My Mom passed away on November 20,2010...just a few days before the big family Thanksgiving we had all so meticulously planned for her. Our family loves Thanksgiving. I would say it has been a bigger holiday in our family than even Christmas. My beloved Grandma was a fabulous cook, and did not know a stranger, so you never knew who might show up at a Holmes Thanksgiving dinner. When she passed away in December 2004, our family struggled to keep Thanksgiving alive without our family matriarch. My Mom stepped into the role and started having the dinners at her house while enthusiastically trying to recreate Grandma's famous rolls and stuffing, but it was still a struggle without Grandma and many of us feared it would never be the same. Nevertheless, my Mom was determined, so we continued the traditions and it was just beginning to feel normal again. And then my Mom passed....

Nothing prepares you. Nothing.You can know it is inevitable and you can think you have prepared yourself, but when you lose your parent, your anchor to everything you have ever been in this life, the one person who knew you when...there are no words.

We started Spread A Little Joy because of my Mom. Even after her devastating diagnosis on November 9, 2009, she kept smiling. She was just so happy to be alive, and as we fulfilled the dreams on her list she was like a child in a candy store, so excited and jubilant over every little thing. It was inspiring to watch and somewhat humbling, because the rest of us weren't always so brave.

When I got the call that a dreamer wanted to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all of her family, my first thought was that I couldn't do this one. Too many painful memories.  But then I realized, maybe this was exactly the dream I needed to fulfill, not just for the dreamer and her family, but for me as well. The woman was in her mid sixties and had 28 family members she wanted to be with for Thanksgiving. No one wanted to cook or clean up, understandably they just wanted to spend their day enjoying one another's company. The date of the meal was in limbo as they waited to see if she was well enough to have it on the actual date of Thanksgiving. I received a call on a Sunday night two weeks before Thanksgiving that they needed to move it up-quickly and was there any way we could pull it off in the next couple days?

Luckily, we are surrounded by big hearts and many willing hands, so we were able to get everything together, a full Turkey dinner with all the trimmings, some lovely table settings complete with flowers and candles, and even some willing dishwashers! Walking into that family home and seeing them all gathered around this woman was probably one of the most difficult things I've had to do in a very long time. The age of the woman, the family gathered around her, it could have been my own family and my heart ached that it was not. Don't get me wrong, my heart sang with Joy (pun intended) that we could bring this family together for one last holiday meal, but it was all I could do not to break down in tears as I registered the loss of my own Mom and the Thanksgiving she missed by mere days. 

The family called and emailed after their meal to thank us for allowing them to just focus on being together without the worries of planning, cooking and cleaning. I will never forget that day, and I believe my Mom and my Grandma were right there with me, helping us pull it off so quickly and holding my hand as I greeted the family and held back the tears.

As we here at Spread A Little Joy continue to fulfill dreams, I hold my Mom and my Grandma in my heart, and am reminded that those we love will live on, because the very things we loved the most about them are the things we will carry on in our own lives-to love often and well, to show kindness to others, and to appreciate the present moment.