Our 9th year

October 2nd marked our 9th time getting dressed for the weather to trek out to the Autism Speaks Walk on Long Island.  Our son Troy who has autism is at an age now where he knows about his condition and he’s pretty open about it.  It’s incredibly cool actually how he can sometimes be so comfortable in his own skin.  He talks about having autism and he really appreciates all the friends and family that come out or donate to support him.

I did a rough addition of the money we’ve raised over these 9 years and was amazed it was over $11,000.  Not too bad but 2017’s walk is going to be super special.  It will be out 10th and Troy will be 13.  Go big or go home I always say and 2017 is definitely going big.  Stay tuned.

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Memories of Christmas past

To continue in the theme of memories of Christmas one of the other holiday memories I have is one Christmas morning when I as a small child in Brooklyn woke up crazy crazy early as most of us do. I couldn’t wait any longer to see what Old Saint Nick put under the tree.

I remember I was about 6 and we lived in a railroad apartment in Greenpoint.  My bedroom was next to my parents and it was the second to last room in the apartment.  I was extra quiet so as not to alert my parents to my plans.  I slowly walked through my brothers room which was the gateway to the living room.  As I entered the glorious presents filled room it seemed like a wonderland with miles of wrapping paper and ribbons of all colors covering boxes of all shapes and sizes.

I started to snoop around to see which had my name on it.  Unfortunately that year Santa must have run out of name tags so nothing was marked.  I sat there for a moment and tried to figure out how best to resolve the situation. I could have gone back to bed.  Nah what fun would that have been.  I could have woken up my brother and/or parents but they would have just told me to go back to bed and again what fun would that have been.  So I went with what I determined to be the best option.  I opened up all the gifts just enough to determine if it was for me (or if I liked it) and then moved on to the next one.  Needless to say when my parents arose to find every present ripped open they were less than pleased.

How was I supposed to know that Santa also dropped off presents for my Dad’s 5 brothers and sisters and their families, and my grandmother.  That does explain why some weren’t Barbies.  What did I learn from this experience? Make sure Santa is fully stocked with name tags and that my mother was a special woman since she let me live that day.

Times to remember

This time of year I always think of all the wonderful experiences around the holidays I had growing up.  Not every year did we have lots of money for gifts but every year and in every memory we were rich in love.

I know that sounds a bit contrived especially coming from girl from Brooklyn (the old Brooklyn not the shiny one of current days) but I’m serious.  We had a couple Christmas’ where money was very tight or something went very wrong but we found a way to make the best of it. I’m going to share a few posts with stories from Christmas pasts to both warm your heart and maybe even give you a laugh or two.

Today I’m going to dedicate this post to a story that always reminds me of my mother.  She passed away 24 years ago today and this story has always been my all-time favorite.  It shows how she always gave of herself and was always looking to save someone.

A few weeks before Christmas 1986 my mother decided that we were going to adopt a less fortunate family to give them a wonderful holiday.  There is a great program in NYC in partnership with the USPS, Operation Santa Claus. Participating post offices you can pick a letter and buy for the family.  Now due to privacy you drop off the items back to the post office but back then you were given the address and you dropped off directly at the family.

I went shopping with my Mom and Dad and we bought clothing, coats, toys and even food to give this family a Christmas they would remember. My Dad felt he was finally blessed at his job and we had the money to do it and we should.  We went to A&S (yes the old store) which also had a yearly bear or mascot each holiday.  I had told my mother I wanted to get the A&S bear that year for the holiday. With that my Dad bought one for me and one for my mother and added 2 more for the 2 kids in the family we adopted.

After all that shopping we headed home to our apartment, exhausted. Dad parked the car in a spot on the street a couple blocks away and we were too tired to drag everything out of the trunk.  We settled ourselves down for a long winter nap.  The next day Dad and I left the house so he could drop me off  to school on the way to work.   To our horror the car was gone and so was all the stuff we bought for our adopted family.  The car was found but it was stripped and everything was taken. Even my favorite roller skates that were in the back seat floor. They were dirty and warn out but someone still decided to take those because apparently an entire trunk of new gifts weren’t enough.  I’m not bitter.

We immediately thought what do we do now? We bought everything again! It wasn’t the family’s fault so we didn’t punish them.  Days before Christmas we managed to find everything again except the A&S bear was a limited edition so they only had two.   I remember my Mother and I both decided to take those two bears and give them to our adopted family.  They would appreciate them more than we would.

Getting back to the difference with the program, back then you had to drop the items directly off with the family at their home.  I remember driving to their home on a cold winter day.  My Mom and Dad parked in front of their home and they left my sister and I in the car as they walked up to the door.  We couldn’t hear what they were saying but I remember seeing the family tearing up and being so appreciative.  My mother also got emotional and there was also hugging and shaking of hands as my Dad brought everything from the car.

From that day I decided to continue that process of giving.  It always brings a tear to  my eye and a warm feeling in my heart when I think about and retell this story. I hope everyone takes this holiday season to jump start a process of giving either via donation of money, items, time, compassion, love, or generally of yourself.