We invite you to remember your loved ones who have died by committing an act of kindness in their honor. Love, kindness, generosity, sharing, these are the gifts we can give to them.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Kindnesses

From Stan:

I did do something, and though it did involve money, I think it was important and the right thing to do. For the past few weeks I have been reading almost daily in our local newspaper how food banks are in dire need of food to give to people requiring help. So on Monday, Dec. 22nd, I went to Sam's Club and bought $275 worth of food (flour, rice, pasta, canned meats, sugar, coffee, etc.) and delivered it to Martha for The Homeless. Martha is an elderly African-American woman who has been running a food bank out of her garage for several years - with the blessing of the City and State. I had called her the week before to see what she might need - and she gave me a list (long) of basic items. Well . . . I did the best I could and I know it was a help.

I decided that I really, really don't need to load up friends and neighbors with more material goods, not when there are people hungry for the basics. I also don't really need another sweater - a book, maybe, but sweaters and gadgets - no. It felt good to do this and next week I plan on going through our pantry and freezer and making another donation. I did not take a tax form from her - I don't itemize anyway - and this is not something I would deduct. It is NOT charity - it is concern for those around me who have a need I can do a little bit to assuage.

When you really get down to it, all we have is each other. Merry Christmas to ALL.

From Jessica G:

I had the chance to see something very beautiful a few days ago while out shopping for those last few gifts for Christmas this year. My dad and I were in the car on our way to Target. Traffic was ridiculous. All of a sudden, a truck broke down several cars in front of us and had the intersection completely blocked. I expected to hear a chorus of honking horns and angry shouts from the busy shoppers rushing to finish their errands, but instead, people came from all kinds of cars to help this elderly gentleman push his truck out of the intersection, into a gas station parking lot to get repaired. Even a homeless gentleman, sitting with a sign on the street corner, jumped up and ran to help out. It was a magical moment. It really exemplified the true Spirit of Christmas.

I pray you and your beautiful family have a wonderful Christmas with many more to come! Thank you very much for including me in your wonderful tradition! I know Theo's watching.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

~Merry and Peaceful Christmas Morning~

From Gemma:

My little act was something for my form group, 9 Fleet, at the inner city London secondary school where I work. They are generally quite difficult and pretty hard to handle as a group. I often have weary teachers knocking at my office door sharing tales of horror about what 9 Fleet did next! As a result I tend to shy away from events with them, nervous how they may behave. This year, however, I decided to throw them a Christmas Party dedicated to Theo. We had a great time. One of my main aims was to ensure that one particular student, who is often excluded and unpopular in the class, would be involved and stay for the whole party...and he did! I made a conscious effort to give him special responsibilities and have a chat. All the kids brought in something to share.....homemade cookies, Bangladeshi rice, Greek cookies and Pringles galore!

At the end of the party I made a little speech about what a great class 9 Fleet can be and that they all deserved a pat on the back. It was lovely and in our final assembly (straight after our sugar fueled party!) they were a real credit to themselves. Ultimately, it reminded me that whilst they drive me insane they are a fabulous bunch, all special in their own ways! The highlight of the party was a class song to the tune of Jingle Bells. Highly amusing. The lyrics escape me, but we all had a good laugh! I hope you have a lovely Christmas with your family.
All my love
Gemma D.

From Tadashi:

This Christmas I am committed to doing something I've never done before: I am going to make Christmas dinner for my family. When I'm living in Richmond and making my own meals my diet usually consists of cereal, canned tuna, deli-meat sandwiches and Shafer. Not exactly Christmas appropriate. I'm not sure if I am going to be capable of preparing the feast I have planned for tomorrow, but I'll definitely try my best.
I hope it turns out okay, but if it is a total disaster I assure you it was intended to be an act of kindness!

Merry Christmas guys, I hope you have a great one.

From Laura:

I think your idea for Theo is absolutely wonderful and I'm so happy to participate!
This year, I did something nice for my mom. Every year she spends hours and hours decorating the house, inside and out. She string the lights on the tree (her least favorite thing to do) and she puts up all the ornaments with little to no help. She makes the outside of our house look beautifully lit up, and makes sure to get the right gifts for everyone. What she is most proud of, however, is the small and often unnoticed decorations that are all over the inside. She hangs ornaments on our staircase and lets red ribbon cascade downwards beneath them. She sets up tiny nativity scenes in random places. She gets all the teddy bears (including my old beanie babies) from around the house in an arrangement near the presents under the tree. She sets up a winter scene including ribbons, candles and pine cones along our mantlepiece, and uses old christmas crafts made by my brother and I when we were little. My mom takes so much pride in the decorations to our house, so this year I decided to acknowledge them. I let her take me all around the house and show me every little thing she put up. Part of the time I was bored, but part of the time I was delighted, especially to see the crafts I had made when I was too young to remember and when Christmas was the most exciting thing to happen in my life. I was also very delighted to see how happy it made my mom for one person in the house to sit by our tree on Christmas eve and just look at it, just simply enjoy it. She just wants other people to enjoy the Christmas decorations, so this year I did. I decided not to just walk past them.

Consider my acknowledgment of my old pasta shell candle holders and glitter picture frames made in preschool an acknowledgement of Theo Fueglein. An acknowledgement of how lucky I am to have been able to make all those things as a kid and an acknowledgement of how much I wish he was able to make them too.

Have a very Merry Christmas Fueglein family, I hope Theo gets many stocking letters this year!

From Minh:

To the Fueglein family,
I know it is Christmas already but I still wanted to have the chance to share my good deed. It has taken along time for me to do something or even think of something good enough to write on a blog. Each day I would try and figure out what I was able to do to help someone, however, I felt like nothing was good enough. I wanted so badly to do something extraordinary to make a difference but it was much more difficult then I thought it was going to be. I finally realized I have been thinking to hard about it.

So I looked back on things I have done and there it was. Every Thursday around 4:00, I volunteer at the MCV hospital, in the pediatric emergency room. Being only a volunteer I wasn’t able to have as much hands on help as I had hoped to. My job was to give out books to the children while they were waiting or just simply organizing and filling the book shelves with new books. I felt it was a waste of time since I thought I didn’t have any effect on the children. But once seeing the happiness in them when receiving something as small as a book I feel relief and a feeling that I have done so much more than just read a children’s book. When reading a kid one of my favorite book as a child I can see the interest in their facial expressions. I can’t really explain the feeling but I like being able to interact with the kids and getting their mind off their illness. I am glad I have the opportunity of being able to volunteer in an environment such as the MCV hospital.

This is my good deed that I felt was good enough to be written down.
I hope the best wishes to you family!
Happy Holidays :)

From Ms. Sharma:

Dear Mrs. and Mr. Fueglein,
In the honor of baby Theo, I would like to say that it was a brilliant idea to design a blog for him. I feel it’s great that every dear one and friends that you know will be able to convey his or her regards for baby Theo. As a friend I would like convey my warmest regards and share the good deed I have during Christmas.

I volunteer at St Mary’s and throughout my volunteer experience I have realized a lot of things. One of the things I have felt or deeply realized is that not many people, whom we come across throughout the day, can celebrate Christmas as happily as we imagine everybody to celebrate. There are so many patients in this hospital who cannot be home with their loved ones during Christmas.

It is great to discharge patients right before Christmas and give them the chance to be with their dear ones and share happy moments together. As volunteer when I see a patient get discharged, or when new mothers go home with their new born baby, I feel as if a miracle has happened; a miracle in the sense that they were lucky to be home during Christmas.

I sincerely hope that this would make you all and baby Theo happy. Christmas is mostly about doing good things for others, and I wish I did something good during this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kindnesses for Christmas Eve

From Liz:

Hey there favorite family!

Since you started this tradition I have been conscious of random acts of kindness; this notion has become part of everyday life. Thank you for that. Theo's picture is still on my fireplace and I visit him often.

