Starting in mid-November, our calendars and hearts are chockablock full: Thanksgiving, three family birthdays, gingerbread houses, baking, gift choosing and wrapping and giving, advent calendars, endless treats, homemade gifts, projects, school plays, parties, family visits--and that's on top of our normal, weekly activity.
Among all the holiday activities, the Book Angels Program is my favorite.
When we lived in Illinois, we trekked to Anderson's Bookshop every December. Their Book Angel Program invited patrons to buy books for local children in need, and we loved choosing books that other children might love.
When we moved to Seattle, our local bookshop, Secret Garden Books' holiday giving program was defunct. Christy McDanold, the shop owner, and her staff no longer had sufficient time to run the program.
But I did. Last year, we reinstated the program and provided books for 84 children in our community.
This year, three local schools provided children's names and book preferences. (As you might imagine, I keep a spreadsheet!) My girls chose their angels first, and spent a while poring over bookshelves, finding the perfect titles. My parents and sister were in town when I hung the angels, so this was a family affair.
We wrapped our books to display in store, and hung 117 paper angels throughout the shop.
We invited patrons to choose books, and then the magic happened.
People in our neighborhood opened their hearts and wallets to provide books for children in need. Many customers bought multiple books for their chosen children. All told, people gave more than twelve dozen books to local children.
We had piles and piles of books! My dear friend, Kristina Cerise, accepted pizza and beer as payment for helping wrap all those gifts. (Kristina blogs--often hilariously--about motherhood here.)
Nine days before Christmas, I delivered those precious parcels to an elementary school, a middle school, and a K-8.
I wore a Santa hat and blasted Christmas music as I drove around NW Seattle (but was totally calm and hatless inside schools, I swear.) My heart was full to bursting; delivery day was my favorite day of the year.
My family's emphasis on charitable giving and literacy dovetail perfectly in this program. I love helping people in my community, and I love bringing people to books. I hope children enjoy the books they receive. I hope their holidays are a little brighter.
And I hope to do it all again in eleven months.
*Photo credit: Me. It's all me. You can tell, because they're not very artful! I wish I had a photographer's eye.
Okay, procrastinators, you have four days until Christmas. Usually, my spouse shops for Christmas presents the day before we exchange gifts, so I know all about your time crunch. Advanced procrastinators, I'm here to help you with your shopping. (This will mostly help you with your holiday gift buying for people like ME.)
I've included items for your sweetie's brain (books and games), body, heart, soul, and community. Let's go!
The best gifts aren't "things" at all. Feed your recipient's heart and soul with an experience instead.
If you can go all-out, with an unlimited budget, send yourself (and your sweetie, of course,) to Whistler, B.C. for a week. The scenery is breathtaking, the skiing spectacular, and pizza (at Fat Tony's!) is fabulous. Whistler also boasts a fabulous little bookstore, Armchair Books, that has everything you could possibly need for cozy nights in.
If I'm being honest, I have everything I need, and your sweetie might, too. Consider instead making a donation in his or her name to help people aren't as lucky as we are. People in our country and aroudn the world are in constant need of food, water, and shelter. If you don't enjoy research and just want to give, try Heifer International, which is working to eradicate poverty and hunger through sustainable, values-based holistic community development. Or donate to my local food bank in Seattle.
Last week, I prepared a brief reading for Ballard's It's About Time writers' series. I usually choose fiction for readings, but I wrote a short nonfiction piece for this event. (My on-the-spot comments are in parentheses.)
I am Michele Bacon. My people--who are scattered across the globe--include computer scientists, attorneys, librarians, nonprofit executives, a playwright, an author, a doctor, a college student, expats, and a mother-of-three who I befriended at the beach when we were six.
I relocated to Seattle 19 months ago with my husband and three children. Eighteen months before that, we moved from the Midwest to Christchurch, New Zealand knowing literally no one and—bonus—my youngest was three weeks old. Prior to that, we lived in Wheaton, Illinois, one of the most conservative, and religious cities in the country. (I am neither conservative nor religious.) Prior to that, I lived in four cities in Ohio, briefly in Provo, Utah, and for years in Chicago.
As culture bifurcates and our interests diverge into niche markets, it becomes more difficult to find people who fit. For the better part of two decades, I have engaged in an endless loop of befriending amazing women in an effort to find a best friend in my back yard. (It’s worse than dating.) I have made many friends in Seattle, and am presently looking for "the one."
Apply at michelebacon.com. I will evaluate candidates on a rolling basis. Cover letters that include the word “irregardless” or promise to “give 110 percent” to our friendship will be shredded and recycled. Candidates must live in Seattle. I will give special consideration to qualified applicants living within a 20-minute walk of my house.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: