Saturday, December 27, 2008

Counting my blessings in 2008 ....

Last weekend, a friend invited me and a few others to join her for a very special Christmas Toy giveaway project that she put together. Through donations she collected more than 800 toys and she wanted volunteers to help distribute the toys to children in one of the needier neighborhoods. Well, how could I resist. I was happy to help!

There were in total 12 cars, decorated with Holiday trimmings and filled with toys lined up in a caravan. As we drove up the sirens sounded and an announcement inviting the children to come out and receive a toy was made. Within seconds, droves of smiling children ran out towards us. Now, we weren’t giving out game boys or ipods or any of those expensive toys that some kids get but each child we saw was so wide-eyed and happy to receive their toy! Mothers came out with their babies and when I gave them little stuffed animals they had the biggest smiles! Its funny that my friend and I were constantly the last ones ready to leave because we wanted to find just the right toy for each child and then when we were ready to leave we'd see another kid running up and we just couldn't leave. This was such an awesome experience for me and I can't wait to volunteer again next year.

As I look back on 2008, I feel very lucky on so many levels. First, I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to afford the things that I have and to be able to travel to places around the world (which not many people are able to do). I am thankful for my health and for the health of my family and friends. I am especially thankful to have some really cool people in my life. My sister and her family, our extended aunts, uncles, cousins, my wonderful co-workers and my good friends.

This past year I have been really lucky to have met a group of very special travelers and bloggers whom I have come to call friends! AnnieNC, Maria, Girasoli, Sandra Leslie, Anne, Marta . . . ! I learn so much from them. For example, I was introduced to my first foreign movies, I learned about art appreciation, about the passion of watching a live Flamenco Dance and some of the fine delicacies of Andalusian Cuisine in preparation for my first trip to Spain. I learned about some interesting new places in Italy I want to visit and I also learned how to appreciate some familiar places like Venice and Florence. I learned about music, history, digital scrapbooking and photography. I learned how to keep the faith and have hope for change (Yay, Team Obama!) and finally I learned how to be a better person.

So as I stood there with droves of smiling children I am so humbled over what I think is the true spirit of the holidays . . . . giving thanks, sharing my good fortune with others and counting my blessings for my health and all the meaningful relationships in my life which are far more important than pocessions...well, maybe with the exeption of my iPod and music! Just kidding. :)

I want to wish everyone good health, happiness and lots of great traveling in 2009! I'll be toasting the New Year in with my sister and her family. I just better not do it while standing on the slopes of Big Bear lake! :)


  1. What a beautiful post, Kathy! You are so right about the true spirit of Christmas, I have been struggling this year with the whole season and how wonderful to read your words. (How sad that my last post was photos of what I received for presents...pitiful!)
    Cheers!! I'll have a toast to you and my other "regulars" on NY Eve!

  2. A toast to you also. What a wonderful way to spend Christmas and learn the true meaning. My hat is off to you and your friend for making some children very very happy.

    Here is to a wonderful 2009! Wishing you good health and a prosperous New Year. And of course many happy travels.

  3. Oh my - what a beautiful post!

    Happy New Year!

  4. What a gorgeous post! :)

    Happy New year. :)

  5. Kathy, what a wonderful activity, helping to bring some Christmas cheer to kids.

    Thank you for this timely reminder to count my blessings! I tend to focus far too often on what I think I don't have, rather than concentrating on all of the great things that I do have -- including great blogging friends, like you!

    I have learned so much, and have had so much fun in this past year, since I began blogging and more closely reading others' blogs. And I'm certain that this year can only be better!

    I hope you have a wonderful, healthy, happy 2009, one that will include more travels, many more blogs postings, and a new kitten!

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes. I could just picture the joy on the faces as the kids ran out to get the gifts when everyone drove up and the sirens went off. That is so cool that you got involved.

    I have also been so grateful for all my blogger buddy friends, including you :) I talk about all of you all the time. You are all a big part of my life now.

    I wish you joy and happiness in the new year. Have a wonderful time with your sister and family. Are you skiing? Have fun!!

  7. Kathy, I really enjoyed reading this post. The toy giveaway sounds like such a wonderful experience! I was thinking recently about how I want to do more hands-on things like that, since there are going to be so many more people in need during this economic downturn. Very inspiring to read about what you did!

    I hope that you are having a wonderful time at Big Bear Lake! Best Happy New Year's wishes to you and a happy 2009 to us all!

  8. Kathy, I really enjoyed reading this post. The toy giveaway sounds like such a wonderful experience! I was thinking recently about how I want to do more hands-on things like that, since there are going to be so many more people in need during this economic downturn. Very inspiring to read about what you did!

    I hope that you are having a wonderful time at Big Bear Lake! Best Happy New Year's wishes to you and a happy 2009 to us all!

  9. This is such a lovely post. Sharing the Holiday spirit with those in need is a wonderful gift. You painted a beautiful picture with your words and I'm sure you and your friends made Christmas a lot happier to many children and their parents.

    We are all indeed blessed to have our health, our family and friends near and dear and to be able to travel to our favorite places and to discover new ones, too. This year that's coming to an end brought many happy moments but they were some very sad. The loss of a dear friend and my beloved dog made me pause on the fragility of life and the unconditional love and companionship a dog has for its human. I'm grateful to be part of this wonderful blogging community that have enriched my life in many ways. I hope one day we can all meet — how about Venice in 2010?

    Here is wishing that the coming year is a glorious one with plans to return to Italy and the wild pitty-pat of Ronda or Lola or both!

