{valuing friendship and community during the busiest season–it’s JDRF time once again}

Did you know that in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made an attempt to move Thanksgiving up a week?

I don’t know about you, but I could really use that extra week right about now. I would like to start some holiday baking, but we’ve just barely started working through the Thanksgiving leftovers.

I would likely have supported FDR’s effort to move Thanksgiving up from the fourth Thursday of November to the third. His goal was to extend the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas,  allowing for greater economic activity during the Great Depression.

My support would have been hoping for just a bit more breathing room.

Yep! I could use an extra week before hurling myself into holiday prep!

Within two years this “good idea” had run its course, however, and Thanksgiving returned to its original place on the calendar.

I wonder if the legislators from the sixteen non-compliant states were the ones in their households responsible for all the pre-holiday cleaning, shopping, invitations, cooking, more cleaning up after all that cooking, and then a giant repeat four weeks later? My money’s on “NO!”

I noticed that before we even set our Thanksgiving table I was already fielding a barrage of assorted media messages to “Avoid the Christmas rush! Hurry and shop NOW!” Nothing says “happy holidays” like a little agitation.

On the other hand…

Instead of being sucked into the frenzy of consumerism, this is a good time of year to reflect on other valuables.

I started thinking about the benefits of a strong personal community of friends when a few weeks ago we once again joined thousands of others at the annual JDRF Walk to Cure Type 1 diabetes.

Keep Calm

The goal of the walk is to raise money for research. Our personal goal is to help raise that money, yes, but also to share in the experience and make it very clear to two families who hold a very special place in our lives that we care about them.

Aimee and Madison

I shared about Aimee a few years ago, when she wasn’t yet in high school. Even though Aimee, pictured here on the left with her sister Madison, would prefer not to have so much attention placed on her health and occasional crises, she very graciously welcomes friends and family eager to participate in the walk.

T1-D affects the whole family, and the two families that invite us to walk along with them are creative and resourceful, and definitely know how to mobilize their supporters and maximize the effort.

Prior to the walk at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, Aimee’s mom, Cristin, organized “Craft for a Cure,” a neighborhood boutique with proceeds going to JDRF/Los Angeles County, and providing friends and family another way to connect and support.

A couple of weeks after the Rose Bowl walk, we went to Angel Stadium in Orange County to support our six-year-old friend, Jack.

I wrote about Jack last year at this time.


I asked Jack’s mom, Dani, if I could share a current photo of this young man and she consented, saying it was “fine” for now, but we agreed it would soon be his choice. Like Aimee, Jack is not comfortable with being in the spotlight.

The “Jack’s Jiants” team of supporters is one of the largest in the region, and most of that attention is focused right back on Jack, with the hope that one day he won’t be in the T1D spotlight at all.

Both of these very successful walks were grand examples of community. Thousands of people came together to support individual loved ones, and while the effort may be directed towards personal connections, there is a larger coalition of commitment to eradicate this disease for all of the children and their families.

The value of community and the benefits of friendship in support of one another is a joy to witness. While we represented a tiny fraction of support, I marveled at how these two families so joyously connected their many friends together creating a team of support that extends into their daily lives, not just for a fund-raising event.

It’s been something to think about.

Friendships old and new, the value of creating and then tending a supportive community and the satisfaction that comes from rallying around others with need–these are the priorities I’m thinking about before jumping off the deep end into the holidays.

That is after the Thanksgiving leftovers are no longer a discussion, of course.

35 thoughts on “{valuing friendship and community during the busiest season–it’s JDRF time once again}

    1. Occasionally I spend time on the JDRF website, Colleen, and read about anticipated breakthroughs in treating T1D, including promising results in an artificial pancreas. I can really imagine there will be a day when the severity of this disease won’t be nearly what it is today. I enjoy participating along with the others and to feel a part of these sweet families. ox

  1. I received an ad the day after Thanksgiving. It’s gist? Labeling me (and others of like ilk) as procrastinators because we haven’t already FINISHED stampeding the malls for bargains.


    The more commercial Christmas becomes, the more merrily I bow out of it. Instead of chomping at the bit to shop, shop, shop . . . I’ll relax at home and listen to Carols.

    1. Oh my goodness, Nancy! Procrastination! The language of advertising is really insidious! I am doing what I can to persuade other members of my family to join me in cutting back even more than in years past, and we have been steadily doing so for the past few years! I would enjoy the season so much more if Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were somehow not all squished so close together. In the end it’s up to each of us to pull the plug ourselves on all that holiday excess, isn’t it! 🙂

    1. I only recently learned about FDR’s attempt to change Thanksgiving, Andrew! I wasn’t exaggerating in expressing my wish that the earlier date had remained intact! It would have been so helpful to me. LOL!

