An Unreasonable Goal

The solstice passed the other day, surrounded by days of darkness…the darkest days there will be all year. The night sky was marked, at least in this hemisphere, with nights where the trio of sister stars who make up Orion’s belt all align with the great Northern Star, and together, they remarkably point at the place on the horizon where the sun will rise in the morning – if you can see it though the snow, which I bet a lot of us can’t.

I learned to look for it in Girl Guides, and I remember Brown Owl shining a flashlight into the frigid winter sky, showing us the starmap. I went back home that night and lay in my bed and thought about what an incredible thing that must have been, back in the times when you didn’t know that the there is always a return of the light, that regardless of human effort or failures, the longest night always ends. I imagine hundreds of years of humans, camped coldly in the dark, watching the spot the starts showed them, hoping for sunrise and the return of the light.

This season has been like that for me. I feel like I have to “do something” to ensure the return of the light in my extended family. Some rite, some ritual, maybe a knitted hat or socks for everyone, maybe a sheet of cookies. I have even borrowed a technique from my friend Denny, who reaches out hardest and gives the most to those that she feels no love for- erasing hurt feelings and harm with generosity and kindness. Rising above. Being the Change. (I’m sure you all know that one. If you can’t get what you want, you can at least be the more noble being.) I feel somehow, that if I do all of this right, then happiness will be assured for all. It turns out, and I feel bad saying it out loud, but it’s just not true. You can do everything right, and even make the best meringues you ever had (which I did. They’re totally awesome) and things can still be unsure, scary or sad. This has bothered me. I’m a pretty effective go-getter of a person, and I do not care for things that are out of my control at all. I am also pretty alarmed by turns of events that can’t be repaired with excellent baked goods.

The other night, during the solstice, I went to this annual show that Joe and I always go to. It’s the Skydiggers Christmas concert and somehow if I didn’t spend that evening every year with my friend Andy, then it wouldn’t be Christmas. We took Rachel H. with us, and we went down there in the cold and the snow and stood at the sold out show with everybody else, and I found my Christmas. I found a little of it when they played “Hello Beautiful Life” (anybody at the Toronto Launch last year will remember that one – the rest of you can listen here. Right sidebar.) I found a lot of it when Andy played the trumpet, but most of it I found in a one liner that Andy tossed out into the audience. It was just a few words, but it changed everything. Everything I felt about the uncertainty of the next year, about money and jobs and family and lost souls and jobs all melted the minute he said it, and it has stayed with me for days and days – my new mantra for this season and the coming year.

Andy said “As we head off into a year of uncertainty, there is one thing I know is true. Things will be better if we all take care of each other than they will be if we don’t take care of each other.”

My house is warm. This morning, my lucky kids have presents. I have presents, and we’re having a great big breakfast. (To be followed later by more presents and a great big dinner.) No matter how bad things get here, we will not be competing with 98% of the world for misery. Having trouble finding the money for car or washing machine repairs is a luxury. Having loved ones to miss speaks to the great gift of loving and having been loved. My children did not miss a single meal this year. We didn’t flee from a war, we didn’t need medical help and not get it. We have a computer and an internet connection, for crying out loud. The fact that I bought any yarn at all, even if it had been a single ball (which it so wasn’t. I cop to that.) means I had extra money. I have people to take care of, and people who take care of me.

Tonight, when my knitting is done and my family is all together, I’ll look up at the winter sky… find the North Star and check our money again. I’m sure that as we celebrate with an abundance of food, shelter, love and gifts, that I can extend Andy’s thought to all the people on the earth, not just continue to give more to the ones who are already wealthy by comparison. This time next year I probably won’t even remember the pinch I feel as I give it now – which is pretty stunning, because even one dollar can save someone else’s child if I give it to MSF – and I bet that this time next year, they’ll remember that.

In the spirit of taking care of each other…on the day of a wonderful time for many of us – when we will celebrate with an excess of food and gifts that is unimaginable to much of the rest of our human family, I have decided to do something that people have been urging me to do for months. I’m setting a new goal for Knitters Without Borders.

I’m making it One Million Dollars… which seems not just impossible to me, but barking mad. Insane. Crazy talk from the crazy people. (I remember when knitters had raised ten thousand dollars, and everyone was beside themselves with joy. Us…. MSF… everyone. I can’t believe I’m even opening the door to this possibility. If we do it… well. I have no response for if we do it. I don’t even know what I would do to celebrate.)

I know that this is a lot of money. I’m not completely nuts naive… but to me Andy’s statement has become like the constellations pointing toward the place where the sun will rise after the longest night. Taking care of each other is simple. It’s easy. It’s sharing, and we all learned to do that as toddlers. I think we can do it if we all just take care of each other so things will be better. There are 50 million of us in North America alone. Surely that’s enough.

I really think we can do it.

Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Blessed be. Namaste. Happy Chanukkah. As-Salฤmu `Alaykum.


212 thoughts on “An Unreasonable Goal

  1. You are a wise and kind woman. Namaste.
    I included MSF in my United Way contribution again, so that’s another 60 bucks for 2009.

  2. Dearest Stephanie,
    I hold you up as an example whenever I start talking to people about insane possibilities. There is talk of doubt and I say, “Well, let me tell you about Stephanie……”. This too will come to pass. Just believe!
    Love and Blessings,

  3. On Tuesday a co-worker and I were talking about what we would do if we won the lottery. It was a pleasant conversation, full of charitable giving, home remodeling, yarn,8 burner stoves and walk-in refrigerators.
    And then I said it. The conversation killer. I said, “Well, when you think about it, we already have won the lottery. We have wonderful homes, terrific families, really great jobs, health care, dental care, we aren’t hungry, we aren’t cold, and probably have more yarn than we can knit in a lifetime. We’ve already won the lottery. So now I guess we should stop and ask ourselves if we’re doing everything we want to do with our winnings.
    That day I made a contribution to a school in Haiti that needs textbooks. But in January I will put some of my “lottery winnings” towards Knitters Without Borders.
    Dog Bless, and may your New Year be filled with health, happiness, and maybe a ball of yarn.

  4. Thank you for this post. To say that it is moving and insightful is an understatement, but it’s the best I can do.
    Blessings to you and your family.