Today I raked leaves in our lawn and swept the walk. While I was at it, I did my neighbors' walks too. The exercise was good in the cold and now my one neighbor who has arthritis doesn't have to worry about it. That makes me happy. Your family makes me happy too.

Sending much love,

From Evy:

Hey Mr. F,
I had just bought a scarf from the store for myself for winter and as I was walking to get back on the metro I saw a man who was cold and very pale and had on these ripped pants and a worn out jacket with holes in his gloves. He was laying down with a pepsi cup next to him that had a couple of coins in it. So I walked over, took my scarf off, and gave it to him. He was so grateful for it.

I hope you that you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Mr. F.

Evy G.

From Pam and Dawn:

Jamie, Karla, & Lula,

I have been a witness to so many acts of kindness this season, and I always think of Little Theo. There is so much need in the world around us it seems overwhelming to figure out how to help sometimes.

I have a coworker who is a very dear friend of mine. Her 24 year old son has a condition called TTP, and she found out right before Thanksgiving that his kidneys have failed and that he will be a dailysis patient indefinitely. He lives in Memphis with his girlfriend and 4 month old baby boy. My friend really wanted to spend some time with her son and grandson over the Thanksgiving holiday, but finances were very tight and I could see that she was worrying about how to fund the trip.

The day before she was supposed to leave, I decided to ask a few of my co-workers if they'd like to chip in to help out with her gas money. Word began to spread around and people from all over our department started approaching me and contributing. In a little less than an hour, I had collected enough money to cover all of her travel expenses and her hotel room while she was in Memphis. I was so moved by the outpouring of concern and that people really wanted to make sure she was able to make this trip. When I gave her the envelope, she tearfully shared with me that she had been very troubled about how she was going to come up with the money to make the trip. She, her mother, and her younger son were able to spend 4 days with her son and his new family in Memphis and she was able to meet her grandson for the first time. She even had enough left over to purchase some items for the baby.

Dawn and I also participated in adopt a needy family again this year and will be making a donation to Noah's Children in honor of Theo.

Happy Holidays- we love you.

Pam and Dawn

From Andrea, Charles and Isabelle:

We love the idea of Theo's Christmas Stocking, what a wonderful tribute to your amazing boy. We decided to give a gift to our local animal shelter. We packed up a box of supplies for the animals in need. Since we lost 2 cats this year we had some extra things around the house, like toys and a lambswool blanket. Then we went to the store to buy cat & dog food and some other needed supplies. I donated this to the Richmond Animal League, and they were so appreciative. We also made a monetary donation. There are so many homeless cats & dogs in need of homes, especially now with the economy being so bad and donations being down.
Thank you for reminding us what is really important in life and inspiring others through Theo to make the world a better place.

Andrea, Charles, & Isabelle

From Helen Ruth:

Merry Christmas, Jamie, Karla and Lula,

Ah, so many common names here. My sister is Carla and my grandmother was Lula! AND Jamie is my beloved colleague! How much closer can I get to your family?

I confess, I don’t have any magnificent random acts to report but I do want to let you know that I applied for and received a grant from the United Methodist Thrift Shop Foundation in Durango, Colorado. The grant is now on its way to Southern Sudan where it will be used to build a shelter for some Sudanese Orphans who sell their crafts in the local market of the Kakuma Refugee camp. Instead of sitting out on the dusty streets, they will now have a nice shelter to house their items and to protect them from the elements. I probably won’t ever meet these children but maybe their young lives will be improved by this assistance.

Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year.

Helen Ruth

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still More...

I was wrapping up my Christmas shopping today, and when I went to check out the lady at the counter asked me if I wanted to donate a book to this Children's charity. I immediately thought of this, and took the opportunity. I was kind of excited about choosing the book, but it turns out that I just donated them some money and they choose the books, I guess. Hopefully they'll pick something good.
Merry Christmas

Dear Family,

While this is a small gesture, I wanted you to know that I have been thinking about the love you must still feel for the little one you lost. I lost my father almost 10 years ago (as of December 27, 2008), who was known for helping others. This act is so simple, yet so many times we can forget to allow it to work its magic. Today, I was in my car in a long line of cars waiting to mail Christmas cards. There was a small car that needed to get out of the parking lot, but could not reverse with the long line of cars that seemed to pass in such a rush. Seeing the small car, and thinking of your request, I waved the driver out so she could leave and allow another to park at the busy post office. Feeling proud, I wondered what else I could do as a random act of kindness.

But the kindness didn't stop there... just a short few moments later, as I finally pulled up to mail my cards, I saw something so heart warming. Out of the corner of my eye, that same driver in the small car was waving her hands to allow another driver to get in front of her so they could also leave that post office parking lot.

While these are such small gestures, it is clear, kindness is contagious. My hope is that my family will also commit to random acts of kindness.

After all, in our hearts, we have the potential to become weapons of mass affection.


Monday, December 22, 2008

More Acts Of Kindness

I sent a Holiday card to a man that lives alone in our neighborhood and does not have many friends or family. I hope that it brightens his day to know that a neighbor was thinking of him...

Another act of kindness was that together with friends we collected money to purchase gifts for a family so that they would have Christmas presents underneath their tree this year. They were very grateful and it was a gift to us to see how happy they were.

I will continue to spread the holiday cheer and kindness throughout the year in memory of your sweet son. Thank you for inspiring so many people to share love and support to one another.


This year my Husband and I will be cooking a full Christmas dinner for a local family we have come to know quite well. Last year this family lost their home to a house fire due to bad wiring and we found them a temporary place to stay while they found alternate housing. The local lady runs the town dump and her boyfriend is a local repair man and has worked on numerous houses of family and friends. When we found out this year that they were still struggling, we decided to volunteer to cook and deliver a ham and turkey with two pies, 5 sides and enough frozen meat to last an extra month in case of hard times during the rest of the year. We hope that through this effort we can make their holiday a little better, and perhaps the world a better place.

Amy and Victor

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gifts Multiplied

Jamie and Karla,

On Friday Dec. 19th I went with my brother and a friend to hear the Richmond Boys' Choir at St. Andrews Church. The "ticket" was a food donation to the Central Va. Foodbank. The boys' singing was wonderful, full of enthusiasm and heart.

Our bag of food was a small gift compared to the joy the boys gave to us, the audience.


First, let me say that I am so sorry to hear about Theo. I remember that your wife was expecting when I went to work in Petersburg, and I really didn't see you again except for that one time when I was visiting VCU, so let me say that I am very sorry for your loss, and I really respect what you are doing in Theo's memory and honor. You are first-class, all the way.

Now for my first (and hopefully not last) act of random kindness in Theo's name: Tonight, in line at the Walmart (a place I hate to be), I let a woman who thought she was in line, but wasn't, in the line ahead of me. At first, there was tension because she was obviously butting in front of me (I had witnesses who were ready to be outraged on my behalf--there was a fierce energy in the line!), but I thought of your email and Theo, and the season, and I thought that a couple of minutes in line wasn't worth the stress and anger. I ended up chatting with the woman; she was buying a gift for her 70 year old mother's birthday. She was very nice, and a lot of the stress I had been feeling (stress that was making me more likely to snap at people) melted away. It worked out that several of us in the line had a pleasant conversation--mostly about how we shouldn't be too hard on the slow cashier because we know Walmart doesn't treat its employees very well. The mood lightened for several of us, I think. A little thing, I know, but they add up. It was a good moment that was almost a bad one.

Thanks for putting this energy out, especially at this time of year.

Merry Christmas,

Jamie, Karla, and Lula,

In honor of loved ones, we have given gifts of baby chicks to Heifer International. I hope you all have a happy and restful holiday.

For Theo's stocking--

With thoughts of dear little Theo, we made a contribution to Church Hill Academy, a relatively new school in association with CHAT (Church Hill Activities and Tutoring). Both minister to neighborhood kids in numerous ways. Theo would love the kids at Church Hill Academy. They're full of energy and inquisitiveness and are just plain fun. Giving to them through time, interaction, and funds is a privilege.

