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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Day After Christmas

A week before Christmas, me and my girlfriend decided to walk to Starbucks for coffee and a bagel for breakfast. As we walked by the coffee building we were stopped by a older man who seemed to be having trouble in his life and homeless as well. He asked for spare change. I told him that I didn't carry any as my girlfriend did too, that we usually carry bank cards only. He asked if I could get him some water, we told him we would see what they had inside. Me and my girlfriend knew that he has had it rough by the looks of his clothes and that it was cold outside and that he was sitting on the sidewalk. He was soft spoken but definitely polite and ended each sentence in "thank you sir." We decided though we couldn't do a lot and we had to get across town that he would enjoy warm food and something good to drink. We came out with a couple of bagels, some cream cheeses, and a couple of apple juices for him to enjoy. He thanked us, even though we knew he seemed to have been through a lot, especially for living on the streets in the cold.
    Me and my girlfriend talked about how we should have done more, but still what we did was helped him out in providing him with food that he didn't have before. We felt good for helping this man out, but bad for what he had to go through for how kind of a person he seemed to be and that no one should have to live in those conditions. Hope this shows to be an act of kindness. We gave something to someone less fortunate. It may not have lasted the day but got him through part. He thanked us even though it may have seemed minimal and I wish we could have done more for him. We do know however that he was thankful. We haven't seen him since and hope he has gotten more help in his situation. Hope this act of kindness shows how helping others matters and that we can always do more.
    Thanks Mr. F., glad to receive this message from you, as others have said that it was a nice surprise to hear from you again this Christmas. You have been a great friend and teacher, and have made me a better and smarter person from knowing you and taking your classes.
    Thanks, and will definitely post next Christmas,
---Bobby Craig

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Night

We went to church last night for children's service and we lit candles in honor of Theo. Theo will never be forgotten. Enjoy the rest of this day.
---Dave and Julie Fueglein, Theo's uncle and aunt, and Theo's cousins Juliet, Olivia and Sophie

HI Karla
I did my Random Act of Kindness yesterday with cards for Beatrix but held Theo in my mind as we entered the store to give me extra strength.
    For some reason I always get nervous, expecting someone to say, “What? No we can’t accept them for some policy reason or something.”
     Ophelia and I walked into the local service station–we waited in line, hoping for the friendly female attendant and then I said, "Can I please leave these with you and you pass them on to whoever you think?" (Really her part in it all is harder than mine picking someone).
     We left two cards each with $20.
     Her response was just what I needed-first total confusion as she was trying to work out what I was doing, then: “Really? That’s just awesome. Thank you so much.”
     I walked out with a little lump in my throat and tears welling.
     This 6th Christmas seemed harder than others- not as hard as the first but not easier as I hope each year it might be. Maybe I just forget the last one and it’s just the same. I know I try to make it happy for the others and I try to enjoy the parts I know are enjoyable. I think those parts are easier- the carols, the family time.
    Wishing you and all your family a peaceful and warm Christmas.
    With Love
    ---Rachel Neumann

Well hello there Mr. F., it's been quite awhile, and I'm surprised I even got this email, but appreciate that I did considering so far in my attendance at VCU you've been one of my favorite teachers ever.
    Now I'm not sure what your boundaries are in the way of random acts of kindness. However, I was back home and went to this house party of this girl, whose and parents were out of town and I didn't know her, but just a few of the people there. Well by the end of the night her parents' house was completely wrecked every which way: beer cans every possible place, trash thrown everywhere, wine and liquor bottles everywhere, alcohol spilt everywhere, even on the walls. However, I had only but one or two beers and had came to realize that this girl didn't realize the mistake she had made by throwing a party in her parents' house; here she was, genuinely nice for allowing such strangers as myself into her parents' lovely suburban home. No one there cared any about this house. I understood how much it'd mean to me for some stranger to actually care and clean up, so from that point on I silently spent the night cleaning up everything mentioned earlier, up until the moment I left without even saying goodbye. 
    I believe kindness can come in many forms and in far from typical methods, at places least expected of it. 
    Take care and happy holidays,
---Rob Borgatti

