The Christmas Carol Project

***If you can only pay through this website that is still beautiful and we will joyously accept!***

The Ask:
Many friends and family have explained they feel helpless during this grieving process; Where do we place the hurt? Where can we find space to honor Carol Schiavone? How can I support those left behind?  Is there a way to get closure?

Truthfully, we are still navigating what these questions look like in our heads and hearts, and after receiving many thoughtful but impossible questions like these, the Aron-Schiavone family would like to offer some semblance of an answer and a path forward during this giving season: The Christmas Carol Project.

I have reached out to The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project--- a nonprofit in DC whose mission is to offer children experiencing homelessness therapeutic playtime and individualized care---to partner with them on a project...but we need  your help! We are asking The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project to make a list of the playtime toys, supplies, and tools the children at their shelter are specifically wanting this holiday season, in order to best support them in the ways they feel are most meaningful and important. We are developing The Christmas Carol Project, collecting donations to purchase the specific toys and gifts the kiddos are asking for this year that otherwise would not be able to be gifted to them.

This project combines two of Mom’s fiercest beliefs: the belief that  regardless of the circumstance a child was in, they had an unalienable right to enjoy a childhood, and her unwavering belief in the magic of Christmas. She was grateful to know there were spaces created within our world that were devoted to ensuring that children were able to play and feel their age, without the weight of their challenging, adult circumstances. Christmas was Mom’s favorite holiday, and growing up, she strove to make the spirit of giving and the magic of Santa come alive for us.  (If you are so inclined, there is a longer section at the bottom of this page where you can read stories of mom's holiday spirit and magic.)

The Timeline:
The Twelve Days of Christmas: we have twelve days to make this magic happen.  One of mom’s favorite traditions was the Twelve Days of Christmas. The stockings she so lovingly began crafting for each of us twenty five years ago were used every day between December 12th, and the 24th, to host little trinkets: hershey kisses and new colored pencils, watercolor packs from the dollar tree paired with a new tube of toothpaste she got for free as a sample in Walmart. We are striving to raise $1500 have twelve days so that we can purchase the gifts for which the kiddos are asking. The project will run between December 10th, and December 22rd (mom and dad's 26th wedding anniversary), during which time we are grateful for your generosity in donating to our Christmas Carol Project--any amount can go a long way. We also ask that you please spread the word to any friends, family, church groups, or organizations who you believe would want to help us in this gift of care. We are closing this campaign on 11:59 pm 12/22, so that we can spend the following two days making sure we have all the correct toy, supplies, and gift-needs met for the kids in time for Christmas Day.

Throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas, Mom was very careful to fill the stockings with a couple gifts every day-- rarely getting caught in the act. Although when she did get caught in the act, I remember rolling around on the couch, tickling her, both of us laughing until we cried, with her clutching the stocking, hidden under her sweatshirt, my hoping that she would admit to stuffing the stocking and being Santa: an age-old goal I have been pursuing since I was six, and yet a goal that I have never attained. I still cannot confirm that it was Mom, and not Santa, every year of my life. The children at the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project shelter have had to lose a lot of innocent faith and belief over the years-- if we can regift some belief in human kindness, a little thoughtful magic, and maybe even give them a kernel of hope that Santa exists and hears them-- or that a group of people who will never be known, care for them and hear them, what a beautiful Christmas that would be.

The goal of this project is not to fill the void-- it is to honor it-- it is to celebrate the space that was held by Mom, and that we will continue to hold for her, for all the stories she carefully wrote with our family and the pain of knowing a future with her is lost.

As I write this message, it is snowing outside, and I am filled with belief that  this is the path to take this holiday season for our family.Thank you all for your care, generosity, and support of honoring Mom’s legacy in this way during the holiday season, and helping to support and care for us so that we can strive to honor her legacy every day.

More to the Story:
One of the largest spaces that mom chose to vibrantly fill was that of Christmas. Mom was born two days after Christmas, and was accordingly named Christmas “Carol” by her parents. Since then, Christmas has been mom’s holiday of joy. When mom found out that she was pregnant with her first daughter, that day, she began to cross stitch a Christmas stocking and decorate it intricately; she continued this tradition for the other members of her family. During mom’s last week, we hung the stockings and Christmas lights along the mantle where she could see them and Drea said “Christmas came early, mom!” to which mom opened her eyes, smiled; she loved it. For those of you who had the blessing of ever being driven home from school during a childhood carpool from October-February, you will remember that mom would play Christmas songs and not let you swap out her Bing Crosby Christmas Hits album for any non-Christmas playlist, despite your begging. The last two years of mom’s life, the sole purpose of her ipad (other than playing solitaire competitively against herself) was to play Christmas music nonstop, night and day.  Mom decorated the tree every year with us, until she was physically unable, at which point, you better believe she knew how to command the room from the couch, reminding us to not let two of the same colored christmas bulb be next to each other on the same string, or was quick to let us know that the fake snow (cotton) wasn’t pushed closely enough against her childhood snow-scene figurines to be “believable.”

Ultimately, it all goes back to belief, doesn’t it? I want to take a moment to share with you some of mom’s steadfast beliefs.

Mom believed in creating human magic-- going so far out of your way to create--with no strings attached, no expectation of reciprocity or acknowledgment-- to give, to seek out what is wanted and needed in someone else’s moment, for the simple potential-- not promise-- that someone might end up believing in, and feeling, human kindness.  Mom believed in the heart of Christmas: hospitality, true care, and snuggling by the fire. My designated lullabies, year round, were Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and Frosty the Snow-girl (you better believe that mom never missed an opportunity to remind her daughters of her strong feminist beliefs).

Mom loved the Christmas tree. Sometimes, I would come downstairs at night and see her sitting under the pine branches, her eyes closed.

For all these reasons, and an infinite number more, Christmas time is going to feel unbelievably hurtful and empty for our new, Earth-family of three. Please help us create a little magic this holiday season.
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Dani A-s 
Algonquin Hills, VA
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