This time, Theo, we did it with thoughts of you. Blessings upon you, little one.

Pat and Randy

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Acts of Kindness

From Peggy and Hank:

Dear Karla and Jamie,

It was so good to see you and Lula at the Angel of Hope service. With Theo in mind I bought and gave a book for grieving grandparents to a couple who have recently lost their teenage granddaughter to drug overdose. Thank you for the inspiration to reach out to others in need this holiday season.

May you enjoy the joys of the season, whatever they may be for you and your family.


From Angela and Mike:

For Theo this year, Mike and I were going to do our secret donation of a large tip to a waiter or waitress. However, at a faculty meeting this week, our principal shared that a school family was struggling financially and could use some help this Christmas getting items for their children.
The items included clothes, shoes, etc.

We decided to donate our money in Theo's honor to the family. My grade level added a certificate for the Mom and her daughter to get their nails done, too. They needed something FUN to do too! :-)

The Mom is a single mom who is battling cancer for the 2nd time. I have been worried about her daughter. There are many unanswered questions from everyone involved, and the Mom is worried this may be her last Christmas. She is such a strong, positive person, and I have enjoyed getting to know her.

Once again, I am reminded that our life pattern can be altered on a dime, and the only thing you can do sometimes is enjoy the moment.

Please keep this family in your prayers or meditation. I just hope that their day on Christmas is a peaceful one. I feel honored to have done my little part on Theo's behalf.Life is too precious and the moments too few.......have a wonderful day TODAY!

Love and Kisses...Angela and Mike

From Audrey:

I love this kindness project and it's so easy to participate.

I was moved today by 12 high school students standing outside in the cold playing their clarinets, trumpets, flutes and other band instruments outside the local grocery store. Their band director was shivering as he struggled to keep them playing, and the choir director was selling baked goods the students had made. I went to my car and dropped off the groceries, then walked back and gave them a few dollars with a "good luck." "Oh, take some cookies," the choral director says. "Here," I smile, "I don't need anything, just want to contribute."

You know I don't know if they were raising money for a trip or because of some new budget cut or worse loss of part of their program, but music is the thread that ties hearts together--and that's worth more than a couple bucks. At the time, I didn't think this was much, but for what it is, I'm happy to add this act of kindness in Theo's name.

Cait's mom

Friday, December 19, 2008

Newest Good Deeds

I want to start this off by saying that I think your idea for Theo's stocking is brilliant and totally beautiful. I'm sorry that you had to go through something so tragic. My thoughts and warm wishes are with you during this holiday season and I will be inspired forever by your completely creative and positive way of keeping Theo's memory alive.

Here's my good deed: I picked up a Salvation Army angel from the Christmas tree at the Willow Lawn Mall and got a few gifts for a child in need.

Thank you for including me.

Best Wishes & Happy Holidays,

Hi Jamie and Karla,
Yesterday, I got an angel from the angel tree at Capital One. It was one of many that hadn't been adopted this year. I bought an ipod and new clothes and school supplies for a teenage girl to receive this Christmas.

On Tuesday night, we participated in Caritas, serving dinner to 25 homeless families, and I was in charge of the craft activity. The kids and adults painted Christmas ornament balls and covered them with glitter. Seeing families who have no home certainly made me and Danny and even Christopher, I think, appreciate all that we have this year.

God bless Lula and both of you.

With love,
Michele, Danny, and Chrissy Robin

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Story of Daniel and Sean

Through Theo's Stocking, I recently reconnected with a woman I worked with a few years ago. She left our workplace before I was pregnant with Theo and a mutual friend forwarded her this year's Stocking Blog. She contacted me after learning of Theo and our story and told me the story of her two sons who died--years apart from one another. Little Daniel was born and died in 1993. Sean was killed by a drunk driver in 2005.

This is the story she shared with me:

Daniel lived a week at MCV. The first time I was well enough to hold him was three hours before he died. Never had I experienced the deep continuing scalding of mourning.....not even when my Daddy had died 5 years earlier.

Sean was 13 when Daniel was born and died. He was deeply affected by this event. This was before there were groups to help children dealing with death and loss, so I did my best. Even though I felt abandoned by God and very alone and angry about Daniel's dying when I knew in my soul that I was told he would live; I tried to speak words of Faith to Sean. Faith in the goodness and providence of the power of the Universal Truth. I call her "God". I kept telling Sean that if he wanted a relationship with his brother, that he had to be open to Daniel and also reach out to him.

Over the years, Sean talked to Daniel nearly every day. He asked Daniel to speak to him, intervene for him, and help him from the other side. All through college, even, Sean's letters speak of his talking to Daniel. Sean saw Daniel as his guide, protector, and mentor. They became very close.

On June 7, 2005, a 55 year old man with an open gallon of wine between his legs, crossed three lanes of traffic and crashed into Sean and his then six-year-old daughter, Emma. Sean was taking Emma to feed a friend's gerbil. They were about 8 blocks from home. Emma survived her physical injuries.

Sean lived for 11 days in the Neuro ICU at Wake Med. I lived in the ICU waiting room during that time. I could not leave Sean even though he was sedated and not fully conscious. Several late nights or very early mornings his nurse came to the waiting room to ask me to come sing to him. This seemed to calm him and get the blood pressure and ICP where it needed to be. I sang lullaby's and songs that he knew from his early childhood. As I sang, I visualized holding him and rocking him.

There were times when I felt he communicated with me: "I hurt", "I am so thirsty", "I am tired." After 11 days, Sean died of infection. How ironic that the wounds that seemed the threat, were healing and he died of infection. In this miracle age of medicine in one of the finest trauma facilities around, Sean died of infection.

I miss him all day every day, but the relationship he developed with Daniel and my surviving Daniel's death and what I learn and continue to learn from him, have been a comfort. We all feel their presence and know they are still a part of our journey.

It took me two years to hear the answer to my angry cries to "God." "You put in my heart and soul that my baby would live", I cried. Everything I had come to know and believe seemed destroyed. Finally, in the shower one day (there is something about water, isn't there?) I was doing my same crying and I finally heard God's answer: "Your son did live but you are not satisfied with his life. He lived 7 days. That is the time he needed to complete his mission. Your time is not My time."

With everything that happened with our family and what Sean's illness facilitated, I hear the same message. This time it is Sean's voice. "Mom I finally completed what I was sent to do."

Having had a death experience of my own when Daniel was delivered, I know we have much choice in whether or not we cross over. Sean chose to go. I have to give him the freedom to do that just as I had to give Daniel the freedom to leave and become more.

Nothing diminishes my sense of loss and wishing my boys back. My first-born son and my last-born son. It is hard to allow our children to choose their own time and place to evolve.

Maybe I have two sons on the other side because I have a hard time hearing and allowing my life to evolve without my having control. It is a hard position in which to find peace after living with an abusive husband.

The shoulder injury that I sustained while working evolved into nerve damage after surgery. The pain has been debilitating, and removed me further from having any control. I have to rely on much assistance. At the time I had surgery, I was moving to Rockville, VA from the Glen Allen area. I know this is all part of the plan for my life. I am surrounded by the beauty of this earth every day.

Know I love you and your beautiful family. All of you. What a power for good little Theo is.

I have made a donation to Comfort Zone Camp in memory of our boys.


Thank you Helen--your story touches me more than you can know.

Another Kindness

This one from Julie A.:

Karla, Jamie & Lula,

I am so glad to participate again this year. I think of Theo often during the year and know in my heart that I am a better person for having known him.

Participating in Theo's Christmas Stocking and honoring Theo's memory at Christmas always warms my heart. This year I decided to take it up a notch and I wanted to do something different. I had received something from Meals on Wheels where you could make a donation and decorate a paper place mat that would be delivered with a holiday meal. I made a donation and decorated the place mat. I colored the place mat in festive colors, drew wreaths, christmas trees and dedicated it to Theo's memory and of course, I had to draw a dragon fly on it. I hope it means a lot to the person who receives it this holiday season.

