The holidays can be a lonely time for many. Unfortunately, this was true for Carrie, a woman in her mid-50s and a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who posted an ad on Craigslist a couple years ago, offering to be a grandma for Christmas to a family in need.
What Was This Grandma for Christmas Offering?
Carrie, the grandma for Christmas, was offering to cook dinner for a family and even bring gifts for the children because she so desperately wanted to be part of a family celebration at Christmas.
Check out her post:
Carrie was being genuine when she shared that she did not have anyone to spend time with on Christmas. At the time, Carrie was in the midst of a battle with cancer. On tome of that, while she did have a daughter who lived nearby, her daughter would not speak to her, even during Christmas time, and her daughter refused to let Carrie be a grandma for Christmas to her granddaughter.
As you can imagine her pain, this is why she took to Craigslist to find a family that would invite her to be their grandma for Christmas. And people took notice. Images of the Craigslist add ended up on social media, and many people had something to say about it. Sadly, some people’s initial reaction to her add was unkind and hurtful, so much so that she became silent when others did reach out to her. The harsh and cruel responses assumed that Carrie was either a scammer or a fake. Others called her a parasite and suggested this “grandma for Christmas” go commit suicide. The relentless comments that said she was just trying to take advantage of a vulnerable family added salt to Carrie’s wounds. Hence Carrie’s comment thanking the commenters “for the extra shot of pain.”
But that wasn’t the end for this grandma for Christmas. Carson Carlock, a 21-year-old man at the time, saw Carrie’s post and he took a screenshot. He posted the screenshot to Facebook, saying, “Someone please let her be your grandma for Christmas.”
Here is Carson Carlocks’ post.
As you can see, initially, Carrie had removed her post and he struggled to contact her, despite more than a thousand comments and more than six thousand shares. Apparently, thousands of people were willing to help, but Carrie would not respond, being concerned that the people reaching out might be as cruel as some of the initial people who posted on social media.
But Carson was determined to get in touch with her and find a way to help her feel welcome at Christmas. He, himself, had lost his mother the previous year to cancer. He empathized with Carrie and her loneliness, and he wanted to help, knowing how she might feel. In Carson’s message to Carrie he reported to The New York Times that he said to her, “I simply just want to help you find a family. You won’t be alone this Christmas.”
This message caused this grandma for Christmas to respond to Carson. Even still, because of how people had called her a parasite, she feared accepting help from any families because of how the harsh social media posters had characterized her. Thankfully, she did end up accepting Carson’s offer of friendship, and the two set a date and time to meet at a McDonald’s in their area.
Upon meeting, the two hugged and both cried. Carson was quote in The New York Times as saying, “She burst into tears and said, ‘Come here.'” And from there, Carrie found friends to spend Christmas with. She wasn’t alone, and that was made clear by Carson and many others.
Although this grandma for Christmas didn’t end up spending Christmas in the way she had expected she could in her Craigslist post, making dinner and bringing gifts for children, she did spend it in love with a caring community. She even received many emails after that from others who also were lonely. She read many stories and hoped to partner with Carson to pass along the kindness to more lonely people during the holidays and throughout the year.
This grandma for Christmas was quoted saying, “I don’t want anybody to feel the way I felt. Most of us just want the feeling of love and belonging.”
So maybe you haven’t read an ad on Craigslist from someone like Carrie, but do you know anyone in your neighborhood, church, at work, or your greater community that you might be able to welcome into your home on Christmas?
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In need of some inspiration. Check out these Christmas verses.