The Thursday Night Club and other stories of Christmas Spirit

A gift of kindness, an act of kindness that is selfless and from the heart is so rare today in world filled with glitter, glam and so many who want everything and often give nothing in return. Jesse Cabral and his three friends Izzy, Ava and Randy join forces every Thursday Night for their weekly