  5. You’re right, we are all fortunate indeed. When the greatest hardship faced here recently is a shortage of caffeine due to excessive snow then there is indeed much to be thankful for. Bill and Ted summed it up, although not so eloquently as you, when they said, “Be excellent to each other”. You’ve been personally responsible for uniting many knitters, and therefore creating friendships between people who might have otherwise have gone through life never meeting. In addition to the camaradarie you’ve instilled, you have also kicked butt with the MSF. I’m off to contribute now. Thank you for making the world nicer ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I know I ‘m not going to hear a better homily at Church today. Thank you Steph. And Merry Christmas.

  7. Yes, WE can.
    (I’m from Germany but actually we also believe we can change the world and be caring for others…)
    Great post and we’ll reach the goal…
    Before 1st of July.

  8. We can do it. And I’m betting that we will get it completely done in 2009. For those of us who haven’t been paying attention, would you tell us how we contribute to KWB? Thanks and Merry Merry Christmas.

  9. Thank you for making the world a better place. Our contribution went in the envelope this morning and will be out in the mail tomorrow. Your writings never fail to amuse or inspire. You have a great gift.

  10. Bless you, Stephanie, for always reaching toward what is the best in us. And I bet we’ll make that goal.

  11. Peace throughout the world, not just on a couple of days of the year. If we all did one kind thing each day we could make this a better place to live. There is too much suffering of all kinds, including hurt feelings.

  12. You are so right. This year myself and all 4 of my sisters and my dad donated to charities. Each to the one most meaningful to them (MSF was my choice). We were all very blessed this year and none of us want for anything. Having gratitude is a wonderful thing and MSF is a wonderful organization. Thank you for your inspiration and I KNOW you will reach your goal.

  13. Knowing knitters, we will do our best to reach that goal!! I love what Andy said. It is the way the world should be run. Everywhere, everyone taking care of each other. Thank you Stephanie, for introducing me to MSF, so I can help care for people who are in such need. s

  14. The buddha said “a thousand candles can be lighted from a single candle and the light of that candle will not be diminished. Happiness (and plenty) does not diminish when shared.” I try to remember how much I have and to support the causes that help others have enough to live.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  15. Thank you Stephanie, for once again putting things in perspective, and thank you for sharing Andy’s wise words. It’s so easy to get caught up and forget how fortunate we truly are. I think a million dollars in definitely an achievable goal.
    There is a song Nancy LaMott sings called “We Can Be Kind”. The lyrics for the chorus are: “We can be kind, we can take care of each other, we can remember that deep down inside we all need the same thing, and maybe we’ll find, if we are there for each other, that together we’ll weather whatever tomorrow may bring.” It’s a song with a message thatI have frequently quoted to my children as they have grown. Your post made me think of the song. Peace.

  16. What a beautiful post. So inspiring. Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Last March, when I read that you were going to walk those 14 kilometers to get toilet paper and beer, I was horrified (well, beer OK). It was a wilderness out there. Anything could happen to you. But I did not comment. I felt so guilty the next day for not speaking up. When you came to Colorado and spoke at the Tattered Cover, you mentioned again how we all just let you hike out. I slid down in my chair and hid behind my knitting.
    Then this holiday season, when once again your got your schedule, put your head down and worked through it even with the Mr. Washie thing, the remarks of teenage daughters to their mothers, Joe’s truck and all, it dawned on me. We all think you can do anything, and never doubt the goals you set.
    So if you say we’re going to raise $1million, you are not barking mad. Stephanie, you are a rock star. I will be donating too.
    Peace to you.

  17. I’m in! And we absolutely can do it, I know we can. Stephanie, I wish you and your family peace and an abundance of love and joy. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us!

  18. Stephanie,
    Your challenge last December touched me in a way that few others have. In December 2008, I started contributing to Doctors Without Borders and have continued to do so monthly ever since. I have not reported in. Indeed, I am not certain of the total, and won’t be until it’s time to do taxes.
    I will say that it is a great deal more than I would have given without your urging. Thank you for that.

  19. Stephanie,
    We are indeed fortunate! And, this year, I will increase my contribution not because I am wealthy … because I have enough to care for myself… but because we need to care for one another…

  20. I teared up reading the post. Thank you to Andy for such a beautiful sentiment, and thank you, Steph, for sharing it with us.

  21. You broke me down, Steph. I’ve signed up to give a small amount each month, which will make a nice total for the year.
    Andy’s thought for the day should be etched into all our mirrors, so we see it each day when we brush our teeth.
    Merry Christmas, and may your year be filled with love and happiness. Or, as my people say, “Fleece Navidad.”

  22. Blessed Holiday season to you! That’s a wonderful sentiment from Andy. And a great entry from you.
    And wow, one million dollars!? I’ll be if anyone can do it, it’s Knitters ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. it’s so funny how just putting a thought out there into the atmosphere causes a shift, a shift in thinking… in doing… in being. (just last week i looked at the MSF total in your sidebar and thought to myself, “hm. i bet that reaches a million!”)and now you have put the possibility out into the universe! the gauntlet is down and be it ours, the cause to champion!

  24. Hi Steph – I’ve just made my donation for Knitters Without Borders for this year. Your writing is stirring. I’ve always been a firm believer that no matter how strapped I might feel, I always have a lot. I’ve almost always had a car, my kids have always had clothes and food, and I have a nice house to live in. I work in retail and my husband and I have our own small business in the auto industry so while this may be a very trying time for us we still have more than others.

  25. It’s been said before this year but “yes we can”. Thanks for Andy’s statement, I think I will find it something to remember in the coming year. Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

  26. Steph:
    Your column reminded me of a favorite story, from Vietnam, about the difference between heaven and hell. In hell, people sit around large pots of bubbling, delicious food. They’re all starving, though, because their only chopsticks are three feet long, and you can’t feed yourself with three foot long chopsticks.
    In heaven, people also sit around large pots of bubbling, delicious food. They’ve also been given three foot long chopsticks. But in heaven, people are all well fed.
    The difference, is in hell, people try to feed themselves. In heaven, they feed each other.
    Merry Christmas.

