Flying High For Kids

Imagine if your child was in the hospital right now. While the rest of the world is decorating for the holidays, attending parties, shopping, baking, and wrapping presents, you are spending every minute in the hospital at the side of your sick child.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a part of a very special event at the Dallas Children’s Medical Center. Along with the Pilots for Kids Charitable Organization, I was able to sign and give my books as Christmas presents to children who are in the hospital.

While it was difficult to see sick children this time of year, it was heartwarming to see each of the children and their parents escorted personally by a pilot who helped them select several Christmas presents. I covered the lump in my throat with a smile and greeted each child as I told them about my books and let them choose one. The kids were very excited to be receiving gifts and the parents were so grateful for the outpouring of love toward their children.

If you haven’t heard of them, Pilots for Kids is an international, nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization that was founded in 1983 by airline crewmembers to address the needs of hospitalized children.

Every year, members visit thousands of children in hospitals, shelters, orphanages and other facilities where there are children in need. While the visits occur throughout the year, the majority of them are during the month of December when members will visit and pass out toys to hospitalized children.

With Paul Brown, treasurer for Pilots for Kids

Holiday toys and other needed items such as wheelchairs and special beds are purchased for children through fundraising. The Dallas Pilots for Kids members hold an annual golf scramble every summer to fundraise for their holiday hospital visits. 100% of all donations are spent on items for children.

All Pilots for Kids members are volunteers and their administrative costs are covered by the $15 annual membership dues. The good news, is that anyone can join and support this wonderful organization that is making a positive difference in the lives of so many.  I did…how about you?

Saint Nicholas To Santa Claus

So many of our holiday traditions were begun many years ago by people who had no idea that their actions would influence the behavior of future generations.  The last two days, I’ve spent Christmas shopping for my family and decorating our home for the holidays.

Today, as I found spots for our Santa Claus figurines, I remembered that December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day.  The official name is “Feast of Saint Nicholas Day” and this is an annual Christian celebration to honor the memory of Saint Nicholas on the anniversary of his death.

Image result for Saint Nicholas

We have affectionately nicknamed our modern-day Santa Claus “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” because he is based on the real Saint Nicholas who had a legendary habit of secret gift giving.  In pictures, he even looks like Santa Claus!

The real Saint Nicholas was born in Asia Minor which is now Lycia, Turkey, in the year 270 A.D.  His parents were wealthy and were devout Christians.  They died when Nicholas was very young and he used his entire inheritance to help the needy and the sick.

Saint Nicholas dedicated his life to serving God and to helping people.  He was named the Bishop of Myra as a young man and there were many miracles attributed to him.  Because Nicholas was well known for his generosity, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships, he is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, brewers and students.

Image result for st nicholas

Image result for st nicholas

In European countries today, Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated by giving gifts and attending church services.  Just like our American Christmas Eve tradition, gifts are brought on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day and children put their shoes or boots in front of the fireplace or beside the front door for Saint Nicholas to fill with small presents.  Perhaps our tradition of hanging stockings evolved from the practice of putting shoes or boots out for Saint Nicholas?

Image result for st nicholas

Image result for st nicholas

When I look at my Santa figurines now, I think of this man who lived so long ago and must have taken such delight in giving.  Sometimes the holidays can feel big and expensive and overwhelming. Hopefully, we will have joy in our hearts as we prepare to celebrate the miracle of His birth by giving to others.