  2. Back east it is “walk” season. I don’t know if we had a diabetes walk (it may have been earlier in the fall) but I am always amazed at how people have become galvanized to fight disease. It’s wonderful. I used to walk for our local leukemia/lymphoma group and then breast cancer. I’ve been so pleased that the tradition carries on with my nieces and nephews with a variety of charities that they feel strongly about. I had a friend with Type I diabetes. She was diagnosed in her early 30s (no, it’s not only a childhood disease). Actually she was misdiagnosed and almost died. I have learned a lot from her as it seems more tricky to manage than Type 2.

    1. I know what you mean about “walk season,” Kate. I couldn’t possibly participate in more, I don’t think, but it’s been a pleasure to participate in the JDRF walks because we care so much for these two families. The walks provide time to chat with other participants and it’s an easy way to show support. I have friends who support Cancer research through some of the walks, several in memory of loved ones they lost to Cancer. I have heard of young adults and older diagnosed for the first time with Type 1 and that always surprises me. I think your friend was very fortunate. When our son was in elementary school one of his closest friends was misdiagnosed and very nearly died as well. I do believe that Type 1 is much more unstable. I am certainly glad to know that your friend eventually received the care she needed!

      1. She did that. Unfortunately her young son was diagnosed shortly afterward. She was a good person. When they moved both her and her son to the insulin pump she gave me their pen insulin for my cat. It was the only insulin that worked for him.

  3. Beautiful! That’s awesome the work that is being done with T1D in your community…you know my cousin also has T1D and it truly does impact the family/community. What a beautiful reminder of the power of support and encouragement we can all have when we rally together (especially in light of how Thanksgiving weekend can turn so “me, me, me” with all the consumer spending the last several years). Anyway, I’m here right with you, taking a deep breath before the holiday rush sets in!

    1. I do recall that your cousin has T1D, Stacey. I have adult friends with T1D and although we grew up together, I wasn’t aware when we were children of all the ways Diabetes affected their independence. Aimee and Jack have wonderful families and they have no shortage of friends who love them. I hope you’ve posted about your first Thanksgiving? And now on to Christmas–slowly! 🙂

  4. Finally, a few minutes to catch up with your words here, Debra. I knew I needed to take my time reading it, for you know how close T1-D, and a cure, is to my heart. Thank you, dear friend. Thank you. I am sure Aimee and Jack and all those that love them appreciate all those who walked and who donated to the JDRF Walks. In my heart of hearts, I believe there will be a cure in their lifetime, and all those, like yourself, who support this walk will have helped get to the cure.
    I love Jack’s t-shirt and I understand both kids not wanting the attention. They just want to be like the other kids. I like the T1-D term as it separated Type 1 from Type 2, which really is a different disease, but, that’s another story for another time.
    FDR had, for my 2 cents worth, a good idea. It would give us time to finish the leftovers – and perhaps enjoy the season more. I refuse to buy into the Black Friday/Cyber Monday hype, preferring instead to enjoy the season and let it slowly unfold.

    1. You know, Penny, I didn’t know that much about T1-D until maybe a decade ago. One of my oldest friends, diagnosed at 3, began to experience some really severe complications from her more than 50 years with the disease, and it was then that I began to learn, and really comprehend how dissimilar it is from Type 2. I know how intimately you know the range of complications and how hard it is on internal organs and the body’s systems. Jack was diagnosed very young, and Aimee just a few years older, but still in early elementary school. Our hearts just broke when we learned because by then we did understand how serious a disease it is. But I, like you, honestly believe that in their lifetime the breakthroughs are going to be incredible and they will experience a cure, or at minimum a gentle treatment that will greatly improve their lives. I did think of your Antler Man while we were on the walk. I have a lot of time to really examine T-shirts and watch families mobilize and it’s often very clear that the disease runs in some of the families. Occasionally I’ll note an older adult, perhaps a grandfather to one of the young children, and they have a t-shirt or other indicator that they, too, have the disease. I think that all fundraising efforts are a greater joy when we are thinking of someone we love, and I do love these two children and their families. So it’s a joy to walk as part of their strong teams! I’m so glad to have your perspective and comments, Penny. You know better than I what the research and finding a cure would do for families like yours. Hugs! ox

  5. Diabetes is such a dreadful disease and I do feel for people who suffer from the condition. My son’s singing teacher has T1-D and during the lesson we often hear ‘beep beep’ as her insulin monitor goes off. I would find it so debilitating or controlling to live with something like that. I did think of you recently when it suddenly occurred to me how little time Americans have been Thanksgiving and Christmas. No sooner are you over one celebration when you’re hurtling towards another! We have a much longer and more gradual build-up as we don’t really have Halloween and we definitely don’t have Thanksgiving so our entire focus is on Christmas xx