  27. I was wondering when you were going to go for the million ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll definitely pitch in again too… it’s an awesome goal, and I do think it can happen! Merry Christmas to you and yours – thanks for making me think about stuff like this more often ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Beautiful post, Stephanie. I believe it resonates with all of us at the end of this dark tunnel of a year (decade?).
    I also believe in the power of an ambitious goal. Yes, we can and we will. Thank you for knowing we can set the bar this high.

  29. What a wonderful post. Thank you. I try and stay grateful everyday, but you put into words what I strive for. Thank you.
    Where do I send my donation?

  30. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much. And your challenge will be met far more quickly than any of us believe, I suspect! I will be signing up to make a regular monthly donation next month as well.
    Love in action. It’s amazing how powerful it can be.

  31. two cents. that’s what one million dollars is if you divide it amongst 50 million people.
    this is one time when everyone can put in their two cents, and it will REALLY amount to a heck of a lot, and make a very big difference.
    encourage everyone to put in their two cents, steph. and then some. that’s what i’m going to do.
    *love, which everyone needs*

  32. I am in. Doubling my annual donation. Will confirm par email as soon as the giving thing accepts to work for me!
    Huge xo’s and best wishes. Love

  33. Stephanie, thank you for a year of humor, knitting, and above all a reality check to end all! You are right, we have our health, we have each other, we have our yarn, we have a roof over our heads and food in the pantry, we have a family who loves us and one we love back.
    Thanks again for the all that you are and I look forward to another year of the Harlot…

  34. Thanks, Steph, I needed that today. To echo an earlier comment, that was the best homily I’ve heard in awhile.
    Merry/Happy whatever everybody!

  35. I visited your blog this evening, not expecting to see a new entry, but what you wrote, about all of us taking care of each other, touched me in a way that I cannot explain and I will remember it throughout the coming year. Thank you, Stephanie, for your wisdom and inspiration…

  36. Andy is right. Those who have can help those who don’t, doesn’t have to be much, $1, $5, some time, just do it.
    Due to an ice storm we did 11 days without power (Dec 11-22)due to an ice storm here in New England, but we had wood heat, water, food, even facilities. So Christmas was rushed, but we have everything, especially love, which means so much, and it can be very simple.
    I’m paying it forward during this season by sending a couple meals with my daughter for my (currently single and struggling)ex to heat up while our DD (and his two sons) are with him over the weekend.
    KWB will also be getting some of my “lottery winnings” to borrow the very appropriate phrase from Aiden.
    Warmest of Holiday Wishes to you and yours, today, and for the coming year.

  37. Ditto and double ditto.
    And thank you. I am very pleased (in a strangely proud Canadian kind of way), to note that you are indeed someone with the kind of power that can influence people, and you have chosen to use it for good. It makes you a very special individual.
    Merry Xmas.

  38. Thanks to this post, dear YH, I have added a bit toward your goal (see email as per instructions and my blog!) Merry Christmas.

  39. Of course we can do this. As soon as my visa has recovered from Christmas shopping I’ll put it to good use for Knitters Without Borders.

  40. I’m printing Andy’s words out and hanging them here by my computer where I can see them every day.
    Thanks for finding the voice for something I feel strongly.
    And Happy Holidays.

  41. Thank you for causing us to stop and think about what’s really important. Now, with the ball in our court, we must evaluate, and assess, and most importantly, act.
    My best to you and yours through the new year.

  42. Your blog is always entertaining to read, but you also throw out lots of inspiration. This entry was one that touched something inside me, and I have shared it with lots of friends. I love your willingness to listen to your heart, to stretch, and to follow that inner call even when it seems “insane.” Thank you for setting the example! And thank you for your dedication to post on a regualr basis! Blessings to you!

  43. Thank you for an especially lovely post that really puts the holiday season in perspective.
    I’m writing my cheque to MSF now — weeks after I said I would, so I’ll be adding a bit of “interest”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love the new goal, and I know we knitters can most definitely meet — and exceed — the million-dollar mark!

  44. You know I just read your blog and it gave me a new hope for life. My husband has lost his job, we are trying to take care of his very ill father, I was sexually assaulted a few months ago and we are having problems with my teenage son. For some reason after reading you blog today it makes me realize I am still a lucky person.

  45. Thank you for the wonderful post – so inspirational.
    Love that you set such a ‘crazy’ goal – it’s what prompted me to donate.

  46. Beautiful post, Stephanie. Have a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family, and thanks for setting a new goal for us.
    We can do it!

  47. Stephanie, I always read your post, but never remark because I am sure you always get lots of comments and not enough time to read them all.
    But, today I am commenting, for on this most glorious day of the year you have brought tears to my eyes. Tears of JOY! I am a single Mom, I work hard earning a good wage, but often find it difficult especially at Christmas. But you have made me realise how lucky I am to be able to give my 3 children presents, a fantastic turkey dinner, roof over our heads, warmth, clothing and all the necessities we could ever wish for and more.
    Thank you Stephanie for such a heartfelt message, and one which will stay with me for many years to come. All the best to you and your family at Christmas and the New Year!
    HUGS ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. If you’re still wondering or questioning yourself about stating that dollar amount, please know that I for one just wondered how long it would take you to realize we could. And will.

  49. thanks steph! There was a was an oped in the new york times recently about the differences in charitable giving between liberals and conservatives, and of varying income levels. While i’m sure your readers cover the spectrum, the message is similar. Change in the world starts with each of us, and we all need to spend in ways that build the kind of world we want.

  50. Harlot you are an inspiration! I made a donation and I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas. ONE MILLION here we come!

  51. Stephanie, you are an inspiration, and a bright star in the dark night! Thank you, and bless you for being the big, positive person you are. Big thoughts, big love, big words for many to heed. Thank you, thank you!

  52. Stephanie, you’re amazing. Thanks for a healthy dose of perspective on this Christmas day. We can totally hit your crazy (in a good way) goal.
    Peace to all…

  53. Merry Christmas,
    My husband passed away just last week, and found peace from a horrible trip through cancer’s nightmare. Thus, I understand some of your desire to hold back the “night.” We’ll be fine as long as we remember the “light” those we love left us.
    Peace to you and yours, and ours,

  54. We can raise one million dollars. We are already more than halfway there! And I totally agree with the sentiment. I always say that if everybody did whatever they are able to do, in their small corner of the world, the world would be a MUCH better place!

