To those who gave us money or gift cards, both anonymously or known, THANK YOU. I’ve thanked you personally if I know you gave, but if you are sneakily giggling to yourself and rubbing your hands together like an evil genius at your secret good deed like I’d be, THANK YOU. I seriously look fondly towards a time when we can pay it forward.

To those who gave us food, THANK YOU. Not so much because we were struggling and hungry, but more because of the stress and having a meal prepared for you feels like the greatest gift in the world some weeks. I want to do this for others. We shouldn’t wait only for illness or new babies to share food within our community; look for those who are struggling, or maybe forget trying to find a reason. Take someone some food.

To those who watched our kids so we could take a financial class, or meet with our pastor or deacon recommended financial planner, THANK YOU. Back to the bringing food thing, this is part of our village that we love. You watched my kids, I’ve watched some of yours, we should all be doing it more often.

To those who treated my kids like the special little snowflakes they are, THANK YOU. You filled in the gaps where we were unable – with trips to the movies, or a gift card to splurge on birthday presents, or just a silly trinket that brightens their day when it unexpectedly arrives in the mail. All those little things that cause me to do mad amounts of math in my head wondering if we can splurge once on three movie tickets but only if we go to the early show and I pack snacks in my purse.

To those who gave hugs, passed the tissues, or made us laugh through our tears, THANK YOU. I know we wouldn’t have made it this far without you. I feel like we’ve broken through that invisible barrier in so many friendships and gone from just good buddies to FAMILY. And that’s huge.