How a Letter to Santa Foreshadowed My Nonprofit Career

My parents recently started the arduous process of cleaning out the house they have spent the past 23 years in to prepare for an upcoming move to New Bern, NC. To add another level of angst to the situation, this is the same house my maternal grandparents lived in for over 40 years, so they are also sifting through items they left behind. (You know the items I’m talking about.. the ones you swear you’ll use “one day” but have sat in the attic for years.)

It's emotional deciding the fate of a culmination of things that define a lifetime of memories… the trash bag of beanie babies from the craze that defined the 90’s, the monogrammed suitcases we carried to our grandparents’ homes, the box of musty smelling Barbies with their tangled hair cut into jagged edges from playing hairdresser with kid’s scissors, as well as the boxes of old photos stuck together thanks to heat and humidity of our Carolina summers.

And then there are the things that find you. You didn’t miss them, you honestly forgot you had them, but once you see them a flood of nostalgia hits you out of nowhere. A letter I wrote to Santa when I was about six years old is one of those “things” for me. Straight from my parents’ attic, under a pile of old school papers and art projects, it reads:

Embracing My Nonprofit Career Calling

There’s so much to unpack from this letter. One being that it appears to be a follow-up to an initial letter asking for more toys. At least I clarified and told Santa he didn’t have to fulfill my whole list?

Another being that my six-year-old brain thought to anticipate the scene Santa would walk into upon entering our house and set the stage for him, down to the different shaped cookies he would enjoy. If this doesn’t foreshadow how detail-oriented I would become and pave the way for my nonprofit and administrative career, I don’t know what does.

Lastly, I love the fact that starting at a young age I was advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. You learned a little about my brother Danny in a blog earlier this year. Danny has special needs and his abilities, including his speech, are severely delayed. It shows me my heart’s desire has always been to use whatever platform I have to help others. I’m sure many of you have life events that you can look back on as the defining moments that set the trajectory for your nonprofit careers. It’s now no surprise to me now that I candidly told a college professor, “I have no idea what I want to do or what I want to be when I grow up. I just know I want whatever I do to have purpose and meaning.”

I think six-year-old Sara and 20-year-old Sara would be proud of where we ended up today. I hope as you take a lookback at your former selves, you can say the same. Feel free to email me any of your stories you’d like to share!

P.S. – My siblings and I have wonderful and loving parents that have provided for us equally over the years. The absurdity of my insinuation that this was not the case is likely the reason they saved this letter!

Sara Littlejohn is the Administrative Coordinator for Armstrong McGuire. Learn more and catch her other musings in her bio.

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