Originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper on December 11, 2014
It is December and the holidays are coming. Like my friend Chuck, the first person to invite me to a dinner of Jewish food, you may celebrate Hanukah, or like my friend Susan, a Jehovah’s Witness, you may not celebrate the holidays at all, but they are coming just the same.
My last name is Cesano, which is Italian, and it would be a pretty easy pair of guesses to come up with my being raised Catholic and celebrating Christmas.
I love Christmas. I love the decorations. I love the sentimental magic of the best Christmas movies, old and new: It’s a Wonderful Life to Elf and Miracle on 34th Street to The Polar Express, and I often find a tear or stream of tears rolling down my cheeks with the best as the wonderful magical Spirit of Christmas is captured.
As a child, I loved Christmas; the putting out cookies and milk for Santa and celery for his reindeer and, of course, the opening of packages on Christmas morning. Every child should know that joy.
I moved north to Ukiah to be closer to my son, leaving a salaried marketing position in the wine industry only to find that there was no such position waiting for me in this county. I was unemployed for two years before falling into my job as the manager at the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room in Hopland. While unemployed, things got tighter and tighter financially, as I ran through savings and then survived by going into credit card debt. That last Christmas before starting work was pretty slim for my son.
As dire as my situation was, there are people who have things tougher, and some children do not get to experience the joy of Christmas. Given the opportunity, I decided to do something to help change that in some small measure.
I asked my boss, Guinness McFadden, in 2012 if I could use our tasting room to host a TOYS FOR TOTS event, giving away a bunch of his stuff to get people to bring toy donations; not a giant sales revenue producing event, but more a charitable event, and he gave me permission to do so.
That first year, KOZT mentioned our event many times each day and the Ukiah daily Journal gave it a nice push, and we ended up with a donation box overflowing with new unwrapped toy donations. Last year, I wrote about the event here in my column and we saw a doubling of donations. This year, I would love to double last year’s donations but, really, any number is helpful, welcome, and enormously appreciated.
Tomorrow, Friday, December 12, 2014, after work from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, you are invited to the 3rd annual McFadden TOYS FOR TOTS Toy Drive and Wine Tasting event at our McFadden Farm Stand & tasting Room, located at 13275 South Highway 101 #5, Hopland, CA 95449.
Bring a new unwrapped toy donation and you’ll receive a drawing entry for an assortment basket (over $200 value) of assorted McFadden Farm retail goods, and raffle win or not everone with a donation will receive a box of McFadden Farm Wild Rice. There will also be a tasting of all our current release wines and we’ll offer up a food pairing taste of a McFadden Wild Rice stuffing. During the event, our California State Fair Wine Competition Best of Show awarded sparkling wine and our almost sold out Pinot Noir, both available only to our wine club members will – with a toy donation – be available to all during the event. We will also discount everything in the tasting room 20%, all wine, all food, all glassware, everything – and wine club members will get 25% off – during this special three hour event.
We are thrilled to partner with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, even though I was Army and Guinness was Navy, in putting on our 3rd annual McFadden TOYS FOR TOTS Toy Drive and Wine Tasting event, and equally thrilled to bring all of the collected toys to the Hopland Volunteer Fire Department so the men can help Santa bring some very much needed Christmas cheer to some local boys and girls who need your help and charity.
I want to thank KOZT for the many mentions this year, and the Ukiah Daily Journal for allowing me to turn my wine column into a plea for your help once each year, but most of all I want to thank you in advance for the donations of unwrapped toys (or cash which I use to buy shopping carts full of toys with) that you will bring to McFadden tomorrow during our toy drive & wine tasting event, or after if you can’t make it tomorrow.
Everyone from every religion can get behind smiling Children so, wine drinker or not (yes, I’m looking at you, my Adventist neighbors), I hope to see you tomorrow, Friday December 12 between 4 and 7 pm, with a new unwrapped toy or cash (minimum $10 recommended) donation. Our raffle assortment basket has no wine in it, so there is no barrier to charity for anyone.
Again, thanks in advance for your help bringing Christmas cheer into a needful child’s life, and I hope you can handle the feeling when your heart grows three sizes this holiday season.