Happy New Year 2018 from Shamama!

Photo by Annie Spratt

Dear Holiday Child,

Another year done, another year to come! Can you feel the potential in the air? I can.

This year, we had so much love from the world – did you see it? NBC News, the Chicago Tribune, and Sarah Talk. What does this mean? It means that YOU are important to so many more people! They love reading YOUR comments as much as the mom’s letters. That’s how important you are to us! If you have posted a comment, sharing your life back with us, we are so grateful. We write for you, and to hear from you brings us great joy.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a bit sad that we are ending today (only until next Thanksgiving!), but that is what makes the holidays special, don’t you think? At least that is how I see it.

In the mean time, you’re going to need to get out there and be your fantastic self all this next year so that we can hear about it next year! If you will, I will! Deal?

By the way, this year we got a LOT of comments from some of you who have joined us year after year. You told us how things have shifted for the better for you in your life. We are WILDLY excited to hear that, and as proud as any proud mom could be that you took those steps toward your best possible future. We moms know we can’t live your life for you, but we can and will be your HUGE cheering section along the way.

So, I guess that’s it for now. Come back to these letters any time this year that you need a little boost. And know that each one of us moms are thinking of you all year long. We really are.

With so much love,

Shamama

 

PS, Letter Mama Yvonne is our behind-the-scenes magic-maker here, and she really made everything happen this year. She puts out the call for letters, reads and approves each and every comment, and basically makes it all work! Mom Marni has handled Tumblr responses year after year. Join me in blowing them a thankful holiday kiss across the internet miles…

Your Holiday Mom: Mama Nic

Hello my darling holiday child!

Come in, come in from out of the cold! You must be freezing! The wind off the lake can be bitter and sharp in December. Come in and warm yourself by the fire. Your father has been tending it all morning so it’s nice and toasty here. He’ll be so happy you’re here. I’ve got your favourite cookies in the oven, and we’re just getting ready for our traditional New Year’s Eve fondue dinner. We can linger over the meal and you can tell us everything you’ve been up to, lately. I’m so excited to hear all about it. Your younger brothers are playing with the dog in the other room. They have been so excited that you’re coming home. They probably heard you come in and will come running any minute so give me just a moment with you. Just a moment to hug you, and tell you what I’d like for you to know before the year closes out at midnight. I love you. I love you and I am so very proud of the person you’re becoming. Your journey isn’t over and you aren’t done but I can see that you are already so strong and so spectacular. 2017 may have been a hard year for a lot of us, but you have wells of strength and reserves the likes of which I have never seen in a person. You are resilient, powerful, and a force to be reckoned with. You may not recognize it within yourself, but I see it. It’s there, simmering beneath your surface. It is a light that will not be dimmed. Do not try to hide it.

Shine as bright as you need to. Your light will spill over to others around you. You never know who needs help pushing back against the shadows.

Before our time together is over, I want to tell you something else. There is a lesson that I don’t think enough people are taught and it is this – love is not a finite resource. I do not have a limit for the number of people I care for or the depth or sincerity of feeling I have for the people in my life. I firmly believe we need to put out as much goodness as we possibly can into the world and telling people what they mean to us is a powerful way to do so. If you take anything from me, please take that. Be warm, be open, and above all else, be kind. There is a dearth of compassion and kindness in the world right now. Don’t contribute to its lack.

Believe in something. Believe in yourself.

You are loved, more than you can possibly know. Beyond measure. You are important. You are worth everything. I will be your rock and your soft place to land if you need it. You will always have a place in my heart.

I love you to the moon and back,

Mama Nic

Your Holiday Mom: Brother Nick

Hello Holiday Sibling!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my letter. Although we have never met I want you to know you I am so honored that we are spending the holiday together! My hope for you going into this holiday season is to be filled with joy, happiness, and all the wonderful food you could want. Myself and so many other people are standing beside you every single day. It is an absolute honor to be apart of your journey as you grow into the amazing, wonderful, beautiful person you are. I hope to see you for one of our holiday feasts. Complete with a roasted bird, awful dad jokes, and questionable side dishes that people eat to be polite.

Come sit around and play board games with missing pieces where we just make up the rules anyway. I want you when it is time to pick teams. Although you probably don’t want to be on my team. I have a tendency to lose a lot, especially when it comes to games that involve drawing.

