Thursday, December 10, 2009

The TRUE meaning of Christmas

Today I was able to be a part of something truly special. Christmas means different things to different people. As I get older, I find that Christmas means so much more to me than the gifts I hope to open on Christmas morning. While I love to buy gifts for my friends and family and while I love to spoil my son - Christmas to me means so much more these days. In a world where so many people are hurting, I can't help but feel some responsibility to ease that hurt where and when possible. To me Christmas means lifting up others who need a lift, spoiling others who don't have the means to spoil themselves, volunteering my time to help someone in need, a box of food, a box of presents, making sure a child has something to open on Christmas morning, a hug or a kind word and so much more. It isn't about the latest gizmo or gadget I really don't need anyway or about spending more money than I have to satisfy a worldly desire. Toys break, clothes get old and worn, gizmos and gadgets are fun for a minute but the things we do to lift the spirits of another last forever. Today I was a part of something that gave me a glimpse into the later and I couldn't have asked for anything better this Christmas season. As far as I am concerned Christmas has come and gone for me and it was one of the best Christmas's yet.

My favorite radio morning show is 97.1 ZHT. I love to listen to the show every morning from 7:oo am to 10:00 am. I often find myself laughing out loud at my desk while I listen to the DJ's Frankie, DB and Jessica. I am always sad when 10:00 am comes and the show is over. If I could I would listen all day long. Every year at Christmas time the radio station, supported by local businesses has a Secret Santa segment on the show. They encourage people to go to their website and nominate families who could use a little extra help at Christmas time. I had been listening to the morning show Secret Santa segments and found myself wondering if I knew anyone who could benefit from the show's generosity. After little thought it was clear. I had to nominate my friend Scott and his little girl Lucy. I submitted the following story to the radio station two Wednesday's ago and much to my surprise my letter was selected. Below is my submission letter:

I would like to nominate my friend Scott and his daughter two year old daughter Lucy for this years secret santa.

This past May Scott's lovely wife Lariann (26) passed away after an almost three year battle with brain cancer. Larrian's brain tumor was first discovered when she was just shy of 20 weeks pregnant with Scott and Lariann's baby girl, their first child. In fact, Lariann and Scott found out the sex of their baby just prior to Lariann's first major surgery to remove the orange size tumor on her brain.

Throughout her pregnancy Lariann underwent Chemo and radiation and was still able to deliver their healthy miracle baby Lucy.

Lariann was a little person with a big heart and a big personality. Throughout her battle with cancer she remained upbeat. She was still the teasing joker everyone knew her to be.

Lariann was laid to rest on what would have been Scott and Lariann's 6th wedding anniversary. It has been a tough and trying year for Scott and his family and I know that this Christmas will be an especially difficult one with Lariann gone.

Scott was a wonderful husband and is a devoted father to little Lucy. Just prior to Lariann's death Scott and Lariann were able to purchase their first home. Now that Scott is a single parent working to support he and Lucy alone he works both as an EMT and also a fire fighter with our local fire station. Despite his challenges he continues to put others before himself on a daily basis.

Anything you can do to lighten Scott's load, ease his burden, and put a smile back on his face would be much appreciated. Not only would it be a gift to Scott and Lucy to receive a little something this holiday season to make this Christmas a special one but it would also be a dream come true for all who know and love Scott, Lucy and Lariann. Thank you in advance. I love you guys!

A day or so after I submitted my letter I received a call from the radio station telling me that my letter had been selected and they were going to fulfill my Christmas wish to help my friend and his little girl. It was a dream come true. I quickly got to work calling both Scott and Lariann's parents to find out some things that both Scott and Lucy would like to have for Christmas. With the help of both Scott and Lariann's mothers I was able to pass the information onto the radio station. Scotts mum was all set to make sure Scott would be home and by the phone and Lariann's mum was planning on taking pictures when it all went down. Scott has ABSOLUTELY no idea. Then the wait began. It has been the longest week and a half EVER! I've had trouble eating, sleeping and working because I have been so excited.

Today finally arrived and I found myself in studio at 97.1 at 7:45 am this morning. I was thrilled to be able to meet Frankie, DB and Jessica. To hear my segment on the radio go to this link and click on the story for Scott and Lucy-

Below are some photos from the day. The first one is of me in the studio with the DJ's and then the others are photos that the radio took when they were delivering the presents to Scott and Lucy.

Frankie, Me, DB and Jessica

Little Lucy opening some of her gifts

Scott looking on as Lucy has fun with her gifts

Lariann's passing was and still is extremely sad to me. Like most tragedies her death put things into perspective for me. I can't imagine leaving my Brad alone with Gabe now and Brad having to do everything alone. Though I couldn't change the outcome of Lariann's illness when she passed away I made a silent promise to her that I would do anything I could to help her Scott and her sweet little Lucy until they could be together again. Until now I didn't feel like I had been able to do anything. Words simply can't express how grateful I am to have been a part of making this Christmas a little brighter for Scott and Lucy. I am eternally grateful to everyone who was a part of this and who helped make it happen. This is what Christmas is all about.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Easy French Bread

I love French bread. I especially love warm, fresh out of the oven, homemade French bread to serve with dinner. A while ago my good friend Amber made me some of this bread and brought it over. She then sent me the recipe and I recently had a chance to try it. It was delicious and the perfect addition to our meal that night.

No Fail French Bread
From Amber

Yeild: 2 large Loaves

2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
6 cups flour
1 egg; beaten
sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

In a large bowl combine water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Stir in salt, oil and 3 cups of flour. Stir virgorously. Add remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes and stir down. Repeat this process 5 times, which will take one hour.

Place dough onto floured board. Knead only enough to coat dough with flour so it can be handled. divide in half. Roll into two rectangles about 9X12 inches long. Roll up from long side. Moisten seam with a small amount of water and pinch to seal. Arrange both loaves lengthwise on a large, well greased cooikie sheet. Place seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 min.

Glaze with beaten egg (brush on gently) and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds ( I didnt have any). Use a very sharp knife to gently make 3 diagonal gashes in top of each loaf.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.