Hi ,

It's 2018! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that your new year is off to an amazing start. I am so, so grateful for you, and I can't wait to see what this year holds for all of us.

Today's giving update is a little bit different (if you're new to these updates, you can catch up here!)

Late last week, we said goodbye to my grandfather, Ray, after a long battle with cancer. He was and will forever be one of my very favorite people.

This month, we've decided to direct our company giving to my grandfather's local food bank with a gift in his honor.

Annnnd, ok. Honestly, I've been sitting here trying to find words for twenty minutes now. I feel like I should have some great transition to get us from the sad bits to the happier ones (what's better than feeding people, right?) but to be honest, the words just aren't coming this week. So instead, I'll leave you with something I wrote down recently, just after I saw my grandpa for what would be the last time.

He'd probably tell me it was awfully corny to share this. I'd probably laugh and then do it anyway.

I'm back in NY after a week in Colorado, where we spent most of our time in a hospital and then, finally, at home with Grandpa while he moves through the very late stages of an aggressive cancer. We've known this was coming, but for me, at least, it still felt far away. Like we'd still have time.

And now suddenly - but also not-so-suddenly - here we are. We've pivoted, in a way, from buying time to biding time. From talking about cancer and drugs and doctors to telling stories and asking questions and squirreling away every detail - every memory - of a big, broad, beautiful life.

And it just sucks. It sucks to watch someone you love fall away from himself a little at a time. It sucks to watch my grandmother slowly and painfully say goodbye to a man she's loved her whole life. It sucks to know that I'll be back soon for a very different kind of visit. It sucks, it sucks, it sucks. And then, of course, at some point, it will suck even more. And later, it will still suck, but it will sting a little less.

It's in these moments - these hard and inevitable and just plain terrible moments - that I feel myself cling even more to stories. I brought my audio kit with me on this trip, and we recorded EVERYTHING. Mom, joking with her dad. Grandpa, telling us for the hundredth time about the day he and Grandma snuck off to New Mexico so they could get married after school (they were just teenagers!) more than 60 years ago. Grandma, laughing at her husband for "telling the story wrong."

These stories - these snippets of life in between all the sad and the scary - are the ones I know we'll want to hold onto. Not the hospitals and the doctors and the cancer talk and the general blergh-ness that is so thick with us right now. I know we'll want the happy bits. So I'll collect them, quietly, while everything else swirls heavy around us. Someday, I hope, I'll be able to share them.

In January, a portion of Life As A Strawberry's revenue will go to support the work of the Pueblo Cooperative Care Center in honor of Raymond Edward "Ray" Lewis.

The Cooperative Care Center is the largest emergency food service provider in the area, serving more than 36,000 people each year.

To view a complete list of the organizations we've supported and/or to make your own donations, click here.

, I just want to say thank you again from the bottom of my heart for reading this email, supporting Life As A Strawberry, and making it possible for us to give a little back each month.

YOU are the reason that I get to do a thing that I love every single day, and YOU are the reason that I'm able to take time off this month to be with my family while my business runs in the background. I will never be able to tell you how amazing and humbling it is to have that privilege, and to owe it all to the kindness and support of internet strangers-turned-friends.

I appreciate you to the moon and back.

To a happy and healthy new year,

If you’re not interested in learning about nonprofits working to end hunger and improve our food system, click here (you’ll still get the regular recipe emails!)

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