  55. “I really think we can do it.”
    To steal a phrase, of which I’ve become very fond: Yes. We. Can.
    I will if you all will! No. I will whether you all will or not!

  56. Stephanie — for the past two years, and this one too, my husband (also a knitter) and I have made charitable contributions in lieu of gifts for our friends and families, and this year, Knitters Without Borders is one of them (although I told my friends and relatives that it was Doctors Without Borders — I’m sure you understand). You are an inspiration to so many, with and without yarn. Happy New Year!

  57. Thanks for reminding me how blessed I am.
    Thanks for reminding me how I can bless others, and how that in itself is a huge blessing.
    Merry Christmas.

  58. Steph and all – I just wanted to share something from last year.
    I sent in a small amount, I don’t recall exactly now…but I shared the newsletters that came from MSF and my husband’s employer contributed $1000! Let’s all give a bit, but not forget to inform others of the good work done by MSF/DWB. I’ll be sure to send in a bit more too….

  59. Bless you, Stephanie. Blessings for all of us who care enough to DO something… anything… to make this world a little better for the least, the last and the lost. I’ll add my contribution – even if I am a crocheter (sorry – I just can’t get the hang of two sticks, despite the best efforts of my favorite aunt…) Now I’m going to go work on that afghan for the children’s shelter… six down, and who knows how many to go? Until we don’t need a children’s shelter anymore…

  60. You are indeed wise and kind, and honest. I wish I could be so. Many blessings be upon you, all of you, and everyone you touch. Blessed be, and best wishes for the holidays and the new year ahead.

  61. I, too, say amen to that, Stephanie.
    …and also why can’t we all also remember to think this way .Every. .Single. .Day. of our lives?? Try that, TOO, and watch the miracles begin to materialize around you everywhere… ask me how I know…

  62. Stephanie – Merry Christmas! I totally think we can do the million and it will really make a difference! Thank you for driving this. I wish your family a very merry Christmas.

  63. You bring tears of gratitude and hope to my eyes. I always try to remain truly grateful but reminders are always welcome.
    Thank you, and peace be upon you, too (the literal meaning of as’sallam-alaikum.)

  64. Thank you for the beautiful post. I believe I will be taking a page from Denny, thank you Denny, and rise above a sad and angry person at work and contribute to what she needs. Then give joyously to knitters without borders.
    Good goal, you should reach it with no problems.

  65. Some days, when I hear people complaining about their “lot in life,” as my grandma would say, I can’t help but think of the people who have so very much less. No matter what you have, you always have a bit to share. It may be that it’s not in the form of money. But you can always, always share.
    A wonderful woman once said, “We can all count the seeds in an apple. But who, among us, can count the apples in a seed?” I love that. What I do for someone may be paid forward. And, good heavens!, it may spread!

  66. I help run a food pantry, and a week or so ago one of our clients handed me a check donation–and I can’t forget her words. She said, “because I don’t need every little thing all the time.” It’s really made me rethink what I “need”. Thanks for a great post!

  67. Amen.
    Thank you for reminding me what really is important. We often forget. Donating to KWB will be on my New Years Resolution list.

  68. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you remind me of the goodness in humanity by bringing together so many people who see what they can do to make the world a better place. So thank you. (I spent much of this afternoon with my nose buried in Free Range Knitter and my dad said it must be quite a book to cause me to laugh out loud so often, so thanks for that as well.) I wish you a stellar 2009, and rock on the with Knitters Without Borders goal – I’m on it!

  69. We are so fortunate – there is nothing we really need and don’t have. Our family is rich in the thing that counts – love. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  70. And a peaceful Christmas to you as well!
    Wikimedia got me for my donation this am when I wikied no less than 5 times this morning.
    Email headed your way.

  71. If everyone would help someone else in any little (or big) way, we would soon have peace on earth. Contributing to MSF is one of the ways that I can do to help.
    The current times require us all to be alert to need in our world and communities. Things could get worse than all you young uns have seen before; but remember, we still have more than most.
    Stephanie, your love and caring for the world are an inspiration. How can you possibly doubt the ability to reach the magic million?
    May you and your family have a very Happy New Year.

  72. A million dollars? I think it’s definitely a reasonable goal – the current total is already more than halfway there. Sabine’s suggestion that it’s reached by July 1? Now _that’s_ a challenge!!

  73. As Dickens/Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, everyone.” Each dollar, each penny, helps. My contribution is going through tomorrow.

  74. All I can add to all these lovely messages, Steph, is wait until you open your KWB email box tomorrow…sounds like it is already overflowing ๐Ÿ™‚ Rock on, Knitters!!!

  75. I wish you and your family all the peace and happiness both during the holiday season and in 2009. Once I find a new job, have some steady $$ coming in, I will help MSF get to $1 million!

  76. Thanks, Steph–I’ve been having a similar crisis this year–where is the peace? Where is the joy? where is that rush of good feeling that has alwys hallmarked the season in my heart before? You gave it to me, just now, as I read. Writing is magical–I must never forget it. (And yes–a tiny contribution, but one indeed, will be going out from our home–I’ll e-mail you when we can make that happen.)

  77. Okay. Okay I’m gonna look at the money and I’m gonna tell you it won’t be much, but it’ll be something to add to the string of stitches that you knitters have already put together. It feels pretty good to join in.
    Hang in there, I know it will get better. I don’t advise going to see Marley and Me at this time though.

  78. Merry Xmas to you, our favorite harlot and to your family.
    BTW my dad would like to thank you for inspiring me to put myself on some kind of crazy schedule to finish his socks right on time for Xmas: he loves them…

  79. Hi Steph,
    This shouldn’t make me feel sad, but it does. MSF is a wonderful wonderful charity and I hope you make your goal. But they don’t go everywhere. They don’t go to a lot of places that don’t already have an infrastructure or a big well-publicized crisis. I’m glad that MSF, with its big corporation, is doing well. But… how can I put this without sounding whiny… be aware that some of those dollars being given to the big guys mean that our little organizations (yeah, I’m a little guy organization) don’t get the donations we need to keep our people alive and warm and fed. Sigh. I hope we ALL get a chance to help that 93% of the world. We’re doing our little bit over here and, what with it being a hard year, we’re a little desperate still. I hope knitters are wide in their generousity this year. Thanks for listening and for the work you’re doing.

