I had many great moments in 2016, but I’m humbled to have helped one listener bring Christmas Tree Santas to Austin, Texas.
Spreading Christmas Cheer in Austin
I had some major moments of pride in 2016: I found a good job and a great therapist, and for the first time, I learned to feel truly, sustainably confident in my own skin. On top of these accomplishments, I was surprised by another point of fondness in October. It came from a Facebook post by Seth Paskin, a podcaster and listener of The Plural of You from Austin, Texas. See an excerpt from Seth below.
Last year I heard an episode of the podcast The Plural of You about an organization called Christmas Tree Santas. Even though I’m Jewish, I appreciate the (Ur-pagan) symbolism of the tree. I was inspired by their mission to join up with my Catholic buddy Rebecca Hurst Kemp to provide Christmas trees, stands, ornaments and lights this holiday season to Austin families who are not able to purchase their own. We are partnering with Austin Children’s Shelter to supply trees to 40 local families.
Seth had heard about Christmas Tree Santas on POY 19, in which I interviewed Alex Gramling, the founder of the group. He, Rebecca, and the Austin Children’s Shelter organized the first-annual Santas giveaway in Austin, and it was a huge success. Seth later posted about the event on Facebook:
In spite of the chilling rain, we held the event this past weekend on Saturday at the shelter. Spirits were high even though the temperatures were low and the weather didn’t deter volunteers or the families.
I want to share with you that one single mother took the bus (3 hours round trip) from the Safeplace campus on East Riverside to the ACS campus at Mueller with her daughter just to get a tree.
She showed up with just a small rolling cart that she told us was too expensive at $30 to break (it already had). We were able to somehow find a way to pack in the stand, ornaments and her other bags as well as a tree in her cart and provide some respite, warmth and food while she waited for the return bus. Because of you, she will be able to provide some holiday warmth and joy for her daughter in their temporary, protected accommodations at Safeplace.
Don’t doubt the difference you have made in the lives of so many families here this year. Thank you again for your support.
I can’t describe how gratifying it is to know I helped to connect Seth, Rebecca, and the Austin Children’s Shelter to the Santas. I want to thank them all, as well as Alex Gramling, for taking action to help others. Alex contacted me later, and he correctly observed that my goal with The Plural of You was “to plant these seeds and let the goodness germinate.” I hope to plant more seeds like this going forward and to do whatever I can to help you plant your own.
As you reflect on 2016, make a point to leave out any elections or celebrity deaths. As far as what happened around us and to us—where we live, among family and friends, and in our local communities—2016 may not have been as bad as social media has suggested. I bet there were moments where you stepped up to help someone or someone stepped up to help you, too.
Don’t forget: you and people in general have that potential for change in common, but it’s up to you to act on it.
(Cover image source: Christmas Tree Santas)