What is our mission? That right there is a loaded question. "To create positive memories on Christmas Day for families that are battling terminal cancer." To my family, Christmas was always much, much more than just Christmas to us.
Christmas was when the world was blessed with our dear sweet Jessica, she was a Christmas baby. Every year for Christmas growing up I always remembered half the tree at my grandparents house being Christmas presents... and the other half being birthday gifts for the princess. She was very adamant, in a joking manner, about having her birthday gifts in birthday paper and her Christmas gifts in Christmas paper, it was always a family joke (she was by no means a brat, just the baby of four children so you know how that goes). :)
But this past Christmas was different, the last thing we were thinking of was gifts or Christmas dinner. When that day arrived all we were thinking in the back of our minds, including Jessica herself, was that this very well might be Jess' last Christmas, last birthday (she turned 32)... How in the hell do you even "celebrate" or begin to comprehend that? The answer is...you don't.
We had just been through the most confusing, frustrating, overwhelming, upsetting, terrifying month of our lives and all of a sudden it was Christmas. We obviously did not go Christmas shopping, birthday shopping, didn't get anything for Channing who was 2 years old at the time, nothing for baby Brayden who was still in the NICU, all we had was each other. Every year the Tampa General Nursing staff picks a family to "donate Christmas" to instead of buying each other gifts and doing a Secret Santa-like exchange, this year we were that family. To some that might not appear to be a huge deal but to us, it meant more than anyone could ever begin to imagine.
TGH nursing staff literally filled an entire vehicle up full of gifts for the kids, Jess, and Jeff. They all knew Channing loved Paw Patrol and cars and trains and such (from visiting his mommy and brother often and chatting it up with all the nurses) and got him the coolest gifts ever. That was really his first Christmas where he could open gifts on his own and without them Jess would have never gotten to see her sweet baby boy open Christmas presents.
We also had another Christmas surprise that had yet to appear. Harold, one of Jess and Jeffs' closest friends decided to organize a Christmas drive at their place of employment, The Cheesecake Factory. Harold arrived a few days before Christmas with yet again, a car-load full of gifts for Channing and the rest of the family. It wasn't about the mass amounts of gifts we received, we would have been more than over-joyed with a handful for Channing and that's all. What meant the world to us was seeing Jess's face watching him open those gifts, and for the first time in over a month, everyone in the house had a smile on their face even if it was just for a moment.
This is our mission; to give that same moment of happiness that we will forever hold dear in our hearts to others going through the toughest of days during the holiday season. Whether it is gifts, helping bring Christmas to someone in a treatment center or hospital, helping to get them home that day, cook a meal with them, spend time with their family, etc. Anything and everything we can do to help those on Christmas celebrate it the way that they always have been able to before the "nasty C word" occurred. Together we can make a difference, together we are stronger, together is a wonderful place to be.