Christmas Morning

This year, while on my 650 mile road trip from Indy to Mom n Dad's, I pocketed my dragonfly stone, put Theophenomenology in the CD player, and committed as many random acts of kindness as possible. I paid for the car behind me when hitting the drive thru. I called several friends with whom I have lost touch to wish them happy holidays. I called some friends who are likely having a very difficult time this season to say I love you. I put dollars in Salvation Army buckets and quarters in candy dispensers for kids to find. By the time I got to mom and dad's, I felt a sense of joy and peace that I haven't experienced in quite some time. 
    Happy Holidays- I love you guys dearly.
---Pam Powell

Having gone through a traumatic experience a few months ago, I decided not so much to pay it forward but to continue with our traditions of experiencing something different which usually meant food.:-) I started at Thanksgiving this year and am now perfecting the perfect cheesecake. It is something Branch would love. There are so many people I want to thank but sharing a piece of this cheesecake would show his love and appreciation for helping me through this hard time. Next year... pay it forward.
---Lynn Welton

We gave $150 to our church friend's son who is dying with cancer. He is in his forties and there is nothing more the doctors can do.
---Linda and Norman Powell

We donated in Theo's name to the MISS Foundation and to Kara Jones's holiday wish to support the MISS Foundation  in her boys' names, Dakota and Mizuko Star Jones.  
    We also donated to ASK Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic  in Richmond in Abbie Waters and in Theo's memories.
---Karla Helbert

Hi there Fueglein family!
Thinking of you all this Christmas :) Hope Theo's stocking is as full as ever!
    This year, we invited my mother-in-law to share our family celebration in Colorado. She lost her husband on December 27 three years ago and it's a very lonely time for her. We decided we wouldn't take no for an answer and booked a plane ticket for her. And guess what? She spent the whole day learning to ski, with the biggest smile on her face.
    I ask your permission to forward your email about Theo's stocking to Patience Salgado, the big heart behind the Kindness Girl blog. She's really incredible and based here in Richmond. I think she might be able to give you some more momentum and also some more good thought.
    Merry Christmas!
---Robyn Jacobs

Today while I was working @ my part-time job @ a retail store, I heard one of my co-workers say that he was unable to buy his wife a Christmas present so I gave him $50 that I myself received as a Christmas present and told him to go buy his wife a gift card to get a pedicure, because I heard that she loves them. I know that he will probably try to pay me back at some point but, I don't expect it, it made me feel good to help.
    Thanx!  I hope you all have an awesome Christmas!

I went to the nursing home today and was introduced to a fabulous old English professor who sweetly offered me 15 hand written pages of authors and book I should read after he heard I majored in Literary Arts at school. So I read him a couple of poems; he couldn't speak very well but he would point or touch his heart every so often and smile. We also shared the newest issue of the art magazine he received, which he collects and organizes by month in his room.
I know that's not a big thing. But I really enjoyed it.
    Merry Christmas to you!
---Rivanna Youngpool

Mr. F,
Hope everything is going well for you. Merry Christmas to you and your family. You have been my favorite professor at VCU thus far, and I just want to say thank you for all your teachings in FI last year. Below I will share with you my activities today for you to place into Theo's Stocking.
    Today on Christmas Eve, I went to my church, Life Church on Atlee Road in Mechanicsville, VA, at 8am. We departed from the church around 8:20am with a van-full (one of those commercial vans with the 5-row seating) of wrapped presents for kids who attend our church that are less fortunate. About 4 weeks ago, my church put all of these kids' names together and asked each child to write a couple needs that they had as well as a couple wants. Just like an Angel Tree, anyone was able to adopt a child and get what they could for their child.
    So this morning, a married couple in my church who are the main directors of our Outreach programs, along with myself, packed into this van and went to each child's house and delivered their presents. We ended up waking up the first half of these houses since they were still asleep. I took my camera into each house and snapped quite a few pictures, attempting to capture the priceless smiles of joy on their faces. Seeing their happy faces today was truly the best Christmas gift I have ever received in my life. This Christmas is definitely my favorite Christmas yet. We finished all of the houses by noon, and these families and children were so thankful and grateful for what we did as a church family.
    Right after this, my church had an outreach for the homeless in Monroe Park today that they organized with a couple other churches from 2-4pm. We had quite the turnout (in both homeless people and helpers from our church). We handed out bags filled with hygiene supplies, bagged lunches, bottled water, wrapped presents, coats, and cake. Then, we sang Christmas carols and partook in a memorial service right there in the park near one of the trees for the homeless who passed away this year as well as any loved ones that we have had pass away. Unfortunately, I did have a friend, Jyreffe Patrick Clark, pass away last Saturday. He attended my church and was my poetry partner. He died with a Bible in his hand, and as the Child of God he was, I am at peace knowing that he is in Heaven by God's side.
    Perhaps Jyreffe is playing some tunes and reciting poetry to your Theo :)
    Merry Christmas,
---Steven Funes

