As we approached Christmas this year, I found myself desperate to do something BIG in memory of Patrick. For his first two Christmases we made donations to one of our favorite charities, First Book. First Book provides books to children who otherwise wouldn’t own their own books, and Lloyd and I both believe strongly in that mission.
This year we wanted to do something different, though–something that felt more active, for which Stitch could be a part. My friend, Anne Mathay, a fellow loss mama and contributor at Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS), had recently started her own business as an Usborne Books & More consultant. Over the summer I had promised her that I would host a party before the holidays. As our party date approached, I had an idea: what if we used the party to collect books to donate to a local organization?
Party guests could buy books for the kiddos in their lives, to donate, or both. Plus, all of those purchases would count toward us earning free books that we would then donate as well.
I was excited! Anne was excited! I made a soft goal that I kept to myself: I wanted to donate $100-worth of books. I researched organizations that would accept a donation of new books, and we ultimately decided to donate to the Child Life department at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) for Children. Both of our children had been born at MGH, and it seemed the perfect fit. I contacted the department to find out their needs, and we set up the party.
As orders came in, I realized we were going to be able to donate far more than I had originally hoped. When we closed the party, we’d earned over $200 in free books, plus another $150 at half price. Plus, I kept getting boxes of books that guests had ordered to donate. When it was all said and done, we had $500!!! worth of books to donate. We were overwhelmed in the best possible way.
The last box of books arrived December 17th, and I set an appointment with Eva to deliver the books on December 20th. Lloyd and I went through the books one by one to check them all out. We had already owned a few Usborne Books & More books, but not many. We absolutely fell in love with each one of them. We had purchased a few to keep for Stitch as Christmas presents, and I have to admit we wanted to keep so many more! The quality of the books made us even more excited about the donation we were making.
After going through all of the books, I placed them under the tree to try to get a picture of them all–49 in total. The photo really doesn’t do them justice, but I love having this photo of all of Patrick’s gifts under the tree!
I created little tags to put in each of the books to let the families know where the books came from, using the stack of books from the invitation graphic. Stitch “helped” me put the tags on strings and into the cover of each book. I loaded them into bags, and we headed in to Boston to meet Lloyd to make the delivery.
I was surprised how much making the delivery affected me. In the business of the holiday season, getting everything ready almost felt like tasks to check off the to do list. But, I think that was a coping strategy. Dropping the books off was quite emotional. Ava so graciously accepted the donation and took some photos of us dropping them off.
Lloyd, Stitch, and I ate lunch together before Lloyd headed back to work. I know Stitch doesn’t understand what she was a part of that afternoon, but she will in the coming years. We’ll have pictures to show her of her first Christmas project in memory of her big brother. I hope she becomes more involved in the coming years and looks forward to working with us on the projects.
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to Patrick’s Christmas Books. It really meant so much to us and was a special project to share with Stitch for her first Christmas. As loss parents, Lloyd and I struggle to find just the right balance of keeping our son’s memory alive and living in the moment with Stitch. Both hold such importance in our hearts. Having this project be such an overwhelming success helped us really be able to enjoy this Christmas.
We also absolutely fell in love with the books available from Usborne Books & More–so much so that I’ve decided to become an Usborne Books & More consultant myself. I’d like to specialize in projects like Patrick’s Christmas Books and Rainbow Baby Showers–helping families celebrate all of their babies. Please join my Facebook VIP group and follow my Facebook page to learn more!