Let me tell you a little story.
Danny (not his real name, and you'll understand why in a minute) is a husband and father who wanted to do something special for his wife this Christmas. They were both fed up with the materialistic emptiness the holidays often brought: "typical American Christmas—gizmos, gadgets, whatnots, and an oversized helping of turkey," as he calls it.
This was spurred, in part, by a trip to Africa in 2008. When he saw the great need there, he knew he had to do something better with his money this Christmas.
He and his wife agreed that they would spend no money on each other this year, instead sending as much as they could to the humanitarian efforts underway in the village Danny visited. In place of material gifts to each other, they would make gifts for each other, gifts that didn't cost money--only effort and creativity.
He hatched a brilliant idea.
His wife is the mother of small children, a season of life often fraught with discouragement and exhaustion. He began asking some mothers he knew in real life to submit letters of encouragement to her, sharing their best bits of motherhood wisdom. He planned to collect the letters to give to her Christmas morning.
Danny's idea was well-received by friends, but he began to realize his "mother network" was fairly small. He wanted to broaden the scope of his idea and find a way for more women to encourage his wife.
The Mother Letter Project was born.
This is a simple blog that tells his family's story, and it invites women--strangers, friends, from all walks of life--to write a letter to his wife, encouraging her in her mothering journey.
He wrote to me to say that his wife is a faithful reader of my blog, and would I consider writing a letter for the project?
Um, well, seeing as how this is the sweetest thing I've ever heard in my whole life, YES, I will write a letter. And not only will I write a letter, I'm going to tell every single one of you to write a letter, because did I mention that this is the sweetest thing I've ever heard in my whole life? I can't decide which part of the story is more touching: a husband going to such lengths to encourage his wife? A family committed to changing the life of an African village? A treasure trove of wisdom for mothers, all in one place? The whole thing just makes me smile.
Here is the blog Danny has set up to manage the project. He has revealed as much information as he can without giving away his identity. His wife is a participant in the blogospherre, and he doesn't want to ruin the surprise for her. It's highly likely she is reading this very post, with no idea of the lovely gift waiting for her!
Oh, delicious irony, how I love you.
(Pssst. If you think this might be your husband who is doing this, don't let on that you know. Because I have corresponded with Danny, and let me tell you, your man LOVES you and is trying to crazy-hard to knock your socks off this Christmas. Don't spoil it for him, okay?)
(And? If it's not your husband doing this project, but you're dying to read the collection of letters, then you're in luck, because he'll e-mail you a copy of the finished document after Christmas.
(I think everyone is going be looking all mushy at their husbands tonight.)
Though this whole thing started as a simple idea, a modest and thoughtful gift from one husband to one wife, it is quickly growing beyond that scope. This project has the potential to encourage many mothers. I want to be a part of it. I hope you will too.
If you'd like to participate in the Mother Letter Project, you can read the full instructions here. Write a letter, even a quick one. Encourage another mom. Save a copy for your daughter or niece or neighbor down the street. Heck, save a copy for you and read it back to yourself tomorrow, when you're about to pull your hair out. If you have a blog, consider posting about this project. Wouldn't it be fun to help Danny blow the top off this project?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a letter to write...
*update* To answer a question that has trickled in a couple of times, yes, Danny knew ahead of time I was posting about this, and I consulted closely with him about how much information to include. Some of you were concerned this would spoil the surprise for his wife--but don't worry, every bit of this was done with his permission and blessing. He's actually overwhelmed by your generous response so far. Please keep those letters rolling in!