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24th

Merry Christmas in Theo's memory.
Love to you and yours.
I gave $50 to http://tipitinasfoundation.org/
whose mission it is to preserve Louisiana music and culture.
    Much love,
---Carolyn White

In honor of Theo I am praying to be in a state of gratitude. There is so much to be thankful for and it is easy to get off track/distracted by the goings and comings of life. I hope this is in the spirit of what you mean, I have been thinking about what to do and I came up with this idea that for the next two days every thought that is not positive I am going to ask for God to remove and help me to honor Theo's life with gratitude and to say nothing but kind and encouraging words. Your story touches me and moves me in the direction I want my life to mirror one of gratitude and kindness! (Ideally I would live this way all the time but two days would truly be a miracle/gift from God that I could keep my mouth shut and my thoughts on gratitude).

I found out a young guy I work with has a strained relationship with his family and as a result will be alone for Christmas. I will give him an anonymous gift in Theo's memory. I also plan to visit an elderly shut in to deliver some freshly baked goodies on Christmas day, since she turned down my offer to come to our house for Christmas. Always thinking of you. Lula's Christmas card was a BIG HIT with the girls! So cute! Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.
---Laura Lee Folman

Hi Jamie, Karla, and Lula,
            I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  I also hope that many wonderful acts of kindness were performed in honor of Theo's memory.  I decided to call our families in Noah's Children to wish them Merry Christmas and to remind them how very special they are when they take such wonderful care of these very special children, such as Theo.  Your child and all the special children of Noah's Children are never forgotten.
            Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
---Bob A. Archuleta, MD
Medical Director, Noah's Children

I am so glad to have reconnected with you and to read about Theo’s Christmas Stocking Blog. Jamie’s blog entry was so moving I felt compelled to write back. I felt it was so honest, raw and beautiful. Both of you have the ability to find words to express the emotions that only those who have suffered a profound loss of a child can truly comprehend. As always, I am moved to tears and an inner introspection when I read your writing.
            I wanted to share my thoughts with you about what you wrote about how difficult the holidays are for many people. My father’s father passed away at Christmas time when my dad was in high school. As a result, Christmas was always difficult for my father especially since his mom died a few years later. He tried very hard to put on an act for my sister and I. He bought a tree, he bought gifts, he smiled. But my sister and I always knew he was sad. It grew progressively worse over the years and I think also because he mentally associate the holidays with sadness. I was talking with my girlfriends about this a few years ago. I was surprised to find out how many of them struggle with the holidays. Some with alcoholic parents, some with the inability to become pregnant, some having an expectation that the holidays are supposed to be merry and when they are not they are disappointed. I am always amazed at the handful of people I know who truly seem to have the Christmas spirit. My aunt, despite having had multiple miscarriages, losing both of her parents, and having a husband with Crone’s disease, she opens her door on Christmas day with a house in full decor. She makes a thousand cookies and cooks a dinner that would make you cry it is so amazing. And she laughs, she is genuinely happy. I don’t feel that it is an act that she is trying to muster or a day she is trying to “get through”. She embodies that joy. And I find myself envious of her ability to do this.
            I think so much of you and your family and the lives that Theo has touched and continues to touch through both of your writing and Karla with your gift as a therapist. My act of kindness to put in Theo’s stocking is not an ordinary one and I am vowing to do it starting this year. As Yoda says, “Do or do not, there is no try.” But I am going to find the “merry” in Christmas. I am going to do this for my children because I do not want them to remember Christmas with an aura of sadness or to inherit my sense of inability to find the joy. I am going to do this for myself and my friends who struggle with the holidays, as a role model like my aunt who just being in her presence radiates joy. And I will do it for my father who after 45 years of marriage left my mom this year and still seems unable to find peace in his life.
            I was moved by Jamie’s ability while standing in the chaos of the store and the reality that he won't be purchasing an outfit or toy for his 6 year old son, to see the good. To see the joy of the rainbow of children and to know that light will always dispel darkness. And Karla, for you to have the strength to turn this unfathomable loss into a way in which you help others to grieve, to keep breathing, moving forward. And the strength of the bond you two have together is beautiful.
            My gift to you dear Theo is to bring light to my family and others this holiday season. True light and joy, not a fabricated facade of what merry is supposed to be. Your light will always shine on little boy.
            Peace, Love and Light,
            Stacy Chizuk