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season filled with love and peace.
Much love,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This Good Deed

---was done by Chante

So far this year I have been doing things that may qualify as good deeds. Ever since I can remember my mother and I have donated unwanted toys, clothing, movies, cds, and even furniture to the Salvation Army and Good Samaritan causes. I have been giving a lot of my stuff away since I entered college and do not really have a lot of room for things. This year alone we have filled more than ten bags. I've actually lost count! And we're still filling some bags currently! I think it is better to donate things to those less fortunate than to try to sell them over the internet for a profit. We have a bag full of coats and boots to donate to try to keep people warm this winter season. I have also donated to foundations like the Round up for Kids that JCPenney sometimes does. I have sent almost everyone I know and old friends from highschool Christmas cards. After Christmas my family is going up north to Michigan to visit my grandmother. Ever since my grandfather died a few years ago she has had trouble paying bills and has had her heat and electricity cut off and can barely afford food. We're bringing her and her dog food that should last her and my mom has been sending her money to pay for food and bills. She has been really depressed and I know that it will make her year to have visitors!

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to read all these 'letters' and to make us all realize what really matters during the holiday season, helping others and trying to make our world a better place!

---this good deed was submitted by Robyn

Jamie, Karla and little Lula,

I have been thinking about your little boy Theo quite a bit since I read about him, and his very important Christmas stocking, yesterday morning. In grief there are indeed opportunities to find something meaningful, something more than all of that other terribly dark and cloudy stuff. But it takes an immeasurable kind of strength to do that. Easier said than done, right? So I am in awe of you as a family...and you should be too!

My father committed suicide in September of last year. So of course I know that whole mess of grief far too well. The circumstances of his death couldn't be more different than your baby boy's. But I want to thank you for reminding me that life and death are tricky things that are hard to contain or understand. And most importantly, thank you for giving me the confidence to choose to keep my fathers presence around during the holidays. Not to keep quiet about him or to pretend everything is the same without him like I think people in life sometimes expect. I will actively think of my father and his life, not his death, because of what you have given me with your story about Theo.

As for my good deed...I went to The Salvation Army Angel Tree and I chose a little boy about your sons age at his last Christmas. I spent a very fun hour or so shopping for that little boy at Target and I spoiled him rotten because I figure all kids deserve that now and then. I thought about Theo and the child who will get those gifts under the tree and I felt pretty damn full of love. I hope you all get some of that love this year too because its wonderful.

Thank you again. Jamie, your writing class was just what I needed for my head to get straight. This made my heart feel better.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kindnesses Through the Week

I am thinking back over the week of all the small kindnesses I have seen, heard about, performed and received. I have been talking to my kids at work in our groups for the past several weeks about empathy and have tied in kindness for the past two. After several of them had difficulty last week coming up with ideas for how they could be kind to others, we played Kindness Bingo. As we played, they began talking about all the small things they remembered they had done to help others throughout the week:

W. earned donuts as an incentive for staying on target for his behavior all week and not only shared his donuts with the whole class, but brought in soda to share to go along with them.

L. was given cookies for her birthday last week and chose to share them with everyone in class.

C. gave his snack to a friend in class.

One of the class support staff shared that he pays the toll for the car behind him when he travels.

H. fixed the vacuum cleaner for his housemate and then vacuummed the room for him.

I. went to the store for her grandmother and also babysat for her neice and nephew while her sister went out with her friends.

M. is planning to give his entire paycheck from his part-time job to his mother because he knows that Christmas is hard on her and she has to get things for his little brother and sister.

D. held the door for someone

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond is currently sponsoring a food drive to benefit Richmond's Food Bank. All the state's food banks are in dire need of donations of money and food to keep their shelves stocked for those who do not have enough to eat. Donating non-perishables to one of the many food drives is a wonderful thing to do to help in our own community. Lula and I went to the grocery store to purchase some groceries to donate.

We have also continued our cookie giving project and gave a tin of cookies to the plumber who came to fix our kitchen sink which was clogged this week. Jamie took a tin of cookies to Red when he got his hair cut this week, and also to the Barking Lot when our Lhasa Apso Chloe got her hair cut.

In Costco this week, I struck up a conversation with a woman in line behind me. I noticed that she only had a few things in her basket and asked her to go ahead of me in line. She was very grateful and said that it would help her a lot as she was running late to see a friend. After we payed, I saw that it was pouring rain out and I had left the umbrella in the car. Four people offered to loan me theirs to get to the car, but I declined and decided to wait it out.
We went in to the snack area where Lula was happy to practice picking up and eating Cheerios. While she blinked at the O's sticking to her fingers and amused herself trying to get them into her mouth, an older couple sitting at the table next to us began smiling and laughing at her. It doesn't take much to get her attention and if she thinks she can entertain, she will gladly do so. They began talking and laughing with us and we all had a great time. The husband half of the couple remembered that he had his big golf umbrella at his feet and insisted on walking Lula and me out to the car. The umbrella was big enough to cover her in her car seat, me and him. He also helped me get the items into the trunk while the rain continued to pour, but none of us got wet! I wish I had asked their names, but I guess really, it doesn't matter. It was the kindness that mattered.

Just to share, here is the list of kindness suggestions included in my Kindness Bingo Game:

Bake cookies to share with a friend or neighbor

Be kind to the Earth—Turn off the lights when you leave a room

Give someone you love a hug

Call someone you have not talked to in a while just because

Leave a note for someone you love thanking them for being who they are

Send flowers to someone who touched your life in a positive way

Sit down to eat dinner with your whole family

Be kind to the Earth—Pick up trash when you see it

Give a thank you note to your teacher or support staff (or co-worker, supervisor, etc.)

Tell someone they look nice today (and mean it!)

Volunteer with a charity organization

Take a bag of canned goods to the food bank

Save up some money and give to a worthy cause

Make a family member’s favorite dinner tonight

Hold the door for someone

Offer to do a chore you don’t usually do

Lend a hand to someone you see struggling with a heavy load

Help someone with their bags at the grocery store

Donate a warm coat to Goodwill or Salvation Army

SMILE at 5 people today!

Anonymously Give a Gift

Ask someone how their day was and really listen

Run a race or walk a walk to fund research for a disease

Reach out to elderly or homebound people in your neighborhood

Personally thank someone who does things to keep your school (or workplace) nice

Be kind to the Earth—RECYCLE

Craft for a Cause—Knit or crochet a cap or blanket to donate to a PICU or NICU

Next time you are in a store, thank the person who rings you up and smile

Be kind to the Earth—RE-USE and RE-PURPOSE things instead of throwing them out

Tape the exact change for a drink or snack on a vending machine

Tell someone you are sorry for something you never apologized for

Look for opportunities to help others and then do it!

Volunteer to visit residents in nursing home

If you decide you don’t want something in a store, take it back to the shelf

Be kind to the Earth—Plant something

Make your favorite dessert and share it with someone

Let someone ahead of you in lineSpend some time playing with a child

Give someone the gift of your time

In the drive-thru or toll booth, pay for the person behind you

When someone you know looks upset, ask if they want to talk—and really listen

Next time you ask, “How are you?” Wait to find out how they really are

Write a letter to a friend to tell how they touch your life

Sincerely thank the person who cooks your next meal

Leave chocolate on the desks of your classmates(or co-workers)—Anonymously

Help your parent, spouse, partner, roomate, etc., with something they wouldn’t expect you to

Always say please, thank you and you’re welcome…with a smile

When it is raining, share your umbrella with someone who doesn’t have one

Think of 3 things you are truly grateful for focus on that feeling

Another Anonymous Good Deed Doer

I wanted to share this kind person's comment on the recent post "Anonymous Good Deeds". Thank you, Anonymous, for sharing your thoughts and your wonderful acts of kindness this season. I also want to thank you for sharing your experience of losing your child with us. Please never discount your pain and grief over losing your baby. Your child is your child and will always be in your heart. My thoughts are with you, wherever and whoever you are. Thank you--

From Anonymous:

Thank you for sharing Theo's story with us! My daughter shared it with us, and it really hit home. We are now blessed with five grandchildren; two teens and three small ones (20 mths, and two newborns), but I too know the grief of losing a child even though I never held it in my arms. I felt that child move, but never got to meet him. How much more to hold your baby and have to let go! At this season, your sacrifice brings to mind the greatest sacrifice for us in giving up a son. Jesus. What an 'act of kindness" and love this was!

