>Thanksgiving Week

>Well, it’s that time of year. The annual turkey vs beef debate is heating up. The boxes from Christmas closet have been carted into the house for sorting and emptying. The football rivalries are filling the TV.

I’m actually looking forward to holiday season. We’re getting our house ready early because our annual open house will be the first week of December. We’re also decorating an extra “home”.

One of our favorite local organizations- Give Kids The World- hosts families who are visiting Theme Park World through the help of the Make A Wish Foundation. These families stay in a villa (kind of like a duplex) at the Kids’ Village, where they can eat at the cafeteria, watch movies or play or swim… all at their own pace and free of charge. Some of these kids are quite ill; others are on the rebound, but their families haven’t had a break from the realities of illness in a while.

My nephew and his family stayed there a few years back, when he made a “wish trip” to DisneyWorld, since that was the place where Mickey was and close to his grandma. It was just as he was finishing treatments for luekemia. Thankfully, he is now in remission, but at that point, we weren’t sure that they’d ever make a family vacation with all the kids again.

This year, we got a notice that the village was looking for volunteers to decorate a villa. Anywhere from 4-6 families will spend a week in each villa between mid-November and mid-January this year. We’ll go out next weekend and put up a tree, a wreath and some other decorations around the villa for the visiting families to enjoy. We’re all excited about the opportunity to give back to a place that brought a lot of joy to our extended family.

This is just one part of our efforts to make this Christmas less about stuff and more about service and charity. We’re actually planning to give alternative gifts, like donations to charities or experiences, rather than lots of packages under the tree. Amazingly, the FPK has already found a couple of groups he’d like to see “gifted” in his name. And he’s thinking about what he can “give” to the rest of us from his own stash of cash. As an added bonus, that means no crazy trips to the mall on black Friday. WooHoo!

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