I can’t begin to understand some of the hardships you’ve endured. I hope that you are safe and comfortable and don’t have to walk around with your guard up. I’m sorry if people close to you let you down or hurt you. You are not an outcast, you are loved by millions of people. Surround yourself with them. Find beautiful people, who are kind, encouraging, and compassionate like you are. Know that it is ok to cry and be sad, don’t push things deep down inside of you. I encourage you to reach out to someone and talk to them. We’re here like we’ve always been and will always be.

I want you to know that I will be thinking about you this season and always. We may not be blood related and there may be distance between us, but you will be in my thoughts. Wishing and hoping nothing but the best for you.

So please, continue to be you. Discover your self and don’t let the negative stand in the way of your dreams. Remain kind and let your light shine brighter than the sun. Share your light with others. I will always support you. You are so incredibly important to me and I can’t wait to see you achieve everything you’ve ever wanted.

I love you, and I wish you all the success in the world! You are the best sibling I could ever hope for.

Much much much love,

Your Brother Nick

Your Holiday Mom: Mom Shannon

To hear Mom Shannon read her letter, click here!

Welcome to our home!

We’ve been waiting for you. It seems like we’ve been waiting forever because we are just so excited to invite you in, welcome you, hear about your journey and see all that you’ve become.

We counted the days. Knowing, it would just not the same until you were here.

You’ll  find our home filled with an eclectic group of wonderful, loving people – we call them our tribe.  The backdoor is always open – so there are often teens, neighbors, and friends who drop by. We are chosen family who stick together through thick and thin. I think you’ll find you fit right in.

As you arrive and come up the stairs, you’ll smell homemade chai or egg nog and warm apple cider on the stove.  Sandra makes the best turkey. Sheldon makes the best pumpkin pie. Bob makes the best salmon, though he is also talking about shucking oysters this year. Noah’s banana bread is famous throughout the state. Taft loves to create a tasty cheese plate. Sean’s got a mushroom recipe that is simply out of this world. John makes a beet salad to die for. I make sure there are endless yummy snicky snacks (as we call them!) on the table so no one is ever without a bite to eat.

We love to tell stories of our recent adventures – and will be most anxious to hear yours. Tata will want to ask about your astrological sign and see what is in the stars for you. We are grateful people, who talk about the small things we appreciate – gorgeous colors in the sky, well-designed objects, exquisite flavors, lovely friendships, and any sort of travel.  We are also a group who shares our hopes and dreams for the future.  What dreams do you have? What are you hoping for? We’ll want to hold space for all that your heart desires. We strategize together how to make our dreams (big or small) come true.

Often, Noah and I will participate in a holiday race. Do you want to join us for a 5K? And on sunny holidays, we may head to the beach for a walk or a surf. It’s always a good time to look at the horizon and see the rise and fall of the ocean.  There’s a canyon nearby where we can go on a walk if it’s too chilly for water time.

As the world churns about, we gather often as a tribe to celebrate what is uniquely ours. We welcome you in. Being yourself in the world is no easy task.  Come inside. Settle in.  Be yourself.

We’ve been waiting for you.

Let’s celebrate!

Your Holiday Mom Shannon

Your Holiday Mom: Mama Gigi

Hello, my love!

My family and I love you so much. Even though we don’t know each other, we love you, unconditionally. My hopes, wishes and prayers for your this holiday season are that your needs (all of them, mental, physical, spiritual and emotional) are met beyond measure. May your blessings over flow. Life can really be “interesting” and my wishes for you, is that the “interesting” means excellent!

I have been with my husband, Jim for six years. We aren’t technically married, we are in a domestic partnership. We have had our ups and downs, but still together. We have a cat, Trixie that he has had since she was 6 weeks old. She is going on 13 and a royal pain in the butt, but we wouldn’t trade her for the world. I have a 27 year old daughter, Mandy and a 19 month old grandson Max, who is the light of my life. Mandy was on a wild journey and came through the fire like a champ. Max definitely breathed new life into our family and saved him mommy’s life!

Our holiday traditions used to involve my grandmother, Mary Lou, but she passed away at 98 in January of 2016. It hit our family hard not having her there last season. We didn’t really celebrate Christmas as we were all broke and just kind of lost without the matriarch.

