GTPulse: Traverse City Woman and Grandchildren Give Unexpected Christmas Gifts to Locals
With a name that matches her spirit, Julie Light has shined some of her light on the Traverse City community this holiday season. For the past four years, she and her grandchildren have wrapped gifts and passed them out to strangers all in the spirit of cheer.
“My granddaughter and I started it. Every year, I pick up five gifts and we would have a girl’s day together, get lunch, and pass out the gifts. It was a great way to teach her about the spirit of giving,” she said.
She and her granddaughter Addie were back at it again this season, with an added member to the team.
“This year my grandson Kain is four so he joined in with us. The kids know what the gifts are, they help me wrap them. He wrapped all of the presents that we had for adults and said that he wanted to pick old people to give the gifts to. So we saw an old couple shopping together and pushing their cart, and behind them comes this little, squat four-year-old saying, ‘Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, Merry Christmas!’”
Julie’s biggest fear starting the Christmas tradition was that people would be apprehensive about a stranger coming up to them.
“As a six-foot-tall woman, I could probably be considered intimidating,” she laughed.
Her adorable grandchildren delivering the gifts has been anything but. The three have spread a lot of smiles and cheer over the years, and this year in particular, decided to go over the usual five gifts and instead, bought and wrapped a few extra to pass out.
“It’s been such a hard year for everybody. This year, with the first shutdown, I lost my business. I owned a business and worked a full-time job. I wasn’t eligible for unemployment. I know there are others like me, so this year we bought 15 gifts since we needed to feel a little more joy.”
All of the gifts have a handwritten Christmas card from the trio. This year’s batch included Christmas ornaments and coloring books. Julie wanted to place a special emphasis on purchasing gifts she thought would appeal to young moms.
“So many of them work retail or work the hospitality industry. It’s tough. So we chose some adult coloring books and colored pencils for that age group, refrigerator magnets with inspirational sayings on them. Things like that. The big guy upstairs guides us in who is intended for what gift.”
An adult coloring book with relatable sayings about daily life was given to local realtor Crystal Gober on a day when she needed it.
“Sure enough when Addie ran up to her she had been having the worst day, and Addie happened to choose the sarcastic, smart-ass, coloring book for her. And who would have known it would fit perfectly for that moment?”
This random gift-giving will be a tradition that Julie and her grandkids will keep on with for years to come. She’s thrilled that it’s taught them to be excited about gift-giving, and also, that it’s inspired a little extra good too.
“The great thing is that I had a number of people tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a great idea. I wanna do that too with my kids!’ The more of us who get to do things like that, the better our world is.”
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