Piece by Piece: Sharing the Spirit of Christmas

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This year, Peter is captured by the spirit of giving. Photo Credit: Patrice Athanasidy
Patrice Athanasidy is the mother of three. Her son Peter has PDD-NOS, an autistic spectrum disorder. Photo Credit: Larry Roberg

My family learned about children and hospitals during the holidays several years ago when our cousin Ross was battling leukemia. He had to spend Christmas in the hospital and we all did our best to make it as festive as possible.

Charlotte, Peter and Kit also watched a clip on the news that year about Ross receiving presents at the hospital from total strangers who really brightened his day. Ever since, they have wanted to help other children in the hospital at the holidays in Ross’ memory.

The first couple of years we sent Swiss Colony gifts to several people, which included a gingerbread house donation in their name to a local children’s hospital. My kids loved the idea, but wanted to do something more personal this year.

One night, I found the three of them huddled around my laptop choosing presents. Charlotte had the wish list for Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla on one screen and the Toys R Us website on another.  Kit decided to send receiving blankets in blue and pink to the youngest children at the hospital, saying she loved the idea of keeping babies warm. Charlotte sent a preschool piano, sharing her love of music.

Peter sent the Fisher Price Rock a Stack. When he was a baby he loved that toy to the level of obsession. I actually had to hide it for a while because he had a crazy fascination for circles and would spin them forever. After he started therapy, he was able to play with that toy the right way and loved stacking the rings, over and over.

As we piled into the car to drive to Valhalla with the gifts, Peter looked right at me and said he thought the little boy that got the Rock a Stack would be happy. He asked if that is why we were bringing the presents. When I said yes, he just smiled with his half grin and said he thought it would since that toy made him happy when he was little. For nearly a week now, every so often, he asks about the toy and the little boy. My gift came early this year, with my three having the true spirit of Christmas.

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