On a Personal Note:  Holiday Gratitude

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude

Good Morning, Good Morning. I don’t normally get all warm and fuzzy on the blog. But, my birthday was this weekend and Christmas has me feeling a bit sentimental. So, please bear with me today as I get a bit personal and give some love back to some friends and community members who made my birthday, and our Christmas holiday, a bit more special.

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude 1

I don’t know how many of you have celebrated a birthday or special occasion here in Love City. But, if you have, you likely understand the love in the air I’m about to describe. This community has a way of making you feel very special in a big kind of way!

Teddy, who deserves a huge thanks for not only giving me the day off but also for taking the day off with me, arranged for us to have dinner at Dave & Jerry’s Island Steakhouse on the evening of my birthday. On Friday afternoon, I received notifications on Facebook that Will, bar tender extraordinaire, had developed a drink special for the evening named after yours truly. It was an absolutely divine way to end a perfect steak dinner as we opted for the espresso martini with white chocolate and banana espresso foam in lieu of dessert.

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude 2
The Bonner Nanner Bonanza!

Throughout the evening, Jerry Lee Mace, part-owner of the restaurant, had been hanging with us on and off as he checked on the progress of our meal and engaged us in polite conversation. As we made ready to leave, stuffed and satisfied from an incredible meal, Teddy asked will for the check. The “bill” we received was not a check, however. But instead, a happy birthday note from the restaurant. Jerry had comped our entire meal!

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude 3
Dinner did not disappoint! And the birthday note in lieu of a bill moved me to tears!

I want to also mention a few other things about Jerry and the Island Steakhouse. During the early days of COVID, they immediately jumped to the helm of food drives, donations and take-out variations. This Christmas, Jerry also raised funds for the Catholic Charities Food Pantry on St. John. Via a gift card donation program, the restaurant raised $1000 from outside supporters and then matched that amount in a $2000 check for the charity that runs the only “soup kitchen” and donation drop off site on island.

Later in the weekend, Dulce Vita Sails gave us a free day on the water. I reached out to Dulce, owner and operator of the sailing Catamaran, to book the boat for the day and she adamantly refused payment from us and our group of friends that wanted to spend a day celebrating, instead of working, on the water. You might also remember my mention of her and her new business in the fundraiser for the Carolina Corral earlier this year.

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude 4
Vita, in all of here glory, gave us a beautiful day on the water for the holidays!

And, lastly, this one is a big one…

I would imagine that most of you do not know this, but I moved out of my home of six years in July. I had hoped that finding a “new to me” studio or one bedroom wouldn’t be impossible when we returned from Grenada in October. I had hoped that with nine years of friendships, connections and community members behind me that I would be able to find a new space, a clean slate, a new beginning when we returned. But, I underestimated the drastic climate of the long-term housing market here in Love City. And, three months into the hunt, we still are searching for a land-based dwelling. We have the boat, and I am SO grateful to Teddy for opening Asante to me as a full-time home over the past few months instead of the part-time home that we had both planned for this season.

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude 5
However, a few weeks ago, an old friend, Sue, who I know from the days of relief and rebuild work after Hurricane Irma reached out to me. I had posted a picture of my dog, Chewy, who is still currently in the states with my parents. Patiently awaiting his departure from the snow to the lower latitudes that he is used to. Sue saw the picture and sent me a message asking where he was. I responded, explaining my situation, and she immediately said, “Well, my rental is open over Christmas. Would you like to stay there as my guest?”

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude 6
Giving up gratitude for our Christmas views <3

I was beside myself in tears. What an incredible offer. Not just a home for Christmas but a nicer place than I’ll likely ever find as a long term rental here on St. John. Air conditioning, a pool, an incredible view, an actual stand-up shower (boat things 🙂 ), consistent wi-fi, walking distance to town (easy access to the boat during this busy time!), an incredible kitchen and an eye on the water while I work and write these posts each morning.

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We have been here since Saturday, and I cannot thank her enough for blocking off this beautiful space for us instead of attempting a last-minute booking…Giving Teddy and I a home for the holidays to relax, do some baking and enjoy a spectacular Christmas staycation here at Sunsets & Serenity at Lavendar Hill.

On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude 8
Christmas Cookie baking starts tomorrow!

A bit more about Sue….she started a group called St. John Kids after Irma and successfully matched 250 kids on island with families in the states who provided short term relief essentials and, for some of them, long-term assistance. She reached out to me as we were getting the rebuild program together and alerted me to a family who was not in a good place with their living situation in a storm damaged home. We got them into the program and I was able to connect them with an Air BnB donated short term rental for the Christmas holiday. A splendid place to spend Christmas for the single mother and her three children. I guess everything, weirdly, comes full circle.

I want to point out that in all three of these circumstances of amazing birthday and holiday generosity, not one of them is secular. All three of these individuals have not only gone out of their way to make me feel special and cared for this week. But they all have also given back to this community at different points in time. Their small acts of kindness towards me are perhaps not nearly as selfless as their previous and ongoing attempts at community support here on St. John. And, although, this post may be a bit selfish on my end and a way to say thank you. I believe, especially during this time of year, it is important to shine a light on the kindness and generosity of business owners here, and everywhere, who keep their eyes on the needs of the community and attempt to support it.

This holiday season, please take a look at this list of non-profit organizations on St. John and consider a small donation in support of the beautification, preservation and progress of Love City. Happy Holidays all! And thank you for bearing with me while I give thanks for these kindnesses. I don’t have a thing to give back in the way of a meal, a home or a boat day…But I can write about it. And hope that it sparks a sense of giving in each and every one of us during this week of generosity, love and family.

5 thoughts on “On a Personal Note: Holiday Gratitude”

  1. Happy belated birthday Hillary. We are grateful to you for the information and news and updates you provide us, many of whom are past residents and left our hearts in Love City.

  2. Thanks Hillary for a very uplifting and feel good story about the generosity and goodness of the people of Love City! Happy belayed birthday too!

  3. i love your sentimentality coming through here. we are feeling very connected to St. John right now, having just this morning been able to make reservations for March at the newly rehabbed Cinnamon Bay Campground! it ties right into the two weeks we’re booked at Harbor View. where@s the Island Steak House, please?

  4. What a beautiful article! Thank you for taking the time to spotlight these companies & individuals for their kind works. It is a breath of fresh air to hear positive and uplifting acts of kindness in the media! Please do more.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

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