  80. Now this is crazy, barking mad that I can get behind! I think we all knew that this was the number. It just took everyone (especially you) time to type it because it is such an impossibly huge number. Well, impossibly huge for some, but knitters are a special breed. We thrive on impossibly huge.

  81. I haven’t read through the other comments here tonight (I will save them to savour with my morning coffee) so perhaps it has already been said (and pardon me for stating the obvious), but here it is:
    One Million Dollars? That’s a terrific goal and totally doable. Dude!… in case you hadn’t done the math: We were more than halfway there already. And as of a couple of minutes ago, yet another $50 closer to the new goal.
    P.S. Joy – you’re $50 closer now too.

  82. Thank you. You’ve put something in perspective for me. I am a nurse and I had to work this holiday and I was feeling very sorry for myself because instead of being with my children I had to take care of others’ sick children. I am no longer complaining. I am blessed with happy HEALTHY children who had a wonderful Christmas even if I wasn’t there. And I HAVE A JOB, and it is a very good job, and I am very grateful for it because it helps feed us and shelter us and allows us some luxuries.
    So thank you for making me see how blessed I truly am. I hope I made today a little better for the children and their families I took care of in the emergency department. I tried very hard.
    Dorothy in Georgia

  83. Stephanie;
    After I had sent a private e-mail to an individual, reminding them that you will not be able to increase the amount donated by knitters if you do not know the amount they have donated, I then read through the rest of the comments.
    Please forgive me if I do not take on the task of keeping track of those who donate – to find out the amount they have contributed.
    Please can you tell everyone the process that is needed to reach the magical million dollar mark.

  84. Peace to you too. Thank you for reminding us all of the luck we have. Thank you for linking to Skydiggers, they are currently playing in my headphones and I’m loving it! Thank you for giving Andy’s words to us all, they will stay with me too. I’ve signed up with DWB to give a quarterly donation.
    We can totally make the million!!!

  85. As always, beautifully expressed and heartfelt. Thanks for taking on the big challenges and bringing us all together. (I knew when this discussion started back when you caught up with the database that this was where we were going to end up, and YES WE CAN!)
    Sent out my greetings this evening to a slew of friends and relatives (and copied you – subject being “A Holiday Wish”), and promised that if any of them donates and wins fiber or yarn in the sporadic karmic drawings, that I will make them something useful in thanks for their donation as well. Isn’t that the least I could offer for their generosity?
    If every good thing we do comes back to us, well, you’re going to have a lot of great stuff coming to you in the new year, my friend!
    Blessed be you and all your loved ones near and far.

  86. I can’t believe that you started your post talking about the Three Sisters! When I was little we boarded our horses in the barn of one of the most amazing women I had ever met. Her name was Edith. She was in her 80’s and was a tiny petite woman at slightly less than 5 feet tall, but she was extremely tough and rugged while still being a lady. She had no running water in her house, just a pump in the yard, so she carried all her own water. Walking into her house, and especially her parlor was like walking straight into history. She had a real parlor much like you would expect to see at the turn of the century (1900 LOL!) I think she and Tasha Tudor would have been great friends. One winter when I was maybe 8, we were at the barn taking care of the horses. It was very late, and it was a very, very cold, dark late December night. I’m a light junkie I must confess and I’ve always been that way since I was little. The short days of the year can be hard sometimes. I ran into Edith at the water pump and she asked me how I was. I told her I was ok but I really missed the sun. I told her that I thought sometimes the long dark nights just seem a little lonely. She looked up into the dark moonless night sky and told me that while she could understand how I might feel that way, she loved nights like this because she always had company. I was confused and asked her what she meant, I didn’t see any company at her house. She pointed out Orion’s belt which was very bright and said ” See those three stars all together? Those are the Three Sisters and they always come to visit me this time of year. They are always together and always keep each other company. You can’t see them when the days are long and the nights are short, but when the nights are cold and lonely, and seem like they’ll last forever, the Sisters come for a visit and keep me company. How can a person be scared and lonely if you have the Three Sisters up in the sky shining so brightly and always there to keep you company?” Needless to say, that worked for me! After that I always looked forward to the return of Orion and the Three Sisters. It’s my favorite constellation. Over the years I’ve heard other people talk about those stars and I always think of Edith. Thanks again for another inspirational post. I don’t think a million dollars is crazy. I’ll be happy to donate. Have fun looking at the stars.

  87. Thank you for this post. Just today, I was lamenting the short days and long nights. What a great reminder that the light will always return, and we have to take care of our fellow humans.
    My donation has been sent.

  88. What a lovely and thought provoking post. Peace and happiness to you. I’m off to count my blessings and kiss my babies.

  89. Today, for Christmas, I gave $50 to Kiva International. I had given a similar amount to DWB earlier in the month. So in a couple of months I’ll give to DWB again and throw a little in Heifer International’s direction. This all comes out of my “discretionary money” and is normally money I DON’T spend on those nice KnitPicks Options needles I want but don’t need. I’ve been wanting those needles for more than a year now but keep finding other places for it to go ๐Ÿ™‚
    Andy’s right – taking care of one another makes the world a much better place. Thanks for reminding us again and for setting a new goal. We all do better when we have a goal.
    Happy Boxing Day to you, Joe and your entire family. I hope you find a good lottery ticket to help with the car and Sir Washie’s rehabilitation.

  90. Most people wait until the New Year to make their resolutions, but you have chosen a far more appropriate day and set your sights on doing for others rather than for yourself. I think that was what the whole message behind the birth of that little baby in Bethlehem was supposed to be, now wasn’t it? Thanks for the reminder and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family and friends.

  91. Thank you very much for that wonderful inspiration. Andy’s words of wisdom will be on my screensaver for the rest of the year.
    Peace, love and joy to all.

