The Spirit of the Holidays

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By Paula Deen

It’s that time of year, y’all. Decorations are going up, cookies are in the oven, and gifts are waiting to be wrapped. But it’s also a time for hope, compassion and charity, something that’s kept me pretty busy this month.

Last year, my team and I started a new holiday tradition. Local students in one of the schools we help design Christmas cards. We pick our favorite and send them out to all our friends, and instead of sending them with Christmas gifts, make a donation to help feed those children. It’s probably one of the best ideas this team has ever had.

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This time of year, the American Red Cross is always in need of blood donations. That’s why we are happy to keep partnering with them for blood drives. Our blood drive last week collected over 200 units of blood, and since one unit of blood can help save 3 lives, that’s almost 600 lives!

Helping women and children is at my core, and I was honored to be the honoree at this year’s CHAIRity Fundraiser for the Safe Shelter of Savannah last Saturday. It’s so important that women have resources to help them and their children in times of crises, and the Safe Shelter does an excellent job helping them.

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And y’all, I still can’t wrap my mind around the devastation from Hurricane Sandy I saw this week, and how touched I was by all the volunteers at our food donations on Staten Island and in Long Island City. You just don’t get to see everything on TV, and let me tell you, these volunteers are all angels. I was so happy to be able to help out, even if it was just a small part. It’s through working with charitable organizations like the Helping Hungry Homes initiative and advocates like my friends at Smithfield and the UFCW that we can make a difference.

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So take a minute from all your running around this month. It will be ok if the decorations aren’t all up right on December 1st, or that the cookies are a little extra crunchy, or you just couldn’t get that one gift your loved one so desperately wanted. Remember that there are so many others who won’t have those luxuries this year. Hug your families tight, count your blessings and say a prayer for all those in need. That’s what the real Christmas spirit is all about.

Visit City Harvest online to learn how to help provide relief from Hurricane Sandy.

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Reader Comments:

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Paula, I love you and all that your represent. I know that you will rise above any misfortunes and come out smelling like a rose. You wouldn't be were you are today if you were anything but a strong and honest person. Prayers go out to you and your family for nothing but the best in years to come. I am and will always remain, A Devoted Fan Nancy Ferguson (also raised a son as a single parent. hang in there

By Nancy Ferguson on July 19, 2013

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Paula,I've always been a fan,BUT,I am so disappointed about one of your recipes..Lighter Version Peanut Butter Cookies... My son is a Diabetic and he and I were so excited about him getting hopefully cookies. They were terrible.So crumbly you couldn't pick them up! I won't be trying anymore of the Recipes.sO DISAPPOINTED IN PAULA.

By Judy Lake on December 26, 2012

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Following what was otherwise a wonderful trip to Georgia we wanted to bring home some of the amazing food, so we bought Paula Deen's sweet potato biscuit mix in a package. What anyone had neglected to tell us was that the only thing included was flour, sugar, and baking powder. My family could not have been more disappointed. We thought we were brining home a souvenir, but really all we were bringing home to Canada was a bag of flour. WHY WHY PAULA why why why.

By Alex and Andrea on December 25, 2012

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Hi Paula, I just watched your wonderful special featuring the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Loved the elves, but missed seeing your grandchildren and Brooke.

By Lori on December 17, 2012

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Paula the things you and your family do for folks are so heart warming..we are in such dire need of things this season.very sick husband an taking care of gran daughter on very fixed budget is most stressfull.Christmas will be tough for us..the things you all do for folks just warms my heart an soul knowing people like you are there to help so many in need.you are surely an angel.love watchin you guys! may you an your family be blessed for all you do..Hope the coming year brings much health an happiness to all of you ...God Bless

By deeunder on December 12, 2012

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From on grandma to another. Thank you so much for sending that card to my grandson Case Jackson. He received it today and He was SOOOOOO thrilled. He is such a great kid and it was so wonderful that you took the time to give him something so special. Love and blessings, Mari Peters

By Mari Peters on December 09, 2012

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HI MISS PAULA I THINK WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS SUCH A WONDERFUL THING THE FIRST TIME I SAW YOUR SHOW YOU TOUCHED MY HEART YOUR VOICE IS SO SOFT AND FRIENDLY AND YOU HAVE SUCH A NICE SMILE MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THIS CHRISTMAS AND MAY THE NEW YEAR BE FILLED WITH LOVE AND HEALTH

By ANNA MILES on December 07, 2012

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I am very greatful for my family. Have been diagnosed with MS going on 2 years now, thank God daily trhat I am still here and can walk and still work, and do things for and with my family. Life takes a different perspective with a life changing disease. very greatful for everyday.

By Guyla Nelson on December 07, 2012

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Hi my name is wendi becker. I'm deaf. I always watch it foodtv. So good : ) Thanks have good day god bless you!

By Wendi on December 07, 2012

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Dear family: Merry Xmas, may baby Jesus brings to you and your family as much LOVE, HOPE, GOOD TIMES and good recipes as you bring to us. There is a DEEN hour at home and no mater what ...you are with us for at leat that houe, may God bless you, from a cuban mother to a ZGeorgia mothe, kisses

By aurora ron on December 07, 2012

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You know I am so grateful for my 6 kids, 15 grandchildren and my 9 great grands a 1 great great grand. Not too shabby for a 62 year old lady. I am so thankful I have been blessed with them all.But 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 4 great-grands are biological. So you see why I am so blessed and most will be at my house Christmas Eve. OH and so very thankful you are in my life sort of. MERRY CHRISTMAS Paula from our home to yours

By Patty deCheubel on December 07, 2012

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Paula it is so refreshing to see someone giving back the way you do.... some people get to big for their britches and forget where they come from , but not you, your such a inspiration to us all........ <3

By Kerry Daniel on December 07, 2012

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Paula, It has been a rough year for me with the passing of my beloved father right before Christmas last year and my husbands diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy and failing eyesight. Needless to say it has been a struggle. But I know there are a lot of others out there that have far worse problems than me. I am thankful for my health which allows me to work which is another thing I am thankful for - my job. I am thankful for my children and grandchildren. And I am thankful that I have a warm house to come home to at the end of the day. I am thinking of the survivors of hurricane Sandy this holiday season as well as my father and my heart just breaks. I know that because of people like you their day is a little brighter. Thank you.

By Lisa Luckring on December 07, 2012

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Paula, I love watching your t.v cooking shows with ur husband and sons are are awesome. HOPE your family has a Merry Christmas this year. I'm not been very sick this year and loss one of my jobs so my children and grand children aren't having gifts from me this year the children will understand stand but but my grands i know prayers for me please. GOD BLESS, KAREN

By karen stephens on December 07, 2012

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen
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Cindy Edwards
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 7:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm