A Christmas to Remember

 In Holiday, Just Causes, OBX Community

There have been moments during the holiday season that I have found myself wishing it was another holiday. I mean I would take any other holiday – even Labor Day, which I hate because it signals the end of summer.

As I pull Christmas decorations out of the attic and watch the children’s lists to Santa grow and grow, I have found myself daydreaming of fireworks on the beach in July and jellybeans overflowing in Easter baskets in springtime. Even my subconscious wants an escape from Christmas it seems; I have fallen asleep on cold December nights with visions of carved pumpkins dancing in my head and have awakened thinking of valentines and candy hearts.

MakingCookies400But I have realized in the past few years that if I made some simple changes, it was quite possible to survive the holidays without actually having my skin turn an unappealing shade of green and frantically searching for horns to tie on my dog’s head.

So the first year I didn’t send Christmas cards. I just stopped… and nobody said anything. Well, except for maybe my mother. The next year, I only made one batch of cookies and I put out just a few strings of lights. I refused to fight with the plastic candy canes that typically line our driveway. And last year, the gingerbread house actually stayed in the box. I can only assume it got put back in the attic.

But these changes felt so good that I have begun to look for more ways to simplify the holidays. Perhaps with a little courage, and hopefully not too much therapy, many of us – regardless of our religious affiliations – could get to the point where we could actually enjoy the holidays without all the clutter that fills our heads about what we have to get done in order to make the holidays perfect.
Because let’s face it – it never will be. So you might as well enjoy it for whatever reason it is that you celebrate it.

These are the things I love about Christmas: roasting oysters on the fire with people I love, local holiday festivities, candy canes and gum drops, watching the lights twinkle on the tree with a cup of hot cocoa and my cuddly kids, and clam chowder and good wine on Christmas Eve.

Coco400These are the things I do not like: shopping for gifts, trying to bake when I know I am really bad at it, materialism (especially that) and pulling out all the decorations just to have to put them back up in the attic two weeks later.

Many will probably still consider me a Grinch, but maybe if we can just hold onto a handful of things we love and hold dear, we can begin to pare down that never-ending list and free ourselves so that we can embrace what we really care about, whether it is a religious ceremony, a special holiday meal or a visit to a local holiday event.

It’s not easy, so feel free to take it slowly when attempting to simplify your holidays. And by the way, don’t look at Pinterest. There is nothing remotely simple about that website.

Perhaps the most thoughtful gift we can give this holiday season to a friend, family member, or co-worker is a donation to a local charity in their name in lieu of a traditional gift.

Dare County charities work tirelessly to feed the hungry, help the poor and provide medical services for local residents who have no other options. The holiday season can be particularly challenging.

“Gifts to a charity are such a wonderful idea during the holiday season,” says Lorelei Costa of the Outer Banks Community Foundation, “especially for those community-minded people on your list who already ‘have everything.’ ”

Loismary Hoehne, Food for Thought’s Board of Directors president, said monetary gifts in someone’s name are the largest portion of the organization’s donations. “We get gift donations not only at Christmastime, but anytime – even for birthdays or anniversaries.”

SantaLetterInterfaith Community Outreach helps neighbors in our communities in a temporary financial crisis. Last year, the organization assisted 938 families and provided $228,000 to clients because of the generosity of the community. “The winter months are the hardest time for the needy,” says Jenniffer Albanese, ICO’s executive director. “Instead of gifts, it’s a great idea to donate over the holidays.”

Like ICO, the Outer Banks Community Foundation sends a holiday card to the honoree, notifying him or her of the donation. “We also list these gifts in our annual report, under the name of the donor and under the name of the designee,” Costa said.

Donations are deposited directly to whatever grant-making scholarship fund that the donor designates. “In other words, the donations go right back out to local nonprofits and students in our community.”