  92. We are the princes and princesses of the world…albeit working princes and princesses for the most part. Thak you for all that you are and all that you give us in your wonderful posts. Peace.

  93. Boxing day seems to be the perfect day to donate instead of shop. Thank you for reminding me, Steph. I donated and sent the appropriate email.
    And for those of you who are new to this? Just click on the TWB logo off on the right side of the page or the FAQ right under it to find Dr. Harlot’s fine explanation of what to do and how to do it. Surely you didn’t think she would have left you without instructions, did you?

  94. You made me cry. And, made me even happier than I was that I sent what I could to MSF (for which you have sent me an e-mail thank you). You are truly an inspiration, a wonderful knitter, a compassionate friend, and a really good person. I wish you and yours a new year filled with good health, happy times & lots of knitting time……

  95. I was just looking at the sales when I read your post. You’re not barking; we are, for not giving more. I closed down every shopping cart and donated instead.

  96. I hope you said one million dollars with your pinky touching the side of your mouth. peace girlfriend.

  97. Blessed Be, Steph, what a brave, generous person you are to share so much of yourself, and work for the good things you think are important, just because it’s the right thing to do.
    A million dollars will be a piece of cake for this group of knitters. I will be pitching in.
    Oh, and dyepotgirl, thank you so much for Edith’s story of The Three Sisters! I have always felt something comforting in the constancy of Orion’s Belt in the sky over my head, and that story brought tears to my eyes!
    Blessed Be everyone, and peace to you all.

  98. Very nice post — and I’m in complete agreement. We all do need to be more mindful of looking out for each other and yes, I will be donating.
    Money was tight at our house this year. The $1,300 car repair bill in December sort of put the brakes on Christmas! My gift to myself was your book Free Range Knitter which I read yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks!

  99. I sat here just bawling because what you said really resonated with me. I grew up in an impoverished area and didn’t even see indoor plumbing until I was 5 and started school. I have gone without meals and wore hand-me-downs for most of my childhood. But I always had a family. Now, now I am even more blessed. Wonderful husband, four children, three grandchildren, in-laws, all healthy and working. My husband is laid off, some of my children have had their hours cut back at their jobs, but, we have each other, roofs over our heads, we celebrated Christmas, and even though this year we had a smaller pile of presents everyone kept talking about how great this Christmas was because…so much thought went into each present. We really thought about each other and what might give them joy instead of buying a huge pile of stuff for each person. I myself knit two pair of socks, two pair of mittens, and crocheted three hats and this is only the third year I’ve been knitting/crocheting. One of my daughters crocheted a lovely scarf. These presents were favorites even though they weren’t perfect because a lot of work and thought went into them. Our family did talk about how lucky we were, especially compared to so many in the world today, and I intend to keep up my donations to my favorite local charity, the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association, and I will also contribute to KWB for the first time. Bless you all.

  100. Good goal. We’ll get there. Thanks for the lovely post and the directions to great music, and Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the returning light reveal good things.

  101. To quote the end of a favourite of mine–Maya Angelou’s poem “Amazing Peace”:
    “Peace my brother
    Peace my sister
    Peace my soul.”
    A donation for $250 was donated to MSF on my behalf–my Christmas present from a loving husband.
    And your goal is not unreasonable at all–what will be fun is to see how quickly it is reached and maybe even surpassed!!
    Cheers and Merry Christmas/Boxing Day,
    Barbie O. in Montreal

  102. If knitters can make something wonderful out of strings and sticks, we can raise moeny for a good cause. Please give us the details on how to make the donations.

  103. I like your math. With 50 million people, and your new goal, everybody only has to give 2 cents. And I have yet to meet the person that won’t give their two cents, if asked.

  104. Have a wonderful New Year full of peace, love, yarn and good health!
    Check out the incredible socks at chevaliersocks.pdf They look like something you would love!

  105. The nice people at MSF called a few weeks ago and asked if I could up my monthly pledge by $3. Of course I could. I’ll be donating $120 in 2009.
    I have to say they were so thankful for this, it seemed such a small thing to ask and the returns are so high.

  106. Stephanie,
    Thank you for reminding me that I have so much for which to be thankful. I’m off to make a donation.

  107. Happy Holidays! I will do my part to help reach the million dollar challenge. Thank you for being an inspiration. peace

  108. Wow, what resonating words! I completely agree. I felt guilty earlier this week because last year I asked our family to make donations in our daughters name to World Vision, and my girls were happy. This year, I didn’t send word out in time, and they got all kinds of stuff. They are happy of course, although now I have to find room for their new toys (a major cull is in order), lots of garbage, and because of my husband’s recent paycut, we opted to skip our charitable donations this year, among other things. As a result, I did not donate to the last drive that saw half a million dollars raised.
    Well not this time! I got a $50 bill in my card from my Grandma, and it’s going to MSF. We abolutely must do whatever we can, without excuses. I am blessed, and thank you for helping me put it in perspective.

  109. Stephanie,
    The second Saturday in June is National Knit in Public Day (du!) as well as the first of a two day book festival being held in Shreveport, La. We would love to have you participate as a speeker as well as authur. If this holds any interest for you pleaase contact me at: or on my cell at 318 422 1827
    Thank you for your time,
    Peggy Svee

  110. I am passing along your friend Andy’s thoughts and some of yours to my best friend who is wallowing in the suckiness of her life at the moment.(trust me, if I had even two of the things she is dealing with on my plate I might wallow, too) You put things in such nice perspective. So, I am sending her a buoy of your thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.
    Also, thanks for the astronomy lesson!

  111. Beautifully said. And inspiring entries from commenters included Donna Lee (D25, 4:18p), Aidan (D25, 3:45p), Barb (D25, 5:01p), 2muchfun (D25, 9:54p) and Dyepotgirl (D26, 4:34a). Peace to all.

  112. You are always an inspiration, and I have to admit I am half way in love with Joe and I don’t even know him, just your perspective of him.
    I do believe that we will hit the million mark if not go over. I am a firm believer that God or if you prefer the Universe waits for us to set a goal and once we have started on a path opens up the way for us to reach that goal.
    May everyone have a great holiday and a fantastic new year.

