Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Season of Giving and the Gift of Receiving

Being in academia means that my family is subjected to an academic calendar schedule, which coincides the conclusion of the semester with the end of the year holiday season.  It’s maddening, but I’ve tried over the years to pace myself, figure out what we can and cannot realistically do, limit travel plans, and keep the gift giving to a minimum. I try not to bake or eat too many cookies, try to keep exercising, make the holidays special for my family, and am sure to get out in the snow and cold as often as I can. 

This time of year—be it Christmas, solstice, or Hanukkah that we are celebrating—is  a time of gift giving, reflecting and merry making.  It is also the time of year that the fundraising letters arrive and people’s charitable side comes out.  I’m acutely aware that we are now on the “list.”  At first I was feeling a little weary about being on the charity “list”.  I’ve been the one that likes to make donations to local non-profits I believe are doing good works for others in need.  I don’t know that I necessarily feel comfortable being a charity case myself.  But then again, really, who does? None of us want to be seen as down-in-the-dumps, poor and needy individuals.  But it’s also a fact that these little gifts of generosity really do make a difference for our family and million of other families (especially given these current economic times!).   The point is, there are a lot of generous souls out in the world, and somehow this season marks an impulse of giving.   And some of us are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of such splendor!

So because I’m a busy mom of twins who works full-time and finds sending individual appreciations to folks almost impossible, here are my official holiday thank yours:

  • Thanks to the Vermont Nursing Association who gave my family tickets last weekend to see the holiday play at the local university.  Sylvie fell asleep, but Umea was enamored with the Christmas fairy. 
  • Thanks to Kathleen G., the Executive Director at Dream Day on Cape Cod for offering a free holiday weekend get away at South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. I’m sorry we couldn’t take advantage of the invite, but Sylvie’s cold and labored breathing is getting much better. 
  • Thanks to the Vermont Family Network who connected us with some great families when we moved back into the area.  It’s assuring knowing there are organizations like this out there with tons of resources for us families with medically complicated kids.
  • Thanks to my dentist who not only re-fixed one of my front teeth free of charge the second time around, but also served as the liaison between the binkie fairy and our pacifier-addicted 4 year old!   
  • Thanks for respite funds for families like ours that arrives unexpectedly via the USPS from random state and local government agencies that I didn’t even know existed until we had Sylvie.
  • Thanks to the excellent educational team and PCAs that care and advocate for Sylvie.
  • Thanks to Eric who keeps inviting us to various wonderful gatherings at his house even though we haven’t the energy or foresight to reciprocate the invites. It’s hard for us to get there on time; we don’t take these invites for granted.   
  • Thanks to our friends Nick and Judy who are incredibly generous with their time and resources, and who kindly gave us a weekend away to Central Vermont where we got to see our first snow of the winter and hang out by the fire with good friends.
  • Thanks to women like Christine Shaver, Elizabeth Edwards, and Parent to Parent USA founder Nancy DiVenere who demonstrate to me time and again that being a smart, thinking mother means dealing with life’s great unexpected twists with fire, resilience and humor. 

Happy Holidays all.  May you accept whatever gifts and help come your way this time of year—we could use a little perk for this hard road we’re traveling.  


When Kirsten isn’t grading massive amounts of student papers as a professor of Communication Studies at the State University of New York, she bakes cookies and builds snowgirls with her 4-year old twin girls.  She cannot believe it’s been almost a year since she wrote her first post for Hopeful Parents, reflecting on holidays with a chronically ill kid. 


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