“In excess.” For many years, this was my mantra for the holiday season.
Hopping from holiday party to holiday party was my key indulgence; and throwing a few of my own, well, that was the cherry on my ice cream sundae.
10 years ago, it all changed for me. Oh, don’t get confused. I still go to some pretty great parties and, yes, I have a few of my own. But, as a mentor to my staff, I decided it was time our salon became a part of a much bigger picture.
I’d like to take claim for this metamorphosis as all my own, but my dance card seemed to be very filled at the time. It was one of my massage therapists who got me thinking and my dear friend, Courtney, who helped me devise a plan to throw a party that becomes a decade old this year.
Both of these women volunteer for an organization called Sanctuary for Families. Their cause helps remove women and children from domestic abuse.
Well, I can assure you that at first it all sounded too sad. After all, I was used to holiday cheer and this sounded more like a holiday downer.
And, besides, who were these people? I, for one, had never met them.
Did you know that battered women come from every walk of life? Their residence is not unique to any one zip code. Park Avenue can be just as fearful of a home as a suburb in rural Mississippi.
I learned this first hand when I watched the life of my client and friend change. For the protection of her privacy, I will refer to her as Jane.
I saw Jane rise: investment banker with a husband, two fab kids, three homes, a boat, and a garage full of cars.
I saw Jane fall: her husband loses his job and blames Jane as he loses houses, cars, and their boat. He, she, and the kids move to a motel as a home. All of this was Jane’s fault and she would pay; he made sure of that.
As I told this story to Courtney, she opened my eyes to abuse. Jane’s self worth was zero. She was made to feel so small. She felt trapped.
They came to Jane’s rescue and I floated Jane’s hair bills as she had floated me all those years before, when I started out.
When Jane was strong enough to have a job interview, I got her ready. We got an outfit for her and did her hair in an up-do so that she could put her best foot forward.
And there you have it. My party was born.
Every December, we host 15 to 20 women who want to take control of their lives. It’s our Holiday Makeover Party with food, drinks, clothing, and toys. My entire staff volunteers to offer massages, nails treatments, make up, hair, babysitting, and food.
We’ll do whatever it takes to touch another human with beauty.
We organize a drive for new outfits so that the ladies dress for success in their interview. La Perla is our biggest donator for 5 years running. We organize toy donations where private clients and companies like Nickelodeon donate toys for the women’s children.
And, we collect used cell phones that Sanctuary for Families reset and distribute to other women not brave enough to make their escape yet, giving them a secure line of communication where they can rescue them from inevitable endangerment.
As leader of a faithful tribe, both my team and I have learned the beauty of the season is sharing kindness. And, although each year we begin as strangers, we always depart as friends.
By the simplest act of touching others with love, our clientele grows. Yes, many of our girls have turned their lives around and come back to us to keep them feeling beautiful all year through.
So today, I ask you not to shop for products or creams that ward off time’s claims on our external selves.
Find the joy in making someone else feel beautiful.
If you hit a wall and can’t think just how to do it, then maybe you can help me.
Donations are being kindly accepted for your used cell phones, a new book or a toy, or perhaps a pretty new blouse or skirt.
I will see to it they all get dispersed on December 8th at our annual Sanctuary for Families 10th year Holiday Make-Over Party.
Here’s the address:
Sanctuary Holiday Make Over Night
In care of Paul Labrecque
East 65th Street
New York, New York 10065
Have a beautiful season and always remember our real beauty resonates from within.
Happy Holidays to all!