  113. Dec. 26, Boxing Day
    Dear Stephanie,
    I wish you and your family as much peace and joy as you can manage on this sad first anniversay of Boxing Day without your Aunt Helen. My thoughts also go out to your Uncle Don, wishing him strength and courage.

  114. How is that goal unreasonable?!?! It is less than $440,00 to go. If we can knit 3 scarves of the same pattern for one Christmas, we can certainly give as much as we have given. What a good habit to be in.
    Many blessings to you and yours, looking to the future and grateful for where you have been.

  115. I am putting this here as a sort of public declaration. Although with 160+ comments (and probably still more to come) it will get buried and I suppose I could ignore it later. Anyway….
    I want to lose a pretty hefty amount of weight this year. I was thinking of what would keep me on goal when I start to waver. Reminding myself of all the health benefits and cute clothes I could wear does help, but not as much as feeling like I would let someone else down. (why is it so easy to let myself down? hmm..something else to work on in 2009). Again, anyway…
    I will give MSF $2 for each pound lost. When I reach my goal it will be a pretty good amount and but still one that I feel my family can afford to give to charity. I will send in the donations quarterly. It will be fun to see my “weight” go some where else.
    Here’s to 1 MEEEEEEELLLION dollars. We can so do this.
    Happy boxing day.

  116. Every time you put out a call, it happens. So one million? Not a problom. It will happen. Now that I am back in the States, most of my spare goes to Peace Corps Partnerships. From my time in the USPC, I know how important a new well, or vaccinations are. And as you said, how much one dollar will make a difference. You do as well, having family in MSF. And through you, the rest of the world knows. You are a great call to arms! And with your help and support, I am sure KWB could raise double the goal, no problom!

  117. We are fortunate indeed. One more thing to add to the list–having the Harlot to go to when we need knitty encouragement and a good laugh!
    A very happy 2009 to you and your family, and I look forward to celebrating the achievement of the very admirable goal you have set us.

  118. As a doctor, a knitter and a nutty optimist (though not necessarily in that order) I heartily applaud your efforts. I am always amazed at what truly caring and brave people can do. I think MSF is a fine example of those ideals; as are you.
    Plus, with the way you have that “One Million Dollars” in bold print I can’t stop picturing you saying it like Dr. Evil with your pinky up to your mouth…….
    My donation has been made. Thanks for doing this.

  119. Thank you so much. I could say lots, but it’s already been said in all the blogs above. What you say really does make a difference and for this I am grateful. i just made a contribution to MSF for $35US. How do I add it toward your total?

  120. “The Path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire – the light of daring burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain.โ€
    H. P. Blavatsky
    If anyone can rally knitters to a good cause it’s you. I’m sure the $1million is so doable.
    I just donated $50USD.

  121. I’m in. Thanks for your post. Let’s make the million dollar goal! Best wishes to you and yours in the new year.

  122. Thanks for reminding us!
    I completely agree that many North Americans waste so much, and want for nothing.
    I really want to try to complain less in 2009 …

  123. I was remembering that you used to visit Helen and Don on boxing day, and that is today, and that you might be missing your aunt and uncle today.

  124. Thank You for putting into words so eloquently the feelings I have for this world as well. I am new to your blog and enjoy every word! Keep knitting!

  125. THank you such a lovely post-we are truly blessed in Canada and I think we take it all for granted. I try to count my blessings everyday-I have sent in a donation to MSF-God bless

  126. You’re not the least bit crazy about hoping for a million. I figured all along we’d try for a million eventually and plan to up my personal ante to get there. Seriously dude, how could we raise this much money and NOT shoot for a million? It’s like finishing a sock but not grafting the toe.

  127. Steph, I commit $25 US dollars to Doctors without borders. Please send me an email to where I should send the check to. Also I would Like to send something to you. Will you please send me your email? I promise it is sent with lots of love. Joyeaux Noel.

  128. Thank you so much, especially for this: “Having loved ones to miss speaks to the great gift of loving and having been loved.”
    This has been a really difficult Christmas since my Mom died this past summer and so much other family stuff has seemed more complicated as a result. That was something I really needed to hear.
    Peace to you and your family, too.

  129. So, it’s time to update the Current Goal in the sidebar from a timid “???” to a comitted “$1 million”. By the way, when we let you know how muhc we donated, should we calculate to Canadian $ if our donation was in US$ ?

  130. Thank you for this post. My sweet young husband recently died. He was a family doc and we have donated to Doctors without Borders. This is the first time I have ever left a comment anywhere but you must know that you hit a cord and you are such an eloquent writer. “Having loved ones to miss speaks to the great gift of loving and having been loved” is what I needed to read this morning. I feel blessed. Keep on being a “go-getter” and the best to you and your family this new year.

  131. Oh Doubting Thomas, would that you had the faith of a child. One million is not even close to out of reach.
    May you and yours be blessed this year.

  132. Nuts and bolts: after we donate, then we e-mail you with the amount? Thanks, lady, for your wonderful and loving and inspiring thoughts.

  133. Thanks for this piece. It is important at this time of year to really feel grateful for the abundance we really do have and remember to give back…and take care of each other. This helped put/keep things in perspective.

  134. Donation FAQ:
    Follow the link from Steph’s blog ( — scroll down to #2 on the list) to donate directly to Doctors Without Borders.
    Then email Steph (item #3 on the list) telling her the amount and currency of your donation; for example, US$50.
    Item #4 on the list: Enjoy the warm glow you get.

  135. Donation How-to:
    Follow the link from Steph’s blog ( — scroll down to #2 on the list) to donate directly to Doctors Without Borders.
    Then email Steph (item #3 on the list) telling her the amount and currency of your donation; for example, US$50.
    Item #4 on the list: Enjoy the warm glow you get.

  136. You rock. And for some time now, I’ve totally expected KWB to break the 1 million mark at some point. Haven’t even questioned it. That, my friend, is the power of knitters!
    We at chez Quimby have already agreed, gladly, to continue our monthly donation to MSF through 2009 (and emailed you about it)…but after further consideration, and a long discussion started by your wise friend Andy’s words – we’ve also agreed that it is just as important to “take care of each other” on a more local level as well. So, we’re going to match our MSF donations with an equal amount to our local food bank. Something we might not have considered, except for your wise words.
    Thanks for giving us a new mantra for the coming year. Thanks for doing what you do to build this fantastic community with super-powers for amazing good. Thanks for helping this wee fambly, at least, feel like we’re not in this alone. Wear your cape and (knitted) tights proudly!

