This is usually around the time I’d be blogging about going to sign up for the annual Breakfast with Santa at Chestnut Ridge…but the truth is- it sold out in literally 4 days. INSANE!!! I remember the first year I got involved there weren’t even enough people to fill the downstairs restaurant and over the past several years the staff has worked so hard and it has grown so much that they literally max out the ball room and start a waiting list for those wanting to go. If you had any idea how much time and work goes into putting on this event behind the scenes to provide this experience for the local families, it makes me happy to see that it has grown so much! 🙂
Last year was such a huge success…and I expect this year to be just the same! AND…..I’m proud to say I photographed roughly 185 children. *GULP*……but I made it and without spiking my eggnog! ! HAHAHA!!! One of the things I love most about the Breakfast with Santa at Chestnut Ridge (besides all the fun activities like cookie decorating, etc.) you get a FREE digital download file of your child on Santa’s lap from yours truely…and the parents are ALLOWED to snap their own photos. I won’t be giving you the dirty eye ball when you pull out your cell phone or camera…..it’s encouraged! Yes, I will be taking one as well that we you can download when you get home…..but you are also permitted to take your own! Most places don’t allow you to do that!!
If you’re a Breakfast with Santa regular, you know that each year I hold a toy drive and if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know why. Just as a side note, the toy drive is NOT mandatory and it is strictly volunteer so please don’t feel obligated to bring one with you….although if you do, you’ll be entered to win a complimentary photo shoot with me! Each year I am humbled by the people who bring a toy to give back to their community. For those of you who may not know why I do this every year, let me share with you the story that I post every year and the reason behind my “why”:
When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I remember standing in line at one of the local churches. It was cold and we could see our breath…..and I remember watching other Mom’s carrying out boxes. My mom was about 23 at the time with an 8 year old and a 4 year old…and since my dad was working she had no one to watch us while she “ran her errands”. On this particular day, my sister and I watched as Mom picked up a box of toys that had been donated by complete strangers and given to the local churches for families like ours..needy families, families going thru hard times and rough patches! My dad worked countless hours to earn a paycheck to live in a trailer (that had seen better days) and to drive beat up cars. There were no more pennies to pinch for the holidays, my Mom had pinched them as far as they could possibly be pinched. At the time, I never worried about things like that…honestly, at the time I had no clue what my parents were going thru but looking back, it was so obvious. That was the year I got a Strawberry Short Cake suitcase filled with Barbie dolls and a Rainbow Bright doll-I will never forget it.
I’m not sure why THAT particular memory sticks…….and most people would be insanely embarrassed that they had to stand in line at a local church in order to provide a holiday for their family. Not me. I figure that I remember it to make me humble and to constant reminder of how I see the world. I choose to believe that there are GOOD people out there and at any time, any family could fall on “hard times”. Sure, eventually our family got out of the rough patch we were experiencing with some hard work and determination but I’ll never forget where I came from….and the COMPLETE strangers out there who were willing to make our Christmas a little brighter. Trust me, it didn’t go unnoticed! Often times when I post to Facebook about some act of kindness I’ve witnessed, lots of people are so quick to jump on the “ohh, wow, you mean there are still honest, kind people out there?”. My answer is YES…..there are. You just have to learn to see it or better yet, choose to be part of it!
This year we want to do the same as the last several years. We want to spread the love and do something GOOD for the families that were just like mine…… but I need your help to get the word out. If you will be coming to Breakfast with Santa on December 5th at Chestnut Ridge AND you bring along an unused, unopened toy(s) to be donated and distributed back into the community, your name will be entered into drawing for a chance to win a complimentary gift certificate with me to be used towards a family session (with ALL digital files-a $950 value). The more toys you bring, the more chances you get! *please make note: the winning session must be scheduled and used before May 30th 2016.
This is just a small sample of what you guys brought last year!
I’m so excited to see you guys again this year!!! Does anyone want to take bets on how many criers there will be there year?! Tee he he he!!!