The Real Focus of the Holidays

I had a really tough time turning 25 years old.

Looking back, I have no idea what my mindset was at that time in my life. I guess I thought I was getting old. The fact that my little sister told me that I was “a quarter of the way to death” probably didn’t help. (My response, in my fragile state: “Yeah….if you live to be 100!”)

One thing I do remember was a piece of advice that I received from a friend of mine. “Take the focus off of yourself,” she said. “Put the emphasis on someone less fortunate than you. Give back.”

That’s when I got involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and kick-started my mid-20s in grand fashion.

My friend was right. Even though I was attending the world’s biggest pity party, there were other people, groups, and causes that were struggling with a lot more than a 25th birthday.

That’s what I want everyone to remember as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, and the economic turmoil in this country is causing EVERYONE to have a metaphorical 25th birthday.
I would like to echo the advice I was given exactly nine years ago: “Take the focus off of yourself and put the emphasis on someone less fortunate than you. Give back.”

I know things are tight, but they are tight for EVERYONE.

If you’re a middle-class family of four that is feeling the brunt of the economic crunch, how do you think a single mom – who is working two jobs to support her three kids AND her brand new grandchild – is doing? What about the dad in the exact same situation? (The only difference with him…there is good chance that he was just laid off.)

While it might simply be a tighter belt for you, it’s a daily punch to the gut for them.

From now until Christmas I will be sharing unique ways you can remove that focus from yourself and give back during this holiday season. (If you have any causes that tug at your heartstrings – I would encourage you to share those as well in the Comment section at the bottom of this blog.)

My first opportunity to share has a special place in my heart, and there is a tremendous opportunity for you to help to help deliver some Christmas magic.

e-Partners in Giving, my new company, is hosting the inaugural Safe Haven Christmas Extravaganza at Fort Worth’s Presbyterian Night Shelter. Safe Haven is the mentally ill wing of the homeless shelter. It houses 20 residents that I have come to know very well through my volunteer efforts over the last seven months.

We are prepared to throw them a genuine holiday bash on Dec. 22nd – with food, music, decorations, and gifts.

It’s the gift aspect of the Extravaganza where there is a fantastic opportunity to briefly take the focus off of yourself.

I am asking 15 people who read this blog to adopt a Safe Haven client this holiday season. We have set a price point of $35 that will help us buy one present and stuff one stocking for each resident. (We’re only asking for 15 because five people have already generously offered to support our Extravaganza.)

Each resident submitted a Christmas list – and it would break your heart to read what they asked for. You would think they would have wished for the stars, but they were all very practical. Here are a few samples:

• Wal-Mart gift card
• Tennis shoes
• A coat
• Perfume and cologne

Some were a little more “over-zealous,” asking for a radio, CD player, or a watch, but there was not one single outrageous request.

One gentleman simply asked for, “To stay sober; Give to others; Recover Physically.”

They all need so much, but they all want so little. That makes me smile.

Our stocking stuffers will include things like socks, toiletry items, candy, and other items that Santa would leave at our house on Christmas morning.

In regards to how you want to handle the gifts and stocking stuffers – we want to make it as easy on you as possible. If you would like to go shopping yourself – that’s awesome. (We will supply you a list and send you on your way.) If you want to give us the $35 and let us take care of the rest – we can do that, too.

Just send me an e-mail and let me know.

I will go ahead and say thank you to everyone in advance. I only send this blog to a certain number of people – each one of you has the heart and spirit to answer the bell, re-shift the focus off of yourself, and help us give back. Your support and generosity is appreciated more than you will ever know.

I encourage you to refer back to the blog on a regular basis – read people’s comments about other ways to get involved, and share your stories about giving back this holiday season.

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