We have family members all over the country. I have family in California (my uncle and his partner and one cousin) Seattle (a cousin) Michigan (Where I am originally from, one cousin still lives there) Ohio (more cousins and an aunt. Her husband passed away recently and they are scattering his ashes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan soon). Connecticut and New York (uncle, his wife and another cousin). My husband has a sister and brother in law in Spokane Washington and a mother in Connecticut . He doesn’t have any contact with them and it pains him, but life is life. You don’t have to like it, but you have to accept it.

We are a diverse group. Some are Christian, some are Jewish, some are atheist some Buddhist, some of us are straight, bi, gay, undecided. We are accepting of all. My daughter is active in the trans community. Her best friend was trans and he passed away about 5 years ago. We all miss him dearly.

We embrace you, we love you and we want your holiday season and the rest of your life to be one blessing after another.

Everyone in my family has been battling depression for most of our lives, but we have survived. You can too. It isn’t easy, but giving up isn’t an option.

There have been many times in my life when good friends were much more like family than my blood family. If you don’t feel accepted or loved by your family of origin, know that you can create a new family of your choice. I am with you in spirit and accept you, no matter what.

Please know that a total stranger loves you, prays for you and is sending you light, love and good vibes and wants nothing but the best for you.

Mama Gigi

Your Holiday Mom: Momma Chris

My Special Child,

I am not the “Momma” I thought I would be. The one I yearned for myself as a child, the one I vowed to be as I got older. I am however proud of the Momma I became. I wanted a dozen children to love and nurture. I learned being a Momma hasn’t as much to do with bringing a child in to the world as it does cherishing every child who is brought into your world.

I do have two children who grew within my body. But there are many of you who grew within my heart just as easily. All of my children are at least young adults now. One of my girls became engaged to a lovely young woman this year, and gifted my husband and my hearts with two grandsons. I wish very much to include you in my heart over this season as well.

There is no failure in being the best and truest you that you can be. You are everything positive in this world. You are a light shining clearly for all who are worthy to be brought to. Life isn’t always easy. And being human is sometimes very difficult. Stand true to the goodness within your heart, and stand proudly of who you are. Only you can define who that person looking back from the mirror “is”.

My wishes for you are to have no more than you need, but enough to share as needed. I wish I could deal our UNO cards to you, remind you it’s your roll in Yahtzee. I wish I could take you outside, and force you to dance in the rain (because you will pretend you hate the very idea). I wish you to find yourself walking a trail in nature one day and realize YOU are a part of all you see, and then you move a spider to safety. I wish for you to feel the warmth of a true smile cross your lips, and to see this smile in the eyes of another. I wish you to never think for once you are “too old” to snuggle, and to always be true to yourself. You are a perfect you.

I want you to give me something in return. A promise. To remember the following words I write to you, my cherished one, as this is my life motto.

When you walk through the forest- note every leaf and seed upon the ground just as you see the tree. The seeds and leaves are just as important as the tree from where they came. They have a job to do, and are set out a course. We all have a turn in this. We nourish the tree and critters, and one day we will be just as grounded as the tallest Oak. I want you to continue walking, each stone and pebble- see them for the beauty and knowledge they contain. They are the ones who have been there before us. Choose to walk with someone when you can, but never ever fear walking your path alone. There will always be someone amazing around the bend. And when you reach the creek, wade through the water and splash around a bit. Promise me you won’t always cross by way of bridges.

May you find the forests of your life to contain as much beauty as I know there is within you. And may you see that same beauty within yourself.

I love YOU my child.

Momma Chris

Your Holiday Mom: Mama Carol

Welcome home,come in and take off those snowy boots, and gloves. We put them by the fire. They are always nice and warm when we venture out again. Would you like something warm to drink? Anything you want is most likely here for you. I always have delicious hot mulled cider and cocoa with real whipped cream.

Lets sit and relax. Maybe you would like to share a Holiday memory with me?  I know this time of year brings many feelings to the surface. I am a really good listener. I would love to learn more about your life experiences that are part of who you are today.

May I tell you about my favorite Holiday? It Happened forty years ago. Seems like another lifetime ago.  It was December of 1977 when I received the most beautiful gift ever.  She weighed 9lbs,12oz. They brought her to my bedside. I was filled with mystical wonder and then realized she came with no instructions.  She gave me purpose and a new identity.  I was now a mother.