There are many times in my daily life, that instances occur allowing me to commit these acts of kindness but I don't really think about them in that way. Thank you for making me feel better about what I take for granted as something I need to do.

For Christmas this year I was able to:
#1 - Gift someone with a large Pooh that had been "living" at my house for several months. They were not able to buy something like this for their baby (9Mo), but his first word was "Pooh" and the gift was appropriate. They were delighted!
#2 - Purchase a gift for a child thru the AngelTree Ministry which helps incarcerated prisoners provide a gift for their children.
#3 - Purchase gifts for young men in a drug and alcohol program that aren't able to make it home for the holidays.

As a final thought, there is a new movie that coming out "Seven Pounds" starring Will Smith, that takes on this topic of random acts of kindness. Smith was quoted as saying he hadn't realized how out of touch with "every day things" he had become in his life until it was brought to his attention by his child. It is so fitting that it only takes a child to draw our attention to what is important!

Thank you for sharing, and taking the time to listen to all of us!

Anonymous Good Deeds

For Theo I gave two sacks of food to the local food bank, which is running out of food.

I picked up trash from the street even though people looked at me all funny.

Today I gave my last ten dollars to a family who had less than ten dollars.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Kindness of Remembrance

This past weekend, we went to Hollywood Cemetery, an historic cemetery in Richmond, to take part in a Remembrance Ceremony at the Angel of Hope statue.

The statue was conceived by author Richard Paul Evans in his book The Christmas Box. Replicas of her stand in several cities across the country as memorials to children who have died.

The statue at Hollywood Cemetery came to being as a result of the tireless work of Ty Johnson and his wife Andrea whose 8 month old daughter Reagan Makenna died on March 6, 2004 of Shaken Baby Syndrome at the hands of her babysitter. In looking around the internet for an angel memorial stone for his daughter, Ty found the image of the Angel of Hope. The image of the statue stayed with him and after researching the Angel, he contacted Richmond's SCAN--Stop Child Abuse Now--to get help in his efforts to bring a statue to our community. You can read an article published last year about the Johnsons at this link to Richmond.com.

The Angel was dedicated just before Mother's Day, 2006. We were present for that dedication ceremony where we met the Johnsons. Since then, we have visited the Angel many times. Theo is buried 6 hours away from us, in my family's cemetery--a beautiful spot in Wise County on a beautiful mountaintop, and I am comfortable knowing he is buried with family--but it can be difficult not being able to just go to his grave whenever I feel the need. Having the Angel nearby has helped immensely. We visit the Angel statue regularly. In the picture above, you can see the dragonfly stone I painted for Theo in her hand. When we go, there are always other trinkets and notes from other families who visit the statue in memory of their children who have died.

Ty and Andrea have made possible a beautiful memorial not only to sweet Reagan's life, but to all children who have died, and have created in their act of kindness a place for all families to go to honor their children. Each December 6th, the Remembrance Ceremony is held at Angel of Hope statues all over the country. We gather together and speak the names of our children, hug one another, cry together and know that we are not alone in our grief and pain.

Thank you Ty and Andrea for making the Angel of Hope a reality in our community. Your Act of Kindness has done so much to help me and Jamie and, I know, so very many others as well.

--This good deed

...is from Trent
This past week at the cafeteria I saw someone drop a $100 bill. The man didn't even realize it had fell out of his hand. I picked it up and gave it to him. This act of kindness is donated to baby Theo.

...was performed and submitted by Kevin.
I was spending time with my best friend of many years, just relaxing and watching t.v. It soon became apparent to me that my dear friend was in pain, having been suffering from a bladder infection and running a fever for a few days. I quickly jumped to her concern and asked her if she had taken her medicine for the day, and she informed me that she had not, and that the bottle of her pills was in her car, parked some ten blocks away. I immediately offered to go and get it for her, but she strongly refused, insisting that she was fine and that it was too far for me to walk. I settled down, offering her a drink and trying to comfort her. I waited for her to fall asleep, and as she did, I lifted her feet off of my lap, quietly grabbed her keys, and left the room. I walked outside, the time now nearing 2 am in the morning, and the temperature close to freezing. In order to save time, I did not make a trip back to my place, thus leaving me without much to wear for warmth, just a tee shirt and a light jacket. I walked the ten blocks and retrieved the medicine, and as i was on my way back i remembered my friend's almost inability to swallow pills. Usually, some milk and crackers helped wash down the pill and ease her stomach. The nearest 7-Eleven was several blocks out of the way, but I braved the journey none the less. As I returned to her room, almost forty five minutes later and very cold, I awoke her and brought her the bottle and food. She was very tired and entirely unaware of what was going on. She took the medicine, ate a few crackers washed down by milk, and instantly fell back asleep, looking much better than a few hours prior. I kissed her gently of the forehead and let myself out. Being the deep sleeper that she is, I don't think my friend has any recollection of what happened, but I rest easier each time I think of that night, knowing I did my best to ease the pains of my best friend, my satisfaction lying not in recognition, but in the warm smile I see each time we meet.

---this is from Megan
As my good deed, I have introduced many of my friends to my student organization, Chi Alpha. I feel that this is a great deed because most college students do not have a relationship with God, and personally, I believe that it is very important to have a close relationship. My friends have enjoyed coming to Chi Alpha, and I am very blessed that I had the courage to share God with them.
Have a happy holiday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Filling the Stocking has begun!

We have begun to receive responses from friends and family and have begun our own filling of Theo's stocking.

We baked cookies all this past Sunday morning and packed them up in tins to take to the staff at VCU's PICU to say thank you to the nurses and staff and let them know how often we still think of them and their amazing work, to try to convey our deep gratitude for how wonderful they were to our sweet boy. The nurses in the VCU/MCV PICU not only do their difficult jobs incredibly well, but are so full of love and compassion. I know they genuinely loved Theo and many of them spent extra time with him in his room, holding him, talking to him. We will never forget their kindness to him and to us.

We got to see one of our favorite nurses, Judy, and she was thrilled to meet Lula. She remembers Theo well and took our gifts of cookies and donuts to share with the rest of the staff. We also got an update on how all our other nurses are doing. It was difficult to go into the PICU, as it has been every time we have gone back, but we feel that it is important to let those wonderful people know that their work does continue to touch the families they work with, long after the children they served have left the PICU.

We also took some cookies to our friend Amy who recently had a baby girl--Welcome to the world little Abby Sue! We took extra so that she could share them with her nurses and visitors or save them all for herself and her husband John.

Other things we have done this week:

The counselors at my workplace adopted an angel from the Angel Tree--a ten year old girl named Joy. We are all contributing to her Christmas gifts.

Our friend Nicole along with two of her friends puts together a wonderful project called The Mother's Gift Circle. They gather donated gifts and wrappings of new and gently used baby items and then get together to make gift bags and packages to deliver to Richmond's Public Health Department. The Dept. runs a program for pregnant teens that focuses on prenatal health care and parenting skills. It has amazing success at keeping the girls in school and at preventing second pregnancies. The gifts are used as incentives to keep the girls in the program and are often the only celebratory elements of the pregnancy.

We have been carefully saving all our gift bags from presents we received for Lula since our baby shower in April as well as collecting items to give. We also added some items that belonged to Theo we never used including a beautiful quilt and several other "boy items". This morning Jamie took a car load of gift wrappings, baby clothes, shoes, blankets and other items to donate to this wonderful organization. Please feel free to email me if you would like more information.

