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my grown up christmas list

posted on December 1, 2014 by nicole 7 Comments

I have realized over the years that my favorite Christmas songs are the sad ones. I hadn’t really thought about it until recently.

My favorite is “My Grown Up Christmas List” (original by Natalie Cole, 1999), but Kelly Clarkson does a great rendition too.

When I was a kid, our family was what you would have considered “very poor.” I lived in a housing project in Westfield, MA until I was 14, with my (amazing) mom and six brothers and sisters. We didn’t have a car, or new school clothes, or even a washer and dryer.

The truth is, we would have had even less without the generosity of strangers and organizations that helped families like ours.  One cold winter, a relative by marriage paid to have our oil tank filled so we could have heat.  Often, my mom would turn on the oven and open the door to heat our small apartment.  It worked in a pinch-albeit unsafe!  Another time, on Christmas Eve, a group of people showed up at our with two big trash bags filled with toys.  I don’t remember if they were new or used.  It didn’t matter  – I got a half clothed 18″ walking doll that I treasured. My mom recently told me a story of a neighborhood mom (who was in our same economic boat) who was incredibly generous to our family.  A man had given this woman two $100 bills, one for her to keep and one to give to someone in need. She gave the other $100 to my mom.  It was Christmas time and it meant the world to her. She could have kept it for herself and nobody would have ever known.

I’ve come to realize the sad Christmas songs that I seem to blast in the car, or at home when I am doing laundry, remind me of those days –  and I feel both sad and hopeful at the same time.  Life is different for me, my mom and my siblings and we no longer depend of the generosity of strangers and charitable organizations. I believe that it was partially their assistance that the cycle of poverty was broken for our family.  I am forever grateful.

I am hopeful that I can teach my own two kids (who have never known these issues personally) to give whatever they can to help those in need.

It matters.

ESPECIALLY this time of year when those who “have” and those who “don’t have” are highlighted in such a glaring way.  I know “toys” are may not be the priority when hunger and shelter are at risk, but those toys that were delivered to my house on Christmas Eve certainly made all the difference to me.

My grown up Christmas list includes stretching myself to REALLY help those in need (I may or may not have new workout clothes on my list too…!)

Should YOU feel so inclined, this is a wonderful organization that is in great need this time of year:

Toys For Tots

You can even look in your back yard too, is there someone you KNOW that could use a little help this holiday season?


Wishing you a magical and inspirational Christmas!!



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7 Responses to “my grown up christmas list”

  1. Jennifer Silva December 1, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    Beautiful Nik! Xoxo

  2. Tammy Jarry December 2, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    I remember it well! even though we didn’t have much, mom made sure we had a loving happy
    Home. Mom even took a job as a chamber maid one day a week so she could get some extra things for Xmas! Toys for tots are such a blessing ! Ps so are you!

  3. Mary ( hardiman) Davern December 2, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    Those younger days are the foundation for the strong independent and generous people we are today. Amazing moms were a gift back then and they made us amazing daughters and Moms. How I treasure the memories of friends, laughter and generosity from Westfield. Thank you for reminding me. Merry Christmas!

  4. donna December 2, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    Nicole, I can’t stop crying! That was truly the most inspirational thing I have read in a long long time. I am so amazed by your kindness, your depth, and your profound talent of story telling. I am in awe !! Thank you for sharing such a personal and incredible journey. Our family is so fortunate that you are a part of it. Your mom did a great job of raising such an incredible woman, friend, mom, wife, cousin, business person, and all around inspirational person. Thank you.

  5. Jaci December 3, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    Nicole, this is a beautiful post! You’re a gifted storyteller, I went back and read it a second time because I was so moved. So inspiring! XO

  6. Scott Budnick December 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Beautifully written Nicole, your story is inspiring…you are inspiring. My life is richer because of my friendship with you and Keith, and your generosity and spirit has touched my life and work. Thank you for everything that you have done for myself and others!


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