Since then our holiday begins with her birthday celebration, I would love for you to stay I could use your help in convincing her that turning forty is not the end of the world. My daughter still insists that I make shepherd’s pie for her birthday dinner. There has to be chocolate cake and ice cream too. You will hear my coffee grinder as I am very particular about my coffee. Must be rich and fresh.

Did I tell you my daughter has two boys? Yes I have two grandson’s that will be joining us. My grandson’s love to join my husband in coming up with puns. It’s a really big “dill” as Charlie says. Ok so I warned you about the “puns” I better warn you about our 90 lb Golden. We have a difficult time restraining him from opening gifts that are not his. We’ll do our best!.  I do love how excited he gets when I hang his stocking. You know you have a stocking also. Everyone has one, and yes there is always a delicious gingerbread man at the top! I no longer bake them, fortunately I get them at an awesome local bakery. Everyone is happy about that!

I hope you enjoy my Dicken’s Village as much as I do. It really comes to life at night when the lights are on. No one believes that I can hear them singing Carols, but I do. The Village reminds me that the most hardened hearts can mysteriously open for love to enter.

Including you in my life is bringing so much joy! I’m a big believer that gratitude brings even more joy so thank-you for telling me your memories and listening to my favorite one.  Happy Holidays. I will hold you in my heart throughout the coming year!

Love,

Mama Carol

Your Holiday Mom: Mommy Kathleen

Dear Holiday Child,

I’m so glad you are here with us, to join in a celebration I once thought I’d never have. When I first came out, a dear cousin who had lived with us and shared every Christmas with us told me that it was too bad because I was “giving up too much.” I was shocked to hear this from someone I thought of as a brother. He told me he’d always thought I’d be a wonderful mom.

Well, this year, you and I will be celebrating Christmas with my wife and 3-year-old daughter.

We go all out for Christmas, starting as soon as possible. This year I’ve tricked my wife into hanging up Christmas lights in October! (My previous best was two weeks before Thanksgiving.) They were  part of the decorations for our Stranger Things themed Halloween party.

I hope you like to eat, because my wife is a baker. And nobody buys cakes in December, which leaves her a LOT of time to bake. We have ten different types of cookies (at least) and petit fours, pies and Christmas cupcakes. Don’t you love the marshmallow snowmen on the vanilla cupcake? Try the eggnog one too, it’s incredible. Sometimes I think I like her gingerbread cupcake more than the actual cookie!

Just to warn you, it’s going to be a little chaotic on Christmas morning. I know some families just give gifts to the kids. Well, we give gifts to everybody. We all sit in a big circle in our most comfortable pajamas (get downstairs early and you can snag a spot of one of the two couches). Whenever someone is about to open a special present, everyone stops to watch. I know you’re thinking it must be something handmade, right? Well…last year everyone stopped to watch me open a huge tube in which my wife had wrapped about twenty pairs of socks…all attached to each other with safety pins. The circle of socks went all the way around the room twice! I really wanted those particular socks…I just didn’t envision removing safety pins every morning to pick a new pair of socks!

So when you wrap your presents, keep in mind that the presentation will be appreciated as much, or maybe more, than the actual item. Hiding a tiny item inside a huge series of boxes is considered high comedy in this house.

We are so glad you are with us. We want you here with us, feeling loved and accepted, laughing and playing on Christmas Day, with no doubts as to whether you fit in. Please, close your eyes for a moment, and see our family. There’s no side looks, no snide comments and no cold shoulders here. And there are many, many families like ours. Someday, this will be something you will experience with your eyes open. Until then, I’m your holiday mom.

Love,

Mommy Kathleen

Your Holiday Mom: Sister Sarah

Dear you,

I’m so excited that you are here for the holidays this year! It’s going to be a good one, so I hope you brought a good appetite! Give us a second to hang onto Otto, our golden lab. He loves making new friends, but at only one and a half, he sometimes wants to start those friendships by running to meet you at the door. He’s a great nap buddy though and just loves having everyone around, and he’s working on less jumping and more kisses. Give him some peanut butter and you’ll be best friends.

