by Margaret Jackson
In 2010 after my son died, I knew that I could not survive unless I did something drastic. For me drastic, was starting a nonprofit RJ Smiles that focused on making people happy. Somehow I figured if I made others happy, that might somehow seep into my life and bring me some kind of happiness or joy. Christmas however, was a completely different thing. Christmas had always been my most favorite time of the year and something that Richard and I shared, laughed about and enjoyed. My favorite tradition was going through the stockings we had prepared for each other.
After Richard died, I was beyond depressed and wanted nothing to do with Christmas. SO…I decided that on Christmas I needed to find a way to make myself get out of bed and bring someone some joy. I decided that RJ Smiles would fill 100 stockings to be given to individuals who instead of being with their families, worked on Christmas to help others. For the last couple of years I have gotten up on Christmas morning with tears in my eyes and begun delivering stockings. I have dropped them off at hospitals, hotels, restaurants and even gas stations! The recipients smile, laugh and sometimes even cry. They are so appreciative and surprised to be thought of on this special day. I tell the people how much they are appreciated, deliver a stocking, smile…. then move on to the next delivery. By the end of the day, I am exhausted, but full of stories and wonderful experiences…. and the tears have dried.
Margaret’s son, Richard, died in 2010 at the age of 20 as the result of being struck by a car.