Kindnesses I have received from others this week:

Received 12/1/08
Karla, Jamie and Lula,

Being that I have Theo's picture on a slide show on my desktop, I am reminded of him everyday.
For some reason, I'm always doing something to help folks out. Just this past two weeks, I've picked up trash in the neighborhood, given away non-perishable food items to folks that neededit, gave away clothes to folks that needed and recently bought gifts for two Angels from the Angel Tree.

Today, two of my co-workers and I donated 40 hours of Leave Time to another co-worker whose father is ill and in the hospital. She needed to go to Tennessee to be with him and didn't have the leave time.

I donate this last act of kindness to baby Theo.

Received 12/2/08
Dear Karla, Jamie and family,

I feel so lucky to have the children I do. They are so giving, loving, caring, understanding, grateful, etc. and their arms are always open to everyone in need. I couldn't have ask for any better.

I too lost a child--before birth--which I think about often, especially in October when the child was to be born. The loss was at 5 months. I never thought to have anyone expressing that loss with me so I only have the loss within myself.

Knowing you and your family and how you have kept your memories and love alive with others really makes me think and wish that I would have done more to express my feelings of my child even though my child was unborn, it was my child. Of course, this was many years ago, the child would have been 23 now, but I still think about the love I felt. We never even agreed on a name. We didn't even know if he was a he or a she actually.

I like to do things to help others when ever I can just because I know that I have been so lucky to have the most wonderful, beautiful amazing, girls ever and I have the privilege knowing such wonderful people like yourselves that make life worth living.

May God bless and you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year!


Dear M.,
I am honored to share about your baby's life here. I am so sorry that your precious child died and want you to know that I am glad that Theo's life can help you to honor and remember your own baby. No matter how young or old, when our children die, our hearts are left wounded. The wound may heal, but leaves its imprint behind. Sharing your story and that of your baby's life and death is a kindness in itself, as it helps you to heal as well as helps others to better understand how deeply the lives of our children who have died continue to touch us. I hope you will continue to find ways to honor the life of your child and the ways that your life has been touched by that little soul. Thank you.
Sending love and hugs to you---

Monday, December 1, 2008

Open Invitation--Please Read!

This Christmas will be our third Christmas without our beautiful boy, Theo.

This Christmas, were he here, he would be 3 years and 8 months old. Our son, our first born child, was the bravest and sweetest boy. Everyone who knew him, who saw him, who spent time with him, knew how special he was. Many people who did not know him, who never met him, also know and have been deeply touched by his life.

Thelonius Luther Helbert Fueglein died on February 20, 2006 at nine months old. Theo was diagnosed at 3 months old with a brain tumor, a choroid plexus carcinoma. A very rare and deadly brain tumor. From the moment he went in to surgery, 2 days after be became sick, I kept a record of his life, his illness, his treatment, his death, his story, in a blog at http://www.babythelonius.blogspot.com/ Please feel free to go there anytime to read his story.

I wanted to create this new blog specifically for a very special project we call Theo's Christmas Stocking.

Holidays are very difficult after your child has died.

That sentence is an understatement and sounds almost ridiculously simplistic when held next to the actuality of the deep pain of living through holidays, birthdays, ordinary days, without your child. It is difficult to describe the depth of feeling, the depth of the pain, the weight of their absence. I must say in my experience, the first year following the death of my son was, as bereaved are told to expect, the "worst"—as in, "the first year is the worst". And it is true in many ways. After the first year, things do change. The pain is not as raw, not as omnipresent, it changes, but it is still there. It finds ways of sneaking up on you. Hitting at times when you don't expect it and hovering over everything at those times when you do expect it—like the holidays. The pain never really goes away, but it is true that after that first year, it seems somehow easier, more plausible, that we can and do find better ways to manage it. Better and more effective ways of living a productive life without breaking down every time we think of the fact that we are living our lives day after day and year after year without our precious child here with us in this world. It does seem that, after that first year, the possibility of living a productive and, yes, even a happy life while our child is dead, does become more feasible.

But it's still awful. It never stops being awful and unfair and deeply, deeply painful.

I am trying not to turn this space into a discourse on how finding the right support, having space and time to grieve, getting help if you need it if your life isn't so productive, and so many other things, are the right and helpful things to do if you are bereaved--even though those things are all very important and a lot of my thoughts and energies are focused in those directions since Theo has died. But I don't really want that to be the main focus here.

My reason for creating this blog is purely to share our Christmas Wish.

The first Christmas after Theo died, 2006, I decided initially that I was not going to have Christmas. I did not feel celebratory; I did not want to have the holiday without my baby. But we had moved into a new house, we were planning to stay home instead of traveling to family celebrations—which I knew that I could not face. And so I decided to decorate the tree and the house as if he were here, to honor him and also to have something to focus my energies on. When I opened the box with Theo's stocking inside—a sweet little felt stocking, made by Theo's great-grandmother—and hung it by the chimney with care, I was struck by what that one small act really meant. In hanging the stocking, I was acknowledging our son's presence in our lives and honoring him as our child, but realized at the same time, that on Christmas morning there would be nothing in his stocking.

The image in my mind of the stocking hanging, flat and empty was so painful. And I did not want to put gifts in the stocking, candies, toys or other stuffers, which we would then open "for him". Imagining that scenario felt pitiful and hurtful. I did not know what to do. I just sat and looked at the stocking. I knew I could not take it down. It was Theo's. I would never, and will never, do anything to remove his memory, his presence, his place in our family, from our lives. But the empty stocking seemed a terribly looming symbol for everything we were missing.

And then I had an idea.

Smiling, I raced upstairs to the computer and sent out an email asking our family and friends for help. This is mail I sent:

Dear Friends,

Sorry this is kind of late--I just thought of it. We have a stocking hung for Theo (made by his great-grandmother, Jamie's grandmother) with a pretty dragonfly pin on it. I got really sad thinking that there will be nothing to put into his stocking for Christmas. And all of a sudden I thought of something really nice that all of you could do to help give Theo a present. And to help us feel a little better on Christmas. Sometime between now and Christmas, do something nice for someone, no matter how small or large, it doesn't have to involve money--just commit a random act of kindness. When you do it, think of Theo and dedicate that act to him and his sweet spirit. Please write it down and send it to me through e-mail. I won't read it. I will print it out and put it in his stocking and then on Christmas morning, we will open up all the notes and read them. If even only a few of you do this, we will have a really beautiful thing to share on Christmas in our sweet baby's memory and someone else (the recipient of your kindness) will benefit by a true example of the spirit of Christmas. I will pray that all of us will be struck by inspiration, that something will come to each of us, some kindness that we can share of ourselves, in Theo's name and in his memory, to benefit someone else. Thank you so much for your participation and your continued love and support,
Karla and Jamie

We received more emails that I ever imagined we would. People forwarded it on to others and I started getting mails in my inbox from people I didn't even know, from all over the country and from 3 other countries as well. It meant so much to us. We continued the tradition the following year, 2007, as well.

We want to make Theo's Stocking a tradition each year to celebrate the life and the continuing presence of our sweet boy in not only our lives, but others' lives as well. I know that his spirit and beauty touched more people than I will ever know and in continuing this tradition, he will continue to do so.

This year, it feels a little different. It isn't as important to me to have the acts of kindness done so that I will have something in his stocking, a tangible something to take the place of gifts he is not physically here to open. It is, I suppose, part of the way grief changes over time. I don't seem to need that physical act for myself anymore.

Instead, the act of continuing this tradition serves to remind and assure me that other people are thinking of him and remembering him, the two most important things to a parent who has lost a child. But even more than that, is the knowledge that the love, strength, beauty and goodness that he radiated will continue to touch other people, that it will continue to spread like waves of light into the Universe through simple acts of kindness that we will choose to perform for no other reason than to help another person. And that is, of course, the true meaning of Christmas. It doesn't mean we have to spend a lot of money—not many people have a lot of extra money to spend anyway this year. It doesn't mean extravagance and isn't about feeling pressured to "do something". It can mean letting an extra car out in traffic—even when you are running late, it can mean holding open the elevator door for the person running to make it, taking the extra few minutes to really hear your co-worker's response to the routine "how are you?" It can be taking a bag of canned goods, even from your own pantry, to your community's Food Bank. I can mean giving your time to your church or volunteering for other charity—they are all in dire need right now.