    1. As you know I have been drooling over your beautiful Christmas cakes. Every year I think I’m going to get started in July or August just to compensate for the end of the year rush, but I never do. The funny thing about that is that it’s hot (summer) in July and I don’t feel motivated, but here you are with your Christmas in summer and you don’t let heat stop you. So as much as I complain, perhaps I could still do a little better advance planning, right? 🙂

  6. Nothing is like support from friends and family – like the two walks you mention here is prove of. I am always impressed by people who goes out of the line to support others. And wonderful post, Debra. As for Thanksgiving, being non-American, it’s not really a problem for me, but I can empathize with your sentiment. 🙂

    1. Otto, once a year we join our friends in the JDRF walk to show support, but the two families are heavily invested year-round supporting the research organizations and raising money while at the same time juggling their family responsibilities and employment. For them, focus on Type 1 diabetes is a full-time responsibility and I admire them so much. You are probably aware that Thanksgiving is a very big holiday here in the States, and consequently a lot of effort goes into the meal, the family gathering and a variety of traditions. In less than 24 hours after the meal is served, some of my neighbors were outside decorating for Christmas. I’m reasonably sure that when Thanksgiving was introduced and so near to Christmas people didn’t go absolutely “over the top” with foods, gifts and decorating. Perhaps if we kept our expectation a bit more modest I wouldn’t feel quite so squeezed! There’s an idea. 🙂

  7. I had no idea about the 2-year change in Thanksgiving. Given the length of the shopping season now, why not the second Thursday in October!

    Cheers to your participation in this events. Great point about using the spirit of the season to support and participate in good causes.

    1. I only recently learned about FDR’s attempt to change the date and my reaction was almost funny. I was annoyed! The season always feels incredibly rushed and to know that we might have had just a little “wiggle room” felt like a tease. But I like your idea the best. The second Thursday in October would be absolutely perfect for me! I could easily get behind that date. 🙂

  8. I cannot imagine growing up under the constraints of T1-D, especially in my home. I wonder what that cookbook would have looked like? I applaud your support of the JDRF, Debra. Talk about worthwhile causes. I give to a charity (Oxfam) annually and this year learned that donations made on Cyber Monday were matched. I’d no idea, usually making my contribution later in December. Is it possible that the JDRF has something similar? Wouldn’t that be great? I do not know if Oxfam will do this yearly but I’ve already made note of it on next year’s Cyber Monday.
    As for leftovers, I’ve got almost a half-turkey broken down and frozen. I’m in no hurry to defrost any of it. 😉

  9. My first husband was affected by the sweets and he was talking about his father had diabetes so maybe he walks now in Centerville, Ohio. My friends and coworkers try to walk around the tracks for JD Relay for life, but I have also requested we have a fundraiser at work. We decided on a “pay in” potluck. We all bring food and then ask others to donate money to eat our lunch.

    1. Oh, we had our fundraising end sending a great check from Advance Auto distribution center #3 for thousands of dollars to JDRF! I am proud we get this going all month and have bake sales and “sell” our potlucks for $4 a plate to other departments. . . Raffles, of course! 🙂

        1. This is our annual October fundraising project which is company wide. I learned a lot more about JDRF from our doing this, Debra. I want to apologize for my cell phone “which morphs” my letters and words.
          I have walked once for this philanthropic project but I wish it didn’t land on the weekend I usually begin my November vacation each year. My mom turned 87 on November first. 🙂

  10. I agree with you Debra, the legislators were obviously not the one’s preparing the feast, although I don’t know if a week would have any effect. In Canada I believe they feast a whole month earlier (because of the colder weather, I suppose for the harvest.) Kudos to you in this busy time you make it a priority to help others. Happy giving!

    1. You’re right, Cristina, and one extra week would hardly help me prepare any better for the holiday season, but someone long ago could have made the suggestion that we don’t have any major holidays in June! Why not be thankful then? LOL! I suppose I need to stop complaining and just start preparing earlier. I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the season no matter how busy!

    1. The article I read didn’t really make it clear that FDR permanently changed the date a week forward, but your dad’s memory is strong evidence that it may be true. I am so delighted to hear that your dad just celebrated his 92nd birthday! That is absolutely an extraordinary gift. My dad is a few years younger and I would be so blessed to have him reach this special milestone. I hope that you, your family and in particular your dad, have a wonderful Christmas, Carl.

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