    Thank you fro taking the time to leave such a sweet message on my blog before you left on vacation. Have a great time on Big Bear Lake and stay warm!

  10. Hallelujah, internet connection! Thanks so much for all the cool comments everyone. It’s so nice to see that we all feel the same way about how really wonderful our blogging community is. So far I’ve been having a great time. I won $20 betting on an NFL game and the penny slots! Whoo hoo! I’m so not a big gambler. I keep thinking I could be using this money for a trip or something! It’s nice to win though . . . :)

    Anne, tonight I’ll be toasting you all too! And BTW, I enjoyed my presents too, so definitely don’t feel sad about enjoying them. I’ll have to catch up with your blog to find out what little other goodies you got!

    Marta, my friend has a really big heart and it was really fun to help her out. In the end, I think all the volunteers were the ones that received the gift of joy from all the children and parents.

    Lelsie, thanks for your comments. I have to tell you that I surprised my sis with a Digital Photo Album made up with our family photos when we were growing up. It turned out pretty good after all my practicing and idea shopping on your blog. It was pretty emotional to remember the loss of our parents, but it was also very joyful to remember the good times through the photos.

    Sandra, I try to count my blessings every now and then to keep myself grounded. And this year has been a great year for the many blessings that I have been given. This wonderful community of blogging friends is among them for sure. I, too, have learned so much from everyone and I just love it!

    Girasoli, trust me I wanted to tear up too. I think I was okay with the little kids because they were so energetic and happy, but when the moms and dads came out with their babies wrapped in blankets, smiling and happy… that really got to me big time. The parents were so happy to get a little stuffed animal for their babies. It made me think that it wasn’t so much the toy but the gesture behind them that made them the most happy. It was awesome. Not sure if I’ll be skiing… I think my sis wants to go inner tubing. I would be happy doing either and will let her decide.

    Annie, you’re so right about families suffering from the economic downturn. I’m hoping that things will improve come January under our new leadership! Yay! It was definitely a great experience for me to be a part of. Like you I also want to do more hands on things to help and give back to the community that I live in.

    Thanks for your comments. I’m having a wonderful time so far and naturally had to get on line one last time in 2008 to wish everyone a very happy New Year!

    Maria, you are so right. I think the holidays do bring up memories of both joy and sadness especially of lost loved ones. My sister has a pet dog also and she always tells me that after a long hard day at work she always knows that she can come home and be greeted with such unconditional love for her little dog. It sort of makes all the negative things disappear. I think that’s why I want to get a little Kitten. Seeing all the photos and hearing about everyone’s stories has had a great influence in me making that Christmas wish. Hope that Pitty Pat for Ronda and Lola comes quick . . . Oh yes, Venice 2010 . . . I’ve got it on my mental calendar! Whoo hoo!

    Thanks again everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Years! Not much longer now before we are in 2009! Wow how times flies…

  11. Just wanted to wish you a very Happy, healthy and blessed New Year!!
    "Talk" to you again in 2009 :)

  12. Happy New Year Kathy! Glad to hear that you are having fun (and experiencing some good luck on the slots!).

    I've got a bottle of Prosecco and will drink a toast to all my blogging buddies tonight too!

    LuLu and Maria send best wishes to you and hope that your kitten dreams come true!

    Oh, I can't resist quoting the Cool One...tonight we're gonna party like it's 2009?! Not quite as catchy as the real version, ha ha!

    Happy New Year to you!

  13. Hi Kathy, just wanted to say that I hope you had a wonderful time on New Year's!! Look forward to your return to blogland!

  14. Anne, thank you so much for your comments. I'm sorry for not posting them until now. My New Year's was wonderful, thank you. I hope your New Year's eve with your good friend Valerie and her family was wonderful as well! I'm looking forward to catching up with all my favorite blogging buddies. I've missed everyone and I need to know what's been happening with all of you . . .

    Thank you Anne, I'm really looking forward to catching up with all of your new 2009 entries!

  15. Hi Annie, Happy New Year! Hope you had an awesome New Year with your family and friends! I've really missed reading everyone's blogs these past several days and I am looking forward to catching up with what's been happening with everyone. It's going to be a lot of fun reading all these new entries that I've missed! Oh, I hope Lulu and Maria also enjoyed the new years too. I think I'm going to give that guy a call, the one I met at the Hermosa festival to get started on one of my Christmas wish! :)

    And BTW, I loved your take on the Cool Ones all time classic song! I think 2009 sounds just as cool!

    Thanks for your comments Annie and now I'm going to catch up with all the wonderful blog entries I've missed.

  16. Hi Kathy, glad you're back - I've missed you! I hope that you had a great holiday and that your good luck in Vegas continued.

    And here we are, in a new year...woo hoo! It's off to a great start for me so far, even going back to work hasn't been so bad. And not too much longer until we have a new President!!!

    Take care and I'll talk to you again soon, Annie

  17. Hi Annie, I'm glad to be back on line too! I really missed you too! I've only read a few of everyone's posts for now but will definitely read everything that I've missed. Knowing this group I'm pretty sure that I've missed reading a lot of great things while I was spending time with my sis! I'm glad your new year is off to a great start! I'm going to enjoy reading everything that you and my buddies have been writing about.

    New Presidet is right! I'm so ready for the big change. I'm tempted to take the day off like Girasoli to watch the ceremonies. I'm going to have to sneak a peak while at work! How could I not!

    Glad that your transition back to work has been smooth. I'm hoping mine will be too. I go in tomorrow! :)


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.