Giving Children The Gift of The Christmas Season

Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I did a story on a sub Santa Program in my home town. Sub Santa provides gifts for those children that otherwise would not have a Christmas this year because of their family circumstances. I think Leo Buscaglia says it best when it comes to what we can do to help someone else.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia

This is brief excerpt of the story that will appear in The Courier Sentinel this week.

Dawn Navarra has been working with the Sub Santa program sponsored by the Wells, Minnesota Lake and Kiester Lions Clubs for 12 years. It is the smiles on the faces of the children, knowing that they are going to get a gift that puts a smile on Dawn’s face. “When I see that smile on the face of a child it goes way into my heart.”

Sub Santa started many years before that at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, organized by Audrey Schroeder. The Lions became involved with the program about eighteen years ago.

Sub Santa provides gifts for children who might not otherwise have a gift under the tree on Christmas. Trees with tags are set up in area banks in Kiester, MN Lake and at three banks in Wells.

This might be a story about three small communities in Minnesota but the Caring and Sharing and Sub Santa programs are helping all across the nation sponsored by different groups and different individuals. Please take the time to find one and put a smile on a child’s face this Christmas.

There is a real need in our communities,” Navarra shared, “Until you
work with it, you don’t really know.

We don’t know unless we experience it ourselves. The entire article can be read in the Courier Sentinel. Like their Facebook page for updates on their new website coming soon.

Remember what you do to help someone else, may change their lives forever.

Interesting Face and Interesting Places

rp sign Rustic PInes Tree Farm siloMy journey this week has taken me to the interviewing platform with one of the papers that I write for, The Courier Sentinel. Each week after my interviews and after they appear in the paper,with the parties permission, I will give some highlights on this blog. Isn’t that what this n that is all about?

This week I had so much fun. I visited the Rustic Pines Tree Farm. The Tree Farm is located  south of of Kiester, Minnesota and is owned  by Keith and Carol Rinehart and their sons.

Immediately upon getting out of my car I saw the smiles  on the faces of a family that had found their perfect Christmas Tree. I watched as the tree was shaked (yes, they shake, rattle and roll the tree) to get the old needles out of the tree. It is then baled so it is easier to haul and get into a house. Walking around the property I remembered the  times I spent in the fall and winter walking around my Grandmother’s Farm. I loved the knots in the trees, the cool Silo, which has a story of it’s own that I hope to tell early in the next year, and the beauty and peacefulness of walking through the different types of Evergreen Trees.

Walking into the gift shop my greeting was a cup of warm cider and a warm stove surrounded by barrel chairs for me to sit and  enjoy the smell of the evergreen wreaths as they were being made. Complementing that were the hand-made crafts made by different crafters from the area that were available for sale. The friendliness of the owners and their staff and the atmosphere they provided kept me smiling for a long time.

It calmed my soul to walk among the trees and sit by the fire and feel the season coming to life.

If you want to know more, check out this weeks Courier Sentinel. The paper is expanding online after the first of the year. The link for the Facebook Page for the paper is listed above. I will list the links for the Tree Farm:,

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, Much Pleasure Do You Bring Me. (From the song, Oh Christmas Tree)

Help Me Write My Thanksgiving Column for Something About Nothing

Thankful by Nakeva

Thankful by Nakeva (Photo credit: Nakeva)

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. I miss summer. Yes, those lazy, hazy days of summer are gone and, instead, we are rolling out the not lazy, hazy, crazy days of holidays.

We’ll sing of mistletoe and cheer. We will be making our list and checking it twice and, really, it doesn’t matter if the kids are naughty or nice, Grandma will buy them something anyway.

The real holiday frenzy started in some stores mid-summer, especially craft stores so all the crafters could buy their materials and craft like crazy to be done for Christmas. The other stores got into the act right around Labor Day or sooner. I think they were hoping to tempt me into buying more decorations before I looked at what I already had stored in the basement.

Many Black Friday sales have begun before Black Friday and Black Friday, on occasion, seems to be every day. We are tricked into believing that the sale will only happen once. For some unexplainable reason we believe the hype so we wait in long lines to get that special item that is important, such as the big-screen television.

Here in Minnesota it is better if we get snow so everyone feels it really is Christmas. Do you suppose the retailers in Minnesota put in a request for early snow so we will get the Christmas fever early? We are excited about Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving?

On Facebook, I have noticed many of my friends are listing something they are thankful for every day. They have the gratitude attitude.

Churches haven’t forgotten about Thanksgiving. They are getting ready for Thanksgiving services although in these modern times, many services are in the evening before Thanksgiving Day because people have things to do on Thanksgiving and are too busy to go to services.

Food shelves haven’t forgotten about Thanksgiving. They know there are many hungry people out there who won’t have a Thanksgiving meal without the food shelves.

Local organizations haven’t forgotten about Thanksgiving. Many are gearing up to provide a free Thanksgiving meal so those that are alone, homeless or without the means for a meal will have a place to go.

Stores are gearing up to be open early for Thanksgiving Deals. They haven’t forgotten Thanksgiving and are trying to make it one of the biggest shopping experiences of the season. We can’t blame them. If we as consumers didn’t give up our family Thanksgiving to shop they wouldn’t open. It seems more important for us to shop rather than spend family time and rest and relax the entire Thanksgiving Day. I have a feeling that the small mom-and-pop shops will respect the Thanksgiving family tradition and wait until Friday to reopen.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade planners haven’t forgot about Thanksgiving. Last I heard the parades were still on. Football seems to be a Thanksgiving tradition. The entire family can gather around the television to watch their games before they fall asleep on the couch from eating all that turkey that contains tryptophan.

The holidays are anything but lazy. They are crazy. They are as crazy as we make them. What we do with Thanksgiving and Christmas determines where our priorities lie. It is different for each person and each family.

My family still celebrates Thanksgiving together. We have a meal. We play games. We watch movies, and we eat. We are blessed enough to have food to put on the table and to be able to spend time together. I feel especially blessed this year. I might have two working bathrooms. I don’t have to pull in an outhouse for the grandchildren.

This is not Thanksgiving week. Look around you each day and see the snippets of Thanksgiving in the preparation of the people you meet. Take the time to contemplate what you are grateful for and what you can do to honor the holiday.

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving? Has it been more about Christmas? Or has it been about being thankful for the blessings you have received this year.

I would appreciate it if you would email me this week at and let me know if you feel the blessings of the past year. I would like my column next week to be full of statements about thankfulness and blessings for Thanksgiving from many people. I would like you to write the column with those blessings. If you want me to use your name, I will. If you don’t I won’t. I hope to hear from you.

Perhaps something you share will reach out and touch another person and remind them of what they have to be thankful for.

“Even though we’re a week and a half away from Thanksgiving, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” — Richard Roeper