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Second Day of Winter, Friday Evening, December 23

Today I am sitting in an urgent care office because I slammed my hand in a table yesterday and need an X-ray. A mom, grandma and their almost three year old just came in because the little girl took apart a hair bow with jingle bells on it. She shoved one up each nostril and one in each ear. They got all of them out but one in her nostril. Mom is SO worried I just went up to the desk and asked them to let her go in before me. As I did this I thought "They are going to get this jingle bell out QUICKLY in Theo's name." You can't make this stuff up. :-) There's always a Theo opportunity!
---Michelle Beaubien Witte

 In the grand scheme of things my random act of kindness is miniscule but a good deed nonetheless.
            Today in my travels home I encountered a mother with child on one of my flights who was in need of an aisle seat. I gladly offered her mine in trade for her seat. 
            I would have done this any day and not have mentioned it, but I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and respond to your email. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher. I can only hope that I encounter more teachers like you in my endeavors at VCU as well as my professional career. Merry Christmas to you and Yours,
 ---Jon Murphy 

We decided to give a homeless man we see every day by our house a gift. My son and I picked out hats, gloves, toiletries and a lunch.
Thank you for reminding us of what's important!
---Sommer Humphries

After reading your email I looked for some opportunities- what a beautiful idea!
So- I put change in the meters of some cars near MCV while I was there
And- I decided that I am waiving a session fee for a private practice client who is struggling financially.
---Camille Adams

 I just donated some money to Kiva.org to support a lady in Peru in her grocery business in Theo’s name.  Since we traveled in Peru this year, it was near and dear to my heart. 
One special story that I have been meaning to tell you… Adam and I were in Austin, Texas in September at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and at our first artist’s show, Brandi Carlile.  She started playing the cover song “Forever Young” and it was this quiet, special moment with just her voice and the piano.  I got the chills and was thinking about all of our loved ones that we have lost too young and right in my field of view of the stage was a beautiful dragonfly.  It was so magical! I just gave him a wink and big smile and said “Thank you Theo!!” That was the only dragonfly I saw all weekend long…amazing!!
            I am always sending love your way.  I hope that you all have a great holiday season, whatever that means for you and I look forward to catching up soon!!
----Anna (Madland) Bender

In memory and honor of all those passed on that I will miss at the holidays..I got two $50.00 gift cards and delivered them to two of our students..one family is living in a motel (with six children) and mom has medical issues.
--- Debra Gibson-Davenport

What a wonderful way to remember your precious son!
We gave $300.00 to a single Mother, who is legally blind with four children for clothes.
We took food for Christmas dinner to Miss Essie. She feeds 20 to 30 elderly in public housing that wouldn't have a meal except for her.
May you be richly blessed this Christmas season!

Today I left a candy cane on the dash of my brother's car with a note that said "Merry Christmas."
     Merry Christmas to you and your family as well, and thank you for including me in your email list.
---Lydia Armstrong

From Oxfam America Unwrapped, we bought two school uniforms in honor of Thelonius Fueglein. This means that two children in need will always have clean clothes for school. Proceeds from Oxfam America go to efforts to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. 
---Frank Green and Sally Campbell

Hi Karla, here is my contribution to Theo's Stocking. I organized and made Thanksgiving Dinner for my neighbors. Debra, the mom, has cancer and was not able to make dinner for the family. I did this for Theo, my own mom, and for all those fighting the evil of cancer.
---Carol Schall

We went caroling last night (but because of my voice) this may not be a kind act. My son and I also helped a woman whose car was out of gas. I try to do kind things everyday--as I know you do also.
---Michele Young-Stone

