5th Day: GivingSolo & PJ Party with Santa

   On the fifth day of Christmas we had a day of giving and receiving.

   We started the day with getting some of our family’s signature baked goods ready for givingSOLO’s big art auction event. (link: http://www.givingsolo.org).
  For the refreshments for the auction, I decided to make strawberry crumble bars, orange citrus cookies, and vanilla cupcakes decorated from the inside out as candy canes.  Tried and true hits with adults and kids alike.  Really, you can never go wrong with fresh fruit in baked goods!





   A very special friend of ours is on the committee for this amazing non-profit organization.  GivingSOLO is such an amazing charity that I simply cannot find the proper words to describe them, so I will instead post their words:


   I know that art therapy has helped my own son so greatly, though his speech is not even in the same realm as pediatric brain tumors.  It brought him so much joy- I can only imagine how much it would bring a child confined to a hospital or on heavy chemo/ radiation.
   When our friend asked if we would be willing to bake for this event there was no hesitation.  This is truly so very important. I am going to link to some YouTube videos for givingSOLO at the bottom of this page to give you a face (Blake) to go with the desperate situation that is pediatric brain tumors.
   After handing off the goodies, we heard jingle bells coming from upstairs- Marshall’s room specifically!  We ran up the stairs and lo and behold, there was a small package on Marshall’s bed with a note.
   The note was from one of Santa’s elves!  He said that Santa saw Marshall going above and beyond for other children and he was very proud.  Because Marshall currently hit a high note on the nice list, Mr. Clause would be honored if Mads attended his pj party tonight.  He even included special pajamas for Marshall that match his suit!
   Mads quickly jumped into his new Christmas pajamas and we headed off to Zona Rosa, where all the good little boys and girls of Kansas City were having a pajama party with Santa and Mrs. Claus!  
Marshall insited on wearing his red stripe skull cap from Nano V.  He must have wanted to be the younger, edgier Claus.


   North Kansas City Hospital- the same hospital Marshall was born at- sponsored this event.  There were free animal drawstring bags, cookies, ice cream, and chocolate milk.  The kids were all hopped up on sugar for Dino O’Dell, a KC favorite in the kids’ music circuit.  


   Marshall danced and sang his heart out to Dino’s music.  He loved hearing Mrs. Claus’ stories and the impromptu play using kids from the audience as elves. 


Captivated by the play


Singing his little heart out


He had so much fun!  What a treat to be so close to the Clauses too!




Mrs. Claus announced that she would be giving all the children the little golden book ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer ‘


Marsh kept looking back and smiling at Mrs Claus


So excited for his new book!


   When we got home from the PJ party, it was time to get to business on Marshall’s Christmas list to Santa this year, as tonight is the eve of St. Nicholas Day!  
   Marshall and I sat down together and he told me what he wanted to ask for from Santa as I wrote it down for him.  Some of the things- out of many- he asked for: a balloon, a BIGGER balloon, Papa’s phone- not just any phone it has to be his papa’s, a mushroom, a real baby penguin, voodoo (thanks to Princess and the Frog), and “pizza hockey”- no, I don’t know what that is either.
   Per my family’s longtime tradition, on the night before St. Nicholas day, children write their list for Santa and leave the note next to their shoe.  If the child is good they are left a treat and the list is gone.  When I was a child, Santa typically left chocolate oranges.  Now, Santa leaves a new book for Marshall if he is good.  I know St. Nicholas leaves different treats for different families, though.
   Some people have asked me what does a child leave out with cookies on Christmas Eve if you give him the list on St. Nick’s day?  We leave a list of reasons why we think we should be on the nice list.  Such as kind gestures, going above and beyond for a friend or family member, doing an act of charity, etc.  To us, that makes a bit more sense- we like to give Santa fair warning for what Marshall wants delivered on Christmas Eve.
   Marshall carefully picked which shoes he wanted to leave out for St. Nicholas, alongside his letter.  He picked out his squad car slip-ons.
He even drew a sideways Santa portrait for St. Nick


   We finished the evening with talking about St. Nicholas’ beginnings and history (link: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/).  We told the stories of the dowries for the three daughters; which also explains why we use shoes and stockings during this holiday season.  We also delved into the story of pirates, Marshall loves anything pirate related, and St. Nicholas saving the captured young boy.  That story explains why he is seen as the watcher and carer of children.
   One of the most important messages that St. Nicholas exemplified was “to assist the needy, sick, and the suffering”.  We really hope that today we did our small part with that.  No matter how little you have- someone has less.  No matter what obstacles you face, someone has bigger obstacles.  If you don’t have the money to spare, give your time, give your talents.  Make your mark on the world.  St. Nicholas did and he is still loved centuries later; what better way to leave your mark on the world?  What better legacy?
   The fifth day was truly a touching day in so many ways.  We tried to do our part for a very important charity.  Marshall learned that giving to others gives such a great feeling and was rewarded by the big man in red himself.  Brad & I shared stories of history that pertain to our religious beliefs and Mads learned where some of these Christmas traditions originated.  Now Marshall is in bed, no doubt dreaming of what he may find by his shoe in the morning.  It is our hope that he also dreams of his future; of how he can help further touch the lives of others.  It is our dream that we are using these days wisely and raising a nurturing boy with a love of giving.  Goodnight all, we hope St. Nicholas finds you on the good list and that you dream of new ways to help your fellow man.  Sweet, sweet dreams to all.
-GivingSOLO’s YouTube channel. Stories of little fighters, facing challenges so beyond their years (grab the tissues): https://m.youtube.com/user/givingsolo
-41 Action News Story on givingSOLO: 
If you feel as touched by this cause as we have, please consider donating here (link: GivingSolo.org) and clicking the donate button.  All donations are tax deductible and they also collect children’s artwork year round for their benefit auctions.  Here are their Facebook and Twitter pages for more direct links to the organization.  
Want to get creative in having older kids raise money for givingSOLO?
Suggest to them:
– Shovel neighborhood driveways or sidewalks for a minimal fee
-have a bake sale
-put on a holiday play and charge (family, friends, neighbors) a small entry fee
-take on additional chores for allowance specifically for givingSOLO 
-sell homemade artwork to family & friends
-give neighbors or family a heads up that for a small fee they can have Christmas carolers (the children with friends or your family as a whole) show up at their door
-babysit or be a “mother’s helper” (watching children while parent is still in the home) with the fee going to charity
Get creative- after all, that’s what givingSOLO is all about!  Any amount is much appreciated; your children get to help their fellow peers who suffer from pediatric brain cancer.  You get the added benefit of raising children who think of others and take notice of those suffering.  
{If your child does do one of the above listed suggestions for givingSOLO, please email us pictures to dingmanholidays@gmail.com.  We would love to see or hear all about it!}  
Please consider givingSOLO this holiday season.  Share this worthy cause with others.  Spread the joy of giving.

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