You’ll notice that our house has lots of folks coming and going over the holidays. Family here is by choice, so you’ll get to meet lots of our not-biological family over your stay. Don’t worry about how we got connected; we’re family now and that includes you. Once you’re part of the family, we’re here for you no matter what. If this year hasn’t been super easy for you, know that you are coming into a home where you can forget about that stuff and just spend time with people who love you. We’re not disappointed, and there’s no expectations of who you need to be (other than yourself). But if you want to talk, you’ll usually find me sitting up with a book in the living room pretty late with tea and cookies. My brothers and I also do a lot of our best talks while driving together, so if you want to “run errands” sometime, we can do that too.

The holidays are mainly focused on 2 things: food and together time. Mitch is our resident chef, so he runs the kitchen, except for baked goods, which will be me and maybe you? You’re welcome to just sit at the stools in the kitchen and taste all the cookies and stuff if that suits you better. We usually make a family trip out to the breakfast place where Dad is a regular and have typical diner breakfast. Vegetarian options are available. We also sometimes do a fancy tea party. No dressing up required, but we’ll have scones and sandwiches and tea and finger foods. It’s one of the best parts of the holiday. If you have a complicated relationship with food, don’t sweat it. Just join us at the table if you can and let us know what you like to eat.

For together time, we’ll play board games, and one of us usually buys one as a gift for the family so that we can all learn a new one together over the holiday. We’ve also gone out to do an escape room the past few years, and we’re always recruiting for people to join our team!

Otherwise, we keep things pretty chill. Stay in your pjs or comfy clothes if you want. Grab snacks from the kitchen or the pantry whenever you’re hungry. They’ll be tea on from the time Dad wakes up at 5:45am until Mum goes to bed at 12:30am (so basically always), Mum will have gone overboard stocking the fridge with juice, Mitch will probably have made eggnog, and Russ will do a beer run with any of the boys that are coming over. If you have a favourite snack, please tell us before you get here so we can make sure we have it in stock.

Anyway, we’re just excited that you’re here. We want you to know how much we love you just as you are. Don’t forget that, okay?

Love always,

Sarah

PS The holidays are plus one friendly, so if you have a partner please stop back with them too! We have lots of space for everyone.

Your Holiday Mom: Mummy Boo

To our dear Holiday Child

I am so glad you can be with us today! Your younger brothers have been counting down the days until you got here, and of course your dad and I are happy to see you.

Come and join us for a warm drink, we’ve lit the fire and you can make yourself comfortable. It’s that funny time of year where it’s not quite Christmas yet, so please excuse the mess as we try and get organised.

A lot of that mess is being caused by the cats (yes, there are now two of them), and their main project is destroying the Christmas tree. In fact….. yes……  they’ve knocked it over again! When you and your brothers have finished laughing, leave them to repair the tree and come and tell me and your dad all of your news. As proud parents we always want to know how you are doing.

If you’re feeling creative you can help your brothers, they’re painting Christmas pictures on stones and we’re hiding them around the neighbourhood for children to find. So far they’ve made a star, a snowman, and a robin. You don’t have to be any good at drawing, holiday messages are fine too. This neighbourhood game has been going on a while, and although your brothers claim it isn’t quite as good as Pokémon hunting, it’s still fun. What did you make? ‘Love for the holidays’ – that’s beautiful. If you want some glitter to make it sparkle we can let it all dry while we have lunch.

It’s getting darker, so time to head out and hide those secret stones on the neighbourhood walls – and to check out all the Christmas lights people have put up. It looks so bright and festive, and I am so pleased to be with you walking together and enjoying this time. Don’t hide this stone though, it’s one for you to keep in your pocket. We made it for you, it has a heart on it – a reminder that we carry you in our hearts, always.

Can you hear that? It sounds like Christmas carols. Your brothers have run on ahead and are shouting and waving for us to follow. It’s the fire service – they’re out with the fire engine and Father Christmas in his sleigh. They do this every year, collecting for charity, but I forgot tonight was our turn for their visit.  I am so glad it happened while you were here and we can stand as a family, singing together in the street and waving as Santa goes by.

Let’s head home, back to that warm fire and have a relaxing evening together. Who knows, the cats may even give up on trashing the tree and snuggle down with you instead.

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas.

love

Mummy Boo, Daddy Bill, and your brothers.