Dueling Christmas Lights – Part One

Another one of the Brethauer Christmas traditions is to go and look at Christmas lights. Over the years we have driver to many different areas around our town. Sadly, the past four of five years, have pretty much been the same exact houses (something which Matt reminds me every year since these are the only years he has been included in the tradition). Well this year, BOTH sets of parents stepped it up. And boy was I impressed.

First up, the Englehardts. Christmas light viewing is nothing something Matt grew up doing. They were more a “go to the movies on Christmas” type of family. Thankfully, they have welcomed many of my crazy traditions into their lives. So when Matt’s mother announced that she has a surprise adventure planned, I was psyched. We drove to the town of Millis, MA a neighboring town to where Matt grew up. Unfortunately, about 2,000 other people had the same surprise adventure in mind and we ended up waiting for over an hour in traffic. During this time we enjoyed some quality family bonding time with the Boston Pops concert playing in the background. When we finally pulled up enough to see the lights, we all realized the wait was well worthwhile.

Every year, a local businessman, Kevin Meehan puts on a display to top all displays in his family’s home. What started as a small family project has become a Winter Wonderland, acres upon acres lit from top to bottom, which includes 45+ workshops where all of Santa’s friends, family and elves are preparing for the coming holiday, a real tugboat, and Santa himself sitting 40 feet tall. The display is free for all to experience, but friends and family of Mr. Meehan collect donations for the Salvation Army along the route (a nice touch in my mind).

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Mr. Meehan owns a large auto dealership, so the display included some of the new trucks and cars that might be on folks’ Christmas Lists. Hey, a little self-promotion never hurt anyone. Or did it?

Turn it tomorrow for the NH light show.

Pan Mass Challenge

Pan Mass Challenge – 2010

Nearly 3 years have passed since I first decided to participate in the Pan Mass Challenge. A lot has happened to me in those three years: I moved from Boston to New York, I changed jobs two times, and after dating for 8.5 years, Matt and I finally got engaged. Our world has also seen a lot of changes in those last three years: We have a new president; Oprah announced her retirement and the economy took a turn for the worst. Our country has been forced to rethink its priorities and expectations; however, one thing that has remained constant is our desire to improve, both as individuals and as a country.

The Pan Mass is an organization that has been striving for improvement for more than 30 years. Through fundraising efforts, the Pan Mass has raised more than 270 million dollars for cancer research and treatment. Over the years, the survival rate for cancer has steadily risen as the technology, treatments and understanding of this disease has changed and increased. What sets the Pan Mass Challenge apart from other fundraising efforts is their ability to pass 100% of its donations directly on to the Dana Farber Center. With their proven track record and millions of supporters, the PMC has become the most successful athletic fundraiser in the world. It is something that I believe in whole-heartedly and something that has had a very real impact on my family’s life this year.

A few weeks after last year’s PMC my mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. They caught it early, treated it quickly and while her “battle” against cancer was a very real one, it was also a very small dose of the battles that so many other individuals and families are fighting. Although my mother was not treated at the Dana Farber Center, I am certain that the contributions that the Pan Mass, and other organizations like them, have made over the years, have led to large advances in cancer prevention, screening and treatment. Seeing, and experiencing firsthand, the good that can come from something so simple has inspired me to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge for a third year.

This year, Matt, my sister and my mom, will ride with me and we will all be riding the two-day route from Sturbridge to Provincetown.  As we pedal across the state, we will be surrounded by other riders and volunteers, whose lives have been touched by cancer as well. Some of these people will have stories with happy endings and others will have stories that are now only memories. But together, we hope to fight back against cancer. I hope that you can support me in this fight.

Please visit my profile to make a donation here: http://www.pmc.org/egifts/MB0342