We know those pages will eventually fill in with laughter, excitement, new beginnings, closures, friendships yet to be found, friendships further forged in the fires of trust, hardships, and comfort.
There will be pages with new babies, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries. There will also be pages colored with the heartache of illness, struggles, even death.
It is all part and parcel of the deal we make with this world when we enter and take our first breaths. No guarantees. No promises of perfection or unending happiness. No protection from heartbreak, heartache. Just the knowledge that for every up there will be an inevitable down. For every laugh we share, a tear will eventually fall. For every exhilaration of our spirits, there will be an unexpected blow we must stand.
As I look back at 2015 - with 49, almost 50 years, of living under my belt - I am most happy to see that there is still learning to be done. 2015 has broadened my horizons, challenged my thinking, tested my heart, and most of all - shown me that, as a human being, a parent, a mother, a wife, and a friend - I know who I am, and that what I believe is unshakable. 2015 may have revealed changes yet to come, transformations I never imagined, and challenges I did not know I would call mine - but 2015 also made me braver, bolder, stronger, and clearer.
I hope you, too, may look back on your 2015 and say some of these same things.
In looking back, I also marvel at this blogmunity, as I do each year at this time. Born of one woman's frustration at writing with the encumbrance of editors, word counts, subject matter - DGMS somehow grew a heart, a soul, a family. All of you reading this are a part of that family. I have been honored to be able to meet many of you. Having you walk out of the ether and into an embrace is never not emotional. There are many, many more of you who still exist as lines of type in my inbox, in the comments, on my FB wall. But behind the black and white letters, I know you. We share ups, downs, confidences, struggles, and hope.
Yes, most of all, HOPE. You all give me hope against a world in which the news is so very tainted with heartache, divisiveness, angst, sadness. Hope that the world still contains far more good people than bad. Hope that even in struggles, we are willing and able to reach out.
Which brings me to this past season of elfing. Your generosity of both spirit and donations managed to bring that hope into the lives of 15 families. Your donations hit $2325 (we still have just under $270 left). With that money we provided grocery store gift cards, Walmart gift cards, boots, coats, clothing, toys, even a small Christmas tree and decorations. Food was, as it has increasingly been the past few years, the most wished for assistance. I always find that the most heartbreaking. We may not all know what it is like to not be able to afford food, but we have all felt hunger. Most of us are blessed to have it be the type where we worked through our lunch hour or are trying a new diet - all the while knowing food is within easy reach.
But hunger in which a parent routinely eats the crust left over from a child's peanut butter sandwich, or chooses pangs of their own over seeing their children go to bed hungry? I don't know that kind. And it is not because I am better than someone else. You aren't either. It is because we have been lucky. Lucky to keep a job. Lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Lucky to have a bank account capable of sustaining unforeseen circumstances.
The people we help have done nothing wrong. I vet them as much as I possibly can before using your donations. They are not drug addicts. They are not welfare cheats. They are not criminals. They are PEOPLE. Caught in a bad economy. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Caught in nightmares not of their own making.
One of our own DGMSers posted some of her pictures of her daughter's happy Christmas morning in our FB group - I hope you have had a chance to see them. If we receive more pictures, and I am given permission, I will post them. I promise. Many people are loathe to "put my kids out there" (quoting), however, and I understand that. People can be cruel, people can be heinous. And while I hate that it is this way - poverty is embarrassing - and there are tweens, teens, etc, that we help. This is a public blog - I cannot control who comes, sees, right clicks, etc. Just please know that their gratitude is real, heartfelt, and profound.
2016 is a few shorts hours away. Thank you all for adding immeasurably to my life, to changing it in so many ways, to embracing my family and the stories I tell of them, and to making not only my life, but the lives of so many others, BETTER.
Now, let's all walk into 2016 together.