was in that fog that I made a decision to do something to help, particularly as I still reeled from the loss of my mom right before the holidays.

Every year I go a bit overboard for Christmas. I love love love buying presents for people. I love nothing more than to make people smile. And at the same time nothing makes me sadder than knowing that so many people go without over the holidays. Every year I try to do what I can to help make a difference – I adopt families, I pay off layaway orders at big box stores… and I make sure that I buy the coolest things I can find for my nieces and nephews (those I’m related to and those I’ve adopted), brother and sister, mom, and others. (I also give to several charities but I do that throughout the year.) I cannot help myself. All of the people that I buy presents for already have gifts under the tree but I still do what I can because it brings me great joy. But this year I’m mixing things up.

This year, while I cannot help everyone, I am making an effort to help as many people as I can. Rather than buy gifts for the people in my life I love so dearly, I am taking all the money I’d usually spend over the holidays (including my own gift, an annual tradition I started years ago) to put together Christmas gift bags for the homeless. Over the next two weekends, my brother and I will scour the streets of the greater NYC area to find the best deals and steals to maximize gifts. We’ll swing by Kmart with the hope that there are a couple of families with toys on layaway so that we can pay them off and imagine the happiness when a sales associate calls the parent(s). On Christmas Eve we’ll pack up bags filled with warm things, food stuffs and toiletries. And then on Christmas Day, we’ll bundle up and roam the city streets to find people who need things more than we do. Then we’ll go hang out with family and friends.

I know there are homeless people who will snub us for doing this. I’m OK with it. I also know that there are people who will appreciate it and maybe we’ll make a few people smile. That, more than anything, is what it’s all about.

Wondering how you can help? If you have a few extra dollars laying around, Venmo me. I’ll send you a receipt with the gifts you purchased. Together, we’ll help more people. Live in the NYC area (and we’re friends IRL because safety first) and want to help stuff or hand out bags? Message me. None of the above? Take a minute today to smile at a stranger. Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks. Open the door for someone. Let someone with fewer things than you in their shopping cart skip ahead of you. There are so many small things that make a difference. Find one that works for you and make it happen.

Sending you all so much love this holiday season. All the best. xoxo

Photo source.

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