We are all in need. When we find ourselves in times like these, times when we may feel frightened or bogged down in self-centered worries, the spirit of giving can truly provide, even if only for a moment, a respite from our own troubles, from our own anxieties and fears. For that brief moment we can be filled with that warmth of human kindness which is magnified by the act of giving of ourselves to others. If you try it, you will see.

This year it seems of particular importance too, not just for the very good reason of remembering and honoring Theo, but to share his legacy with his little sister.

Our beautiful daughter Lula was born this year and will grow up knowing she has a brother and knowing how very special her brother was and still is. In continuing this special tradition of Theo's Stocking, we can teach her not only about giving to others, but also have another opportunity to share with her about her brother; how his spirit continues to touch, teach and inspire others—including not only his parents, but so many, many others.

We invite you to participate in filling Theo's stocking again this year. We invite you to pass this forward, not only in your acts of kindness, but to others so they may have the opportunity to know of Theo and choose to participate, joining in to continue to spread the spirit of love and compassion through adding their own acts of kindness.

So, as I have asked the two previous years:

Sometime between now and Christmas, do something nice for someone, no matter how small or large, it doesn't have to involve money--just commit a random act of kindness. When you do it, think of Theo and dedicate that act to him and his sweet spirit.

Please write it down and send it to me through e-mail at my home address or to babythelonius@yahoo.com set up just for Theo mail.

This year, instead of printing them out and putting them physically into his stocking--which will still be hung--I will post them here on this blog as they are sent in so that we can all read and share in the kindnesses committed by others for this very special purpose.

We will make the pledge to post several times weekly the daily kindnesses that we will
commit, so that we can share with you throughout this holiday season. Please check back frequently to read about the acts of kindness being performed by all who participate.

We wish a warm and safe and peaceful holiday to you all—Thank you so much for your love and support.

To inspire, and if you have the time to read on, here are some of the previous acts of kindness done in Theo's honor from the past two holidays, Christmas 2006 and 2007:

For my gift to your family I chose to babysit for a mom with 6 kids so that she could Christmas shop peacefully and enjoy the alone time. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

#1--I offered my car for jump-starting a beleaguered truck (even though I was already running late getting out of town). Sadly, the jump didn't actually start the truck--but at least it helped diagnose the problem!
#2--Margie and I shared our Jelly Bellies with a store clerk--he was delighted.
#3--We donated the book, "Corduroy," to the children's wing at a local hospital--a childhood favorite of mine that my mom always kept in her collection for teaching first-graders how to read.

Dear Theo, Tonight my wife and I performed a Buddhist practice called Shower of Blessings an d I thought of you and your parents, with love and all warm feelings.... Compassion is forever, and love is forever, and therefore you are forever.

Dear Theo,
I thought and thought about what to do for you. I wanted to do something that would directly help another child in need. Then one day I was reading Sports Illustrated (I am a closet sports fan) and saw a beautiful article about the Nothing But Nets program. It was started by a sports writer who heard about all of the children in Africa dying of malaria. He cleverly brought awareness to the cause by inferring that most sports are played with nets, but who knew that nets could also save lives? Thousands of children have benefited from having mosquito nets placed over their beds to prevent the spreading of malaria. Since we know that two nets will be sent in your honor, we can only hope that they will help protect small children who would otherwise be vulnerable to disease. I hope that your mommy and daddy find some comfort in knowing this.

Dear Karla and Jamie,
I have visited an old person's home and given a Christmas card to all the residents, along with a Santa pillow to go on their couch. How lovely that your beautiful baby has engendered so many warm acts and the spreading of loving care.

Hi Karla and Jamie,
This is such a good idea- you're the best!! We are participating in the United Christmas Donor Program, which is operated by the United Way of Central Indiana. Caseworkers from various agencies in central Indiana have referred the families with the greatest need to the Donor Program to receive holiday assistance. We were assigned a single mother with 5 kids, ranging in age from 4-14. Their mother lost her job in 2006 and they have had a difficult time. They lost their home and don't have a running vehicle. They have secured housing and our friend is working with their caseworker to try and find them transportation or get their vehicle repaired. The family provided a wish list and we were able to get almost everything on the list. We found out yesterday that they don't have a Christmas tree, so right now, our friends are helping with getting together decorations and a tree to deliver to them tomorrow with their gifts.

In honor of Theo, I have purchased a dragonfly ornament for their Christmas tree.

Dear Karla,
My friend and I did something we called "guerrilla love," in which we wrote down on pieces of scrap of paper the words "you are beautiful." The papers looked like someone had to write something in a hurry and was using whatever was at hand. We each took ten of these and secretly put them out into the world: on windshields, in tip jars, in bike helmets hung on locked bikes.... Our idea was that someone would come back to that spot and have the experience that the message was written just for them (which of course it was, we just didn't know who "they" were). An anonymous note saying "you are beautiful," a message from someone out there, it can make a person's whole day, or at least that's what we told each other when we thought it up. We found the feeling of spreading that kind of joy and reassurance is infectious and wonderful!
So, in honor of Theo's bright spirit, with the love that surrounds him in mind, I repeated the "guerrilla love" tactic and passed out ten messages anonymously to ten people with the words, "you are beautiful" over the course of the day.

Thank you, Theo, for reminding me of how good that feels.

Karla and Jamie,
I was at the CVS the other night and found myself helping an elderly man to his car with his bags. As I did, your email asking us to think of Theo came right to mind. As I walked to my car from his, I remembered the times I spent with Theo. Although they were brief, they touched me.

I am here in the office today passing out gifts and am thinking of Theo, you, and Jamie with lots of love. I expressed your request to some of my friends and they said that they would, during this season,think of everyone who has lost someone, particularly those who have lost children. I hope these simple acts of kindness and reflection, in Theo's name,brings you some peace and warmth during this season. Theo is loved.

Dear Karla,
Last Friday, I had an overwhelming feeling about my husband's grandmother. She has been bedridden with Alzheimer's and its effects. I called my husband and told him he needed to see her. That same day, she had slipped into a coma. She passed away Monday. My husband's Mom and I have never really been close, and it has always been a strained relationship for a variety of reasons. When she called about her own mother, I felt awful. I thought, I really should do something for her. But then my mind rolled back to the number of times that I had been disappointed by her, and her lack of support toward me during recent deaths in my family. I let it get the best of me and I thought...no, I don't want to help her out. But then your sweet angel's face and name came into my mind. I decided that I should do something because it is the right thing to do, and I would let him be my guide to help her out. I have talked to her daily about what she needs. I have made her chicken noodle soup, and delivered it to her.

It is bittersweet to me that I needed a tiny baby to remind me of what was right...and to take the high road. I also thought that maybe she needs guidance in how to help family members in troubling times. I can help her do that with Theo on my mind and heart. This may not seem earth-shattering, or even significant to you. But I want you to know that Theo helped me build a bridge of forgiveness with my mother-in-law. I will be forever grateful. Who knows where it will lead us, but I know that I made a good decision and helped someone in need in honor of Theo.

Dear Sweet Baby Theo,
We tried to think of something to do in your honor, something special. We know the holidays are hard for lots of families that don't have a lot but also so many animals that don't have families or nice places to live or anything to eat. So we bought a BIG bag of dog food to take to the Richmond SPCA in your honor. We placed it under their tree and said a prayer of gratitude and sent you a kiss to the stars. We look for you on dragonfly wings, we know you are not physically here but your spirit is EVERYWHERE. We love you baby.