It's just a small thing, but my husband and I spent last evening baking Christmas cookies and having dinner (we took soup and wine) with some friends who just learned that the husband has cancer. They are struggling to maintain some sense of normality this holiday season and I hope that our presence  helped them to enjoy a few moments of the holiday season and to forget their troubles for just a while.
---Lynn Pelco

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The First Day of Winter

This year I called the gas company to order gas for someone who couldn't afford it for their fireplace gas logs. Now if the electricity goes off they will still be warm.
---Dyanne Helbert, Theo's Granna

Today, my friends and I used our left over swipes to buy food for the homeless! It was a great feeling. Happy holidays!
---Udari Liyanage

Last week I was meeting my parents for lunch, and noticed a man standing near his car. He told me his battery was dead, so I went and got some jumper cables, and gave his car a jump. Turns out he was driving his mother to the dentist, so it helped get both of them home.
Hope you had a good fall semester, and have a merry Christmas, and happy new year.
---Pete Hanley

Tonight, I baked mini bundt cakes for my neighbors. I thought of Theo and everyone who is missing their loved ones this holiday season. I am missing my Dad who passed 2 years ago. I will be assembling the cakes with love and delivering them to my neighbors in Theo's Memory. He was an Angel on Earth.
---Julie Aliff

I gave $100 to a lady who has four kids and very little income. Made me feel good to know that those babies would get something for Christmas.
---Angela Dawn Goforth

With my mom having cancer she and my family haven't paid much attention to the house. It's quite messy and I know my mom gets really stressed when things aren't done. I decided that I would clean some part of the house for her everyday I am home for winter break to keep her happy.
---Haley Welch

My family is honored to be a part of this. We paid a portion of someone's gas fill up, and the person behind us toll. 
---Cathy Davis

In memory of Theo, the Jones' have donated $35 to the adoption fund for Percy, a child with Down Syndrome in Taiwan. Our friend Jen K. is his Christmas Warrior, raising funds towards his adoption fund.
---Bobbi Roberts Jones

For my father and Theo, I fixed 40 lunches today for homeless people and tomorrow I am going to K-Mart to pay off as many layaways for kids' Christmases that I can

I miss Theo. Even though I never technically met him, I miss him so. I hope in some way he and James have found each other and can play sometimes...
            This Friday, my husband Joe and I are bringing toys to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. For James, for Theo, for my Uncle Dieter who died when he was 4 1/2 months old, for so many others and because there are so many children there who I can't bear will be there for Xmas. I must do something because they need to know they are loved. That even though I don't know them, I love them and I care and I hope that helps them in some way.
            Sending love and hugs to your family, those who are walking and those who are soaring. MISSing them so.
            For our children. xox. Loving my Sweet Baby James forever.
---Gina Metcalfe

I helped buy groceries, Christmas dinner, for a young woman and her son.  She had a stroke and he is taking care of her. My friend Connie Wright, daughter Tina Mullins, with the help of others at church, furnished her trailer with furniture, kitchen needs and beds because she had nothing. Another one of the pay-it-forward things I love to do is when I go through a drive through to pick up a meal. I pay for the car behind me.  People come up to my car and thank me and I tell them "Jesus loves you"!!
---Regina Orr Yates

In the past my younger sister and I did not get along at all. Our relationship was very aggressive, evenly physically. It seemed as we grew older, we grew apart. In our primary school years, we showed minimal acts of kindness. They were very few, but they occurred. Then, all kindness disappeared. Until recently. When I went to college, my sister had a change of heart. In the first month of school she even sent me a text telling me goodnight and that she loves me.
            It wasn't supposed to be just the two of us. Six years ago, around this time, we should have received a little brother. He was to be named Jordan Jaivon Scoggins. However, he was was born four months early, and stood no chance. My sister and I were away to visit out grandfather for summer break when we got the call. For a while, I thought I would see Jordan. I thought I would hear him call my name. I am so positive that it was him. I know it, because I look to that little guy as my guardian angel.
            When my sister and I had no emotional connection, we wouldn't even say happy birthday to one another. Now, we are buying Christmas presents for each other. My heart is so filled with love now for my little sister, I smile when I think of how far we've come. So all of my kind acts this holiday season are dedicated to my younger siblings, both gone and here.
---DiaMonté Scoggins

