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As many of you know, I care for my father who's inching closer day by day to 100 years of age. He's a man who has always extended himself to others, offering assistance for free and taking pleasure in the skills he developed to be able to do that.

Aging has limited that, and I've been struggling to find ways that need to help can still be accommodated, in a different fashion. This morning was a eureka moment (undoubtedly due to the chocolate covered cherries I munched on last night!).

But I'm interested in feedback, as well as how to address specific situations.

1. We both get free holiday cards from charities soliciting money. Some are beautiful; others go immediately to the recycle pile. Suffice it to say that with our accumulated stocks over the years, we have enough excess cards to give to 100 or 200 people, more or less.

2. I plan to print out a short holiday greeting on some of the lovely stationery I've bought over the years, when people still did write letters. Or the greetings might be on small holiday note paper. The message will be something short and simple, but not the cheery one message fits all of having happy holiday. The target audience is not one that will be celebrating as those w/o medical needs can.

3. First choices for those in need are the VA outpatient clinic and in-patient hospital nearby, the VA home in Grand Rapids, the infusion center where my sister got chemo and radiation, and oncology units of children's hospitals.

We'll also send cards with different greetings to Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers and the local EMT staff.

4. I wanted to make up special holiday baskets with silk flowers and sprays, but some years ago I discovered that baskets from China came with dormant little insect infestations that apparently liked the atmosphere of my home. So I'll probably just buy some inexpensive melamine or plastic bowls, put the cards in, and ask the facilities to place them where visitors can take them. I'm open to suggestions on this, as well as what besides fruit to offer them. I'd like our gifts to be unique, and nonperishable. There's always chocolate!

5. My dilemma is what would be appropriate to say to the groups in 3. above. What are kind, thoughtful, warm wishes to extend to veterans in homes, or in hospitals? What can I say to parents of children with cancer, and to those still getting chemo or radiation? Everything I would want to wish is just that..a wish. Can anyone help me with this?

I'm really excited about this but don't want to include any notes in cards that might upset someone already suffering physically or emotionally.

And thanks to anyone who reads and/or posts.

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I know that mom has gotten an "anonymous card and small gift" from and organization making sure all of the Meals on Wheels recipients get something. She loves what ever she gets from them as it is from someone who cared about her without knowing her. Last year she got a few tea bags and a mug and a throw blanket...She enjoyed the tea and mug but the throw blanket is her favorite...Not sure she remembers now where it came from, but she treasures the warmth it brings.

So please consider doing something. Short and sweet is fine. Sometimes you just need a smile or positive comment to get you through the day!

And don't forget the caregivers too!
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For the Veterans............"Thank you for your service to our country. I hope you have a blessed Christmas."
For those with cancer.............."Hoping you have a blessed Christmas and peace in the new year."
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Ah, heck, that's for the dogs! They need a treat too. On the other, they may end up zigging and zagging and not make it to your area at all.
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If you get that dog sled going, throw in a bottle of brandy for me!
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Windy, just bought some great chocolates yesterday, specifically for the holidays: Hershey's candy cane kisses and mint chocolate kisses. Now, all I need to do is find a good carrier pigeon that can withstand the 6 - 11" of snow now predicted for our area (and doesn't like chocolate or all you'd end up with are the wrappers) that can make the trip from SE Michigan to the wilds of the Michigan western coast.

Thanks for the advice. I never thought about contacting coordinators or social workers, but that's a great idea. The VA has such a varied staff that I'm guessing someone would know whether cards are a good idea or not.

Come to think of it, now might be a good time to take those extra warm shirts that aren't being used, give them a good washing and donate them to the VA.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and just keep thinking about that chocolate and the poor little pigeon struggling to get to your area while being tempted by the fragrant aroma of chocolate and mints).

On the other hand, if anyone knows of a husky or team interested in a nice trip....
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Garden, just thinking out loud here....or digitally I guess......

Like you ideas. I'm not a x mas guy but I like giving to others and this is a good time to do it. I'm not suite how much people would appreciate getting cards from someone they've never heard of. I guess it couldn't hurt. For the vets you may want to contact a social worker or volunteer coordinator at the va facilities. They may be able to suggest what these folks really need and would appreciate. When I was a UAW official we had a great veterans committee in the local union who would visit the va hospital and Taylor the contributions to fit the needs. I remember warm socks, various toiletries, and of course chocolate and goodies were always welcome.

I also like the idea of sending cards and thanks to the EMT's , meals on wheels and others who have helped you and Dad. There are so many folks who do so much for us that never get thanks or recognition. People really appeciate a pat on the back. And some chocolate. Come to think of it, I'm a little low on chocolate at the moment..............
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