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Discovering the Missing Ingredient

This is hard to admit, but it’s December 15th and I just found my holiday spirit…yesterday.

Sure, I went through the motions of decorating the house. Heck, I even trimmed the tree and managed to adorn the outside with twinkling icicles.  The  “holiday music all-the-time” radio station has been playing continuously since Thanksgiving andour  Elf on the Shelf tradition has been in full swing.  Unfortunately, none of this has seemed to help.

Honestly, I was beginning to feel a bit like a Scrooge and I’ve procrastinated everything from Christmas cards to holiday shopping.

But that all changed yesterday.

As I set out early yesterday morning, to begin what I feared was going to be a dreadful day of shopping, I realized that my Ebenezer mood was disappearing as quickly as a plate of warm cookies and milk.   I filled my bags with the perfect gifts for everyone on my list.  From the elementary school teacher, to the helpful neighbor hosting tomorrow’s Christmas party, to a church volunteer, down to my very own children.

And just like that, I discovered the missing ingredient. The one thing that has finally made all the difference.

I discovered the gift of giving.

My heart grew three times its normal size yesterday when I realized that giving is what I love most about this time of year.  And up until yesterday, it was the one thing that was keeping me from fully experiencing the holiday cheer.  And as any baker knows, no recipe is complete without the perfect measurement of each essential ingredient and giving is, and has always been, the joy of the season.

As I continue to search for those perfect gifts, I’m reminded of the most important gifts of all.  Those that are given to help others.  So while I will be helping Marines provide Toys for Tots and the American Red Cross donate vaccines for villages, I have also made a contribution to a special Recipe4Hope – one that will help support individuals with autism and their families.  The Autism Science Foundation has once again launched this clever campaign to trigger an avalanche of funding for autism research.  By providing critical autism research fellowships, the Autism Science Foundation continues to support scientists who are working to determine the causes of autism and develop better treatments for individuals with autism.

If you want to discover the missing ingredient in your life, and bring a bit of holiday cheer to others, join me in building a snowman of hope. Make a donation today and your heart will be warmed like a big ‘ole cup of cocoa.

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