One day in the middle of November, my boyfriend had decided to pick me up from my afternoon class. He was walking me home and he caught a glimpse of something somewhat hidden beneath leaves on the side of the road. It was the an iPhone that was perfectly good and had zero scratches. The protective cover was still on it as well. We stopped and turned it on, there was thankfully no password and the owner's e-mail was readily available. I e-mailed the owner and had her confirm that it was hers by describing the design on the cover. She was very grateful that we had returned it and didn't decide to sell or use it for ourselves!
            My boyfriend also found an i-pad at the airport earlier in June and turned it in. The other week, I was sitting in the VCU commons and found a lost wallet with money, credit cards, and all of what you'd expect in a typical wallet. I sat on guard for 40 minutes to make sure it wasn't someone that had taken a bathroom break or something like that. I turned it in before leaving with the hope that it would be returned.
---Renee & Greg

Hey Mr. F!
This is just a small thing, but for some reason was the first that came to mind when I saw your e-mail. The other night I was in Wal-Mart and of course the lines were out of control. There was an elderly woman in front of me in line and she was having a hard time paying with her debit card. The cashier was starting to get irritated with her slowness, so I asked her if she could read the screen okay. She had poor vision so I helped her push the right buttons on the card machine. I didn't think it was much but when she went to leave she turned, placed a hand on my arm and thanked me. Maybe it was her touch but it warmed my heart and I felt good leaving the store. I hope you have a happy holiday.
    With love,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Rainbow of Children

