As we move into the New Year and our commitments to our New Year’s resolutions fade, I intend to make 2018 the best year ever.  The lessons we learned during Hurricane Irma and during my recovery from rotator cuff surgery have caused us to refocus and really engage with the people around us.  That’s my only resolution.  Engage.

We were thrown for a loop in September when my recovery required more time off than we expected.  The disability insurance company disagreed with my doctor on work restrictions, so I’ve been without a paycheck for a significant amount of time.  While we weren’t able to give extravagant gifts this year, one of our grandsons said that my presence was his best present ever. Quite honestly, I have enjoyed being able to totally engage with family, without the demands of work being constantly on my mind.

We were all set a quiet for Christmas until we received a phone call from a judge’s office on December 23.  The judge wanted to know where someone could go for Christmas dinner.  We weren’t sure, so we all said, “we will feed them!”  This was just the first step in what would turn out to be a very special holiday experience.  The judge gave us the information and we set out to help this family.

The man had lost his job and his truck.  He told us he just wanted to give his wife a Christmas tree and that it didn’t matter whether there were any decorations; a tree would be fine.  After some prodding, we found out a little more about the family and their needs, and we went about arranging for some nice surprises that would brighten their holiday.  Several friends contributed so that everyone in their family received gifts and had a delicious Christmas dinner.

Just when I thought we could relax, my daughter asked us to help hang curtains at Camp Twin Lakes, a camp for children with special needs.  The camp was replacing the window blinds in all of the cabins with fabric curtains.  Corded window blinds are the cause of about 25 preventable childhood deaths per year, and the death of Elsie Mahe has brought this danger to the forefront.  Elise’s father is the former NFL running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, Reno Mahe.  My daughter arranged for the fabric and the labor to sew 450 curtains in the cabins at this camp.  How she did this is beyond me, but there are some very generous people out there who were willing to help.

On New Year’s Eve, the six of us went to Rutledge, Georgia, to hang the 144 curtains that were ready.  It was a cold, wintry day, and there was no cell service at the camp.  The cabins had heat, but no television and no wireless coverage.  We were forced to connect with each other.  Everyone had a task and we focused on what we were supposed to be doing. Even our four-year-old granddaughter had a job and the time flew by.   As we talked and walked through the woods, without the distractions of electronics, I couldn’t help but reflect on the special gift of this day.  That we were all working together on a huge project was a great gift, perhaps the best gift of the season.

As we begin 2018, I invite you to look for opportunities to step outside and help someone else.  Whether you choose to volunteer somewhere or donate to a food pantry, serving others in a volunteer setting can help you gain confidence and make a difference, or even learn new skills.  It is even good for your health.



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