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One of the things that I hate most about winter is the worry that it is so, so difficult for so many people and animals. Ask my husband, I truly do lay awake at night worrying about the cats outside, kids without coats, and most importantly, the homeless. And while we are active in charities we support throughout the year, I feel like winters like this leave almost a helpless feeling at times. There seems to be SO MUCH need. Where do we even start?

When I saw Hadley’s Urban Grape blog post the other day, I thought it was the perfect place. The Urban Grape stores are more than just wine stores; they are places that so many Bostonians have come to love over the years because of the beautiful spaces, events, and people.

The blog post introduced me to the Old South Church’s Boston Warm. The Old South Church is a place where, whenever nearby, I have found peace and welcome, especially in the weeks that followed the Boston Marathon bombing. It is warmth, and it has opened its doors to people who need it most during this awful winter. In addition to providing day shelter, they are collecting items for people in need. You can visit their Amazon wish list here.

The Urban Grape is getting involved and giving you even more incentive to visit their stores this weekend.

From their blog post:

From Thursday to Sunday of this week, we will be collecting donation items for #BostonWarm at both of our stores. If you bring a donation in during this time, you will receive 10% off beer and spirits purchases (no minimum or maximum) and bottles of wine, or 20% off cases of wine (12 bottles of wine). Applies to in-stock items only.

Donations include:
- Non-perishable food. Canned items must be in pop-top lids.
- Warm hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and socks. No other clothing items please (they cannot store them on the other side)
- $43 checks made out to City Mission Society with Boston Warm in the memo line. This is to rent storage lockers where the homeless can store their items.

Let’s continue to show the world that we are a community who takes care of one another, even when it seems like everything is going wrong around us.

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Brunch is one of my favorite meals, and going out for brunch in Boston this weekend is a must. The Greater Boston Food Bank Super Hunger Brunch is a huge event that provides much-needed funds to feed the hungry in the Boston area.

Super Hunger Brunch

On January 24 and 25, 2015, participating restaurants are donating their time and services to host brunch with proceeds benefiting GBFB. Although online gift certificate sales are closed, you can still Brunch for a Cause by making a reservation at the restaurant of your choice and pay at the time of your visit. Every $1 spent provides 3 meals to those in need in eastern Massachusetts. Below is the list of participating restaurants and their contact info!

Participating Restaurants – Saturday, January 24

Participating Restaurants – Sunday, January 25

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Finding the Light

candle

It is a season of darkness, this time of year. This week I haven’t seen daylight much at all, what with the late sunrise and early sunset and dark, rainy afternoons. It affects me deeply, and I am counting the days until we are seeing more daylight each day. At the end of the day, a dark sky isn’t much of anything; I have so much to be grateful for, so much comfort and joy.

This time of year is full of festivity and gifts and food and loved ones, yet it can be such a hard and lonely time for so many people, for so many reasons. Perhaps it’s seasonal blues, the loss of a job or a relationship or a loved one that has one feeling alone. Or maybe it’s a general loneliness, being away from home or not having a home at all; the joy we’re surrounded by often magnifies the pain and creates confusion on how we are supposed to feel.

Even in my own excitement about the season, grief creeps in. The smell of sap as we decorated our tree instantly brought me back to being a kid and longing for that feeling of having a whole family around me. And forget about the Night Before Christmas; my father read that every Christmas Eve until the year he died, and I cant even be in the room to hear  it now.

When Santa reads it this Sunday at our Breakfast with Santa event for work, I’ll be biting my lip hard to keep the tears back. I love this time of year, but it can be so very hard and I know that my own hard, compared to that of others, is so very easy.

With all that said, finding the light is something I vow to do during these dark days. I am helped by the ability to help others, to donate to charities or to check in with those I know who are feeling blue. I know I find more joy in buying gifts for children in a shelter than I do receiving things for myself.

I’m inspired by movements like 26 Acts of Kindness, which for the 26 days leading up to the anniversary of that horrifying, dark  day in Newtown, features one of the people who were killed that day and simply asks followers to perform an act of kindness in memory of each person. Little beacons of light all gathered together can make a light as bright as the sun, I know it’s true.

Simple pleasures like cups of tea, the light of a candle, a little bit of yoga, or a favorite song help to help light those candles in our hearts. . . The season isn’t about piles of gifts or who can cook the most food, but more about love and appreciation and reaching out to those who need it most, whether they ask for it or not.

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