There are a few details to bear in mind when making a donation in lieu of a gift. When donations are made to a 501(c) (3) organization, it is the person who writes the check who takes an IRS tax deduction on an itemized tax return, not the gift recipient. Also, care should be taken to select a charity that the gift recipient would endorse and support. Better yet, check out the bumper stickers on your friend’s car or find out where they do volunteer work and target that group for your donation. Christmas is not the time to thrust a controversial agenda on someone else. ♦ 


Give to Local Charities

Following is a list of local charities to consider for making donations. Be sure to include the honoree’s address with the donation so the charity can send a card to your gift recipient notifying them of the donation.

Interfaith Community Outreach provides services to people on the Outer Banks who are facing a temporary emergency crisis and is supported by over fifty faith communities and numerous businesses. Donate online at interfaithoutreach.com. Financial contributions can mailed to P.O. Box 87, Nags Head, NC 27959 or in person at 4301 S. Croatan Highway in Nags Head. For financial assistance, call the office at 252.480.0070.

Community Care Clinic of Dare County provides more than $5
in services for every $1 spent. Funds are used to provide necessary healthcare to those in our community who do not have access to healthcare. Donations are accepted online at dareclinic.org or can be mailed to Community Care Clinic of Dare, P.O. Box 1329, Nags Head, NC, 27959. Or call 252.261.3041.

Food For Thought provides nutritious, nonperishable meals for Dare County elementary children whose families who qualify. The program provides breakfasts, lunches and snacks on the weekends and holidays during the school year. Donate online at foodforthoughtobx.com or send donations to Food for Thought, Inc. P.O. Box 1167 Kitty Hawk, NC 27949. Or call 252.480.0036.

Outer Banks Community Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations, religious institutions and government agencies on the Outer Banks that demonstrate innovative ways to address area needs. Donations can be made online at obcf.org or by mailing a check to OBCF, 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949. Or call 252.261.8839.

Outer Banks Relief Foundation assists citizens in our community who are burdened with financial difficulties due to a debilitating disease or illness or a personal tragedy or crisis. In $500 to $3,000 increments, they have provided over $875,000 to over 410 local citizens in need. Donations can be made online at outerbanksrelieffoundation.com or by mailing a check to 103 East 8th St. Nags Head, NC 27959. Or call 252.261.2004.

Outer Banks SPCA manages the Dare County Animal Shelter and provides a loving environment and temporary house for lost, stray or unwanted domestic animals. You can make donations online at obxspca.org or by stopping by the shelter at 1031 Driftwood Drive, P.O. Box 2477, Manteo, NC 27954. Or call 252.475.5620.

Feline Hope provides food, medical care and loving homes to homeless cats and kittens and is a non-profit, no-kill volunteer organization. It also provides spay, neuter and medical assistance so owners can keep their pets. Donations can be made online at felinehope.org or by mailing a check to Feline Hope, P.O. Box 893, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949. Or call 252.255.3365.

Outer Banks Hotline provides crisis intervention, temporary shelter, information and referrals, advocacy and prevention education services in the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault response. Donations can be made online at obhotline.org or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 1490, Manteo, NC 27954. Or call 252.473.5121.

Or pick from four local Food Banks:

Beach Food Pantry at 500 Sand Dune Drive in Kitty Hawk accepts online donations at beachfoodpantry.org. Donations can also be mailed to P.O. Box 1224, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948. Or call 252.261.2756.

Lower Currituck Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 374 Grandy, NC 27939 or in person donations at 6334 Caratoke Highway in Grandy, NC. Or call 252.202.6005.

Manteo Food Pantry Donations received at Mt. Olivet Methodist Church, 300 Ananias Dare St. Manteo, NC 27954. Or call 252.437.2089.

Hatteras Island Food Pantry Donations can be mailed to: P.O. Box 1591, Buxton, NC 27920. Or call 252.995.3662.

Michelle Wagner
Author: Michelle Wagner

Michelle Wagner is the editor at Three Dog Ink and has been living and writing on the Outer Banks for more than 15 years. Contact Michelle

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