"Have a good Christmas," one of my students said to me.
            "I'll try my best to do just that," I said.
            Another student piped up: "You don’t sound like you mean it."
            "Well," I said, "I kind of hate Christmas."
            "Why in the world would anyone hate Christmas?" he asked.
            "I have a dead child," I said.
            "Oh, yeah." He bowed his head and felt a little bad, which wasn't my intent. I don’t expect everyone to go around remembering that my son is dead, and I'm glad it's not the only thing that defines me. But still---I did answer his question. And there are a lot of people who kind of hate Christmas, and generally for good reasons. But they keep their mouths shut about it, and duck the whole Jesus-Is-Lord and Shop-Till-You-Drop thing so everyone else can have a good time.
            I decided to write the intro for Thelonius' Stocking Blog this year as a gift to my family. Some people might interpret that I made this a gift because it would be a cheap---even free---gift. But it is hardly that. It has been the most difficult thing I have written in years, easily. I wanted to make this a gift because it gets overwhelming. By "it" I mean the grief. I mean the thinking about a child you'll never get to hang with or watch play a game or do anything with or see ever again. By "it" I mean the sadness, the longing. I mean the sightings of six year old boys who fit the general description of Theo were he a living, breathing six year old today. I mean the crushing blues that accompany the knowledge that Theo will never enjoy Christmas like everyone else gets to. I mean the feeling that if we don't keep a blog, it'll be disrespectful to our brave little boy. It's difficult to be cheerful and write about the season of light and joy and happiness and crap like that when my child is dead. And so I thought I'd take the burden off Karla this year.
            "But your daughter is healthy," another student said.
            "Yes," I said. "And I'll make sure her Christmas is great. That doesn’t mean my son isn’t dead."
            She bowed her head and felt a little bad. I think it's okay that she felt a little bad. Lula isn't a stand in, she is not a substitute, and it is not her job to take my mind away from my dead Theo. I realize that some folks likely never will understand this. But so what if they don't? Perhaps they shouldn't. Perhaps you can only really understand what it feels like to have your child die if your child dies. To have your baby die in your arms is an experience I'd wish on no one. There's only so much I could say to my student, terrified that a conversation concerning a dead baby was actually occurring; all she had wanted was a good Christmas. I had the feeling she was now thinking about something she'd never considered before. So I left it at that. I also had the feeling that she will have a good Christmas. And if she won’t have a good Christmas, I hope I opened the door for her to come talk about it, which is what people who kind of hate Christmas need to do---they need to talk about it.
            Nah, I think. None of this can go on Theo's Stocking blog. This is the season of light and joy…who'd wanna read this dreck?
            For me, though, this blog has become a sort of antidote to the rest of the year. For me, it's not really about Christmas at all. It's about expressions of good. Christmas is the excuse for people to do good things and send them to us. When I get blue thinking about my dead son and the subjects I research and teach---genocides, wars, rape, racism, prison, waste, fraud---I need a reminder of the good. And I know there is good, massive amounts of it, and that all the good outweighs all the evil we constantly see and hear about all the time; it’s just that goodness is quieter than evil, and evil makes press. If it weren't the case that there is more good than evil in the world, this blog and this writing and you and I might possibly not be here.  
            But still a wall remained: what could I write as an intro to  this blog? I've spent a week thinking about what to write. I sat and thought and I stood up and thought and I sat back down and thought. I came to nothing. So instead of staring out my own window into my own muddy backyard with my crabby old eyes, I decided to go shopping!
            Some choice I made.
            I went to a store, a big store crammed with consumers. Lots of people hustling around, buying more than they can afford, checking off lists, haggling, arguing, texting while carting, making messes of the clothes and toys and expensive coffee makers. Sensory overload. So as I watched, I inwardly focused more, again, still on what I'd post as the intro to this blog. I could write what I saw: In this season of shoving and plastic objects…
            Who'd want to read that?
            I wandered to toddlers' apparel. There were less people there; it’s difficult to maneuver a cart through the close-packed racks. I compared the scant variety of shirts available for girls: in one hand I held up a yellow shirt with princesses on it, and in the other a pink shirt with princesses on it. I shook my head, replaced the clothes on their racks, and wandered closer to the boys clothes: better colors, less pink, more patterns, greater variety, less Disney. I remained hyperaware not to look at anything I would clothe Theo in---and then, just then, a woman stopped me to ask how old my son was.
            I can only imagine the expression I made. I remember stammering something in way of a response, but I don’t know what the hell it was. I felt like she'd punched me in the gut.
            "You do have a son?" she said.
            "Well," I said, hot-faced, trying to breathe, "that's a tricky question. I don't. Not now. I did. But he died. He died of a tumor, a brain tumor, a big brain tumor in his head." I felt like an idiot: of course a brain tumor is in a head, dolt!
            "Oh," the woman said. "I'm sorry."
            "Yeah, well, me too," I said, but I'd said it all wrong. I didn’t mean it the way it came out, gnarled and loathing. The woman meant no harm. It was the cancer that had killed him. "I'm sorry, " I said. "I mean 'thank you.' But why?"
            "What?" she said. "Why what?"
            Why did he have to die? I didn't say.  Instead: "Why are you asking me about my son?"
            "I just thought… I'm buying this shirt…" Red with navy trim, the shirt depicted a little bright train about to enter a little dark tunnel.
            "Oh," I said.
            "I'm sorry," she said.
            "Oh," I said. "No, don’t be sorry." But do be sorry, I didn’t say. "Buy it bigger than it needs to be. He'll grow into it," I said, and didn’t add if he's lucky. If you're lucky. If everyone is lucky. 
            "Thank you," she said.
            "No, thank you," I said. "I mean, you're welcome." I didn’t know what I meant or what had just happened. Why had I set myself up for this certain doom? Damn toddlers' apparel!
            I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all. I thought I was going to fall over. I had to get away. I weaved to the exit through a maze of kids: blond boys, black boys, Asian girls, brothers and sisters, Indian boys, white girls, Asian boys, Mexican boys and brown and yellow and red and green and purple children, children, children everywhere, a rainbow of children.
            And then, all at once, I could breathe again. A rainbow of children.
            A rainbow of children is the antidote to the shoving frustration, the breathlessness, the anger of adults destroying each other: they start wars and take each others' homes and money and jobs; they slaughter wholesale and claim it in the name of god and heaven; they rape and murder for pleasure and they hate each other to death. So if there's anything I want this blog to do, and it can do this simple thing, I want it to serve as a reminder of good. It really is simple after all. A rainbow of children has to give up a lot of energy, creativity and brilliant, clever engagement to end up like us tired old saggy big people. So, while they are still young, I'd like to dedicate this blog this year to a rainbow of children, and also to Thelonius who didn’t get to be part of the rainbow very long, and to Lula, who stands big and loud smack-dab in the middle of the rainbow, and to Karla, for whom I hope the good of the blog serves as antidote to those crushing Christmas blues.