Dear Jamie and Karla,
Well, I have to say your email resulted in me reflecting quite a bit on how much kindness I offer to the world and whether I'm making any difference that matters. I've been obsessing on it a little, to tell the truth, but I think this a good thing given that it's Christmas. What better time? Let's get back to that issue shortly. For now, though…My wife and I were talking (not so much about giving, but about other events in our life) and she told me that there's this old woman in a wheelchair who comes into the Starbucks she manages, and that she's always appalled to see people pretending the woman's not there. They don't hold the door, blow past her, all that. My wife not only makes her drink but takes the time to deliver it, makes sure she has a sip, and wipes her mouth with a napkin if need be. Am I doing anything like that on any regular basis?

My wife and daughter volunteered their time to Christmas wrap boxes for Meals On Wheels. I was home with our baby son feeling that was good enough at the time, but now realize I should have been there too. Sure, more than likely, we would have been chasing the baby all over the room, but at least I might have wrapped one box…So, we return to the issue I mentioned at the start. What the heck have I done lately to make anyone's life better? Probably not that much, really. And for the past few days I've kept looking around to see if I could do something, half-hoping a puppy would run out onto the road for me to save, or something along those lines. That didn't happen, so I got to thinking and this is what I managed to come up with for this year:

I did take the time the other day to ask the guy working the cash register at Sheetz if all the ringing of the kitchen timers made his ears hurt at night when he went home. He told me it used to bother his sleep at first, but he's gotten used to it. I told him I used to be a bartender, and after busy nights back then my dreams were often interrupted by people popping into my mind to ask for a drink. I learned he wants to be bartender when he's old enough.

Along the same lines, at Ukrops not too long ago, I learned that the old lady slicing my turkey has lived in Virginia her entire life and she bought a house on the water thirty years ago. Something I don't imagine we'll ever be able to afford, and I told her so. Suddenly, she was rich and I was poor. That felt good, all things considered at the time.

I became friends this year with a woman at work whose husband died this time last year. I'd pretty much bypassed her before, but I ended up getting to know one of the nicest people imaginable. She ended up giving me her husband’s coats because she didn't want to see them go off to Good Will anonymously, and I wear them proudly (they are truly beautiful coats).

Lastly, the other day, the guy next to me in a public restroom was having a bit of difficulty getting started, so I kept flushing my urinal and whistling until he was fine and things were flowing. Hey, you do what you can, right? Tomorrow, though, I'll see if I can do more. Thanks, mostly, to your note.

I don't have to worry about those around me contributing. Evidently, they've been light years ahead of me the entire time. Clearly, I'm not the champion of this story, but the one who has much to learn. I have no doubt that those around me are also doing the small stuff too, and not even thinking about it either way, before or after. They're just more advanced than I am. Another chance to learn. I hope this letter is worthy of being in Theo's stocking, and that the two of you enjoy reading it on Christmas morning. By the way, we passed your email onto others, so you may be hearing from people you don't know at all. Hope that's okay. Such a wonderful (perfect, really) idea.

Dear Mr. F and Family,
After class on Thursday I couldn't get what you said and what you had asked of us out of my head. So the other day at the super market I was getting a Christmas bag for my mother and as I walked out this elderly woman was struggling to push her grocery cart to her car. So I offered to help and unloaded the groceries into her car. I hope that I can add to the many gifts that you will receive this Christmas. May god bless you all and may you have a wonderful Christmas filled with happiness and Love.

Dear Jamie and Karla,
We thought of Theo lat night when my family went caroling around my brother's neighborhood. The joy that music brings and the tradition of sharing happiness with others at the holidays reminds us that gifts need not be tangible in order to be deeply felt and meaningful.We wish you much joy and peace at the turn of the new year.

I am sending this much later than I intended to and hope that it's not too late to include in Theo's stocking. In honor of Theo and our loved ones, we donated three flocks of chicken and a goat from Heifer International.

Dear Jamie,
I'm almost late with this. But I was telling my boys about the story you told us: how you have the kindness stories emailed to you and put them in Theo's stocking and read them Christmas morning, and then I told them my story I had planned to send you (but got too busy to send), and they insisted: do it now, at 11:15 on Christmas eve, send it now. So before we read The Polar Express, like we do every Christmas eve, I'm sending this out to you -- hopeful you or your wife will be up late and will get it before tomorrow morning and it will find its way into that stocking with the other stories: our collective love of your baby son.

I was in Costco printing pictures. Only one machine worked; the other was broken, and a long line of disgruntled, impatient needing-pictures-for-Christmas-immediately people stood behind me. Directly behind me was an elderly man, kind of chubby, wearing overalls. He heard the grumbles of the woman behind him, how I was taking too long, how she didn't expect to spend all afternoon in line at the picture machine in Costco. He cajoled her and smiled and reminded her that this was the season, and hey, at least she had her health. Finally, I was finished. I looked back at him and apologized. He said, "I have never used this machine." He looked kind of hesitantly at the long line of unhappy people behind him. "I'll show you," I said. And so there it was: he and I, downloading his hundred or so pictures, and he had to stop at many of them to tell me who everyone was: "That's my granddaughter Marylee" he said. And another of Marylee. And another. He chuckled and shared stories and those people behind him complained and glared and talked impatiently among themselves. And we didn't care. And I felt the best feeling: that feeling of helping out this man who was so joyous about his granddaughter, a feeling of stopping the frantic rush of Christmas to simply share a moment with a man I didn't know.It was good. And I thought of your baby. How he'd want to hear those stories about Marylee too.

Dear Jamie and Karla,
This weekend, we stopped traffic in Arlington to dig through our purses and find money for a woman who held up a sign: "homeless artist." She had that dizzy kind of blonde hair that I love, and wore this black coat with a matted fur collar, and horns were blaring and the woman ran to our car, babbling her thanks, and we were digging like crazy to find any bills we could, as cars made their way around us and the crazy world went on.All the good things we do, are done with the backdrop of the frenzy of this season. Thank you for reminding me to do good things. Thank you for the opportunity to share them with you and remember your special boy.

Dear Mr. Fueglein,
The last day of class really made me think of the importance of family. My act of kindness was simply to spend some time with my mother, which I do not do as often as I should. She leaves for Japan on the 29th, and I made sure we spent a lot of time together before she leaves. Thank you—and Theo—for everything you've taught us this semester. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Hi Jamie,
You, your wife and your son Theo have been on my heart ever since you shared the letter your wife wrote last Christmas. I hope this email finds you both filled with peace as you celebrate your son in such a beautiful way. Your request, in honor of Theo, made me much more aware of my interaction and treatment of others. I hope I will continue to live in a kind of way that will honor Theo. I am grateful that you shared with us all your request. It really touched me in many ways. The things I did were by no means huge, but I think the message you conveyed put it best. It is the simple things that make the most difference.

For me they were patience and thinking of others needs: When wanting to get home after a long evening I let other cars go ahead of me and was actually happy to do so even though I was so tired. After I was cleaning all day, my husband was fixing a door and made a mess with wood shavings all over a freshly vacuumed floor, and instead of being critical I related to his frustration that the simple project had turned into this huge ordeal and he was frustrated. I was thankful of his work and tried to understand where he was. We were both trying hard to get ready in a short time for guests and doing this project was not in the plan but had to get done for the door to fit in place. Those are two things that come to mind - I hope that there have been more ways in which I was able to honor Theo and your family I wish you a blessed Christmas!

This is such a small thing, but its fresh in my mind because it happenned today. I was late as usual mailing my Christmas cards and packages so there I was standing in the postoffice line in the few seconds I had to spare before Zach gets off the bus in between seeing pts. (That had to be a run-on sentence-sorry Jamie). Anyway, the lady behind me had 2 small children with her, one of which was in her arms and in desperate need of a nap. She only needed stamps. When my turn finally came, I knew I could wait a few more seconds, no matter what else was on my agenda. I motioned for her to go ahead of me and she was very appreciative. It was a little thing but I've been there before in her situation and knew it would make a difference to her. Have a wonderful Christmas. I think of you all of the time and Theo's stocking is a wonderful idea.

Please email your Kindnesses to Karla's home email or to babythelonius@yahoo.com