  137. Will you edit the current goal on the sidebar here, and change it from “$???” to “$1,000,000”. Please. For me. It would make me very happy to see it there.

  138. Wow. 2008 was a particularly crappy year and this was exactly what I needed to start out 2009. May it be a peaceful and kind year for all.

  139. One Million.
    I like that. Nice round number.
    And probably more achievable than some year’s Christmas knitting goals!
    thanks for a wonderful post. So true and heartfelt (I typed heartful at first, and that’s true too).
    Be ready to hear from me on Wednesday when I get paid….

  140. Hi! You are an amazing woman and an inspiration to us all. Below is my favorite bit of holiday poetry – please read it as a poetic statement of Taking Care of Each Other. As soon as I finish this comment I will be off make my donation toward your remarkable goal. Knitters know all about how small repetitions make amazing things and I know we can do this.
    Oh, and being someone with a December birthday means I have always looked forward to seeing Orion – the Three Sisters – however you want to say it. It is the most findable constellation for me!
    Kid Stuff
    The wise guys
    tell me
    that Christmas
    is KID STUFF…..
    Maybe they’ve got
    something there–
    Two thousand years ago
    three wise guys
    chase a star
    across a continent
    to bring
    frankincense and myrrh
    to a kid
    born in a manger
    with an idea in his head.
    And as the bombs
    crash all over the world
    the real wise guys
    that we’ve all
    got to go chasing stars
    in the hope
    that we can get back
    some of that
    born 2,000 years ago.
    ….Frank Horne…Dec. 1942

  141. thanks for reminding all of us who have so much, at this bountiful time of year, of those who are not so fortunate. i think we all really need to take a step back from all the stuff under the tree or on our table and really think how lucky we are…and that taking care of each other is so very important!

  142. What a beautiful post – and it feels so right to donate to MSF after sitting and looking at the pile of gifts under our tree – it’s nice to be able to give them but giving to MSF feels so much better.

  143. when any of my children complain about our toys not being big enough, or our house fancy enough, i remind them that we are richer than 98% of the world’s population, and that we have each other. then i promptly forget it myself. shameful really.
    so.. thank you for a beautiful post.
    amen sister.

  144. I just gave 35 dollars to MSF, and only wish I could give more. Thanks for the inspiration you provide! Oh, and the giggles too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  145. That was a beautiful post. Merry Christmas.
    I’ve been looking at that total, thinking about a million. Time to get the checkbook.
    may 2009 bring peace and love to all of us–and all of them.

  146. Amen Stephanie, Amen.
    On Christmas night we watched the Terry Fox made-for-TV movie again and I was struck by his goal of $1 from each Canadian (a $24,000,000 goal at that time in 1980). I started thinking about what would happen if each year each Canadian (or American, or Brit or.. you get the point) were to give $1 (or pound, or ruppee or… again, you get the point) how much money that would be and how much that would accomplish.
    Every time you write about MSF/KWB I feel excited and a little proud of how much was accomplished and will continue to be accomplished. Thank you for kicking this all off 4 years ago with such a simple gesture and for continuing to do so.
    Now I’m off to go make a donation…

  147. When we celebrated the solstice this year, we turned off the lights and the central heat and talked about how, long ago, people would hope even in the darkest and longest night that they would live to see spring. We talked about how now, there are those who have to make the choice between heat and food and that there are those in this world who wish they were lucky enough to have that choice.
    We each lit a candle to represent that which we strive for, our own light, and we sang *together* as a family and a community to remember that even though we’re each on our own paths, we can’t do this thing alone. We need each other. People need each other to live.
    It rained that night, hard, but the dawn of the next morning was cold and glorious. I have been blessed with plenty and if I can share just a little bit of that blessing, maybe the world will be a little brighter because of it.

  148. Your post brought me to realize how truly blessed I am. I have made a continuing monthly donation of $50.00 to help you reach the goal. Thank you for providing me with much laughter (and a few tears) and the genuine pleasure of reading your blog. May you and yours have a truly peaceful holiday season.

  149. An extra zero….I like it…and you’re not completely crazy. It CAN be done! We’ve got the power of knitters on our side.
    Happy Holidays!

  150. $1,000,000 – barking mad, naturally, but I’ll do my best to make sure it’s not impossible.
    I love that you’re focusing on reaching out, doing small things, dreaming large dreams. It’s what we need. It makes me happy every time I think of this new goal you’ve set.

  151. Thank you for the reminder that we are so, so blessed! I’ve just signed up for a monthly donation (only amounts to losing one cup of coffee a week) and I feel so much better. You’ve helped me find my Christmas too…

  152. A few years ago, I saw a bumper sticker on a car in the parking lot of Barnes & Noble- I remember exactly where it was because it impacted me so significantly. The sticker said “God bless the whole world- no exceptions.” At first, when I saw it, I thought it was ridiculous. I thought, Do you want to send blessings to rapists and murders and terrorists and slave traders and all the other people who do horrible things?
    But then I thought more deeply, and I changed my anser to Yes- I want the whole world, especially the people who do horrible things, to have peace and joy and love in their hearts. I want everyone in the world to have a fantastic life, and it’s not my right to pass judgement on the people who made bad choices.
    You are so encouraging, Stephanie. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  153. I loved your washer story. I’ll never forget the day we tried to take it downstairs. My sister and I behind and Dad on the landing, we thought we had it strapped on his cart well enough–NOT! It slid right off the cart and came sliding down the stairs at my sister and I with the speed of an astoroid. I don’t know how we moved so fast peddling downstairs backwards but we made it and the washer landed at the bottom of the stairs with a bang. That was 22 years ago and the washer is still giving faithful service and now that I have a spinning wheel I’m using it to wash fleeces. (Thanks for the heads up on the felting incident….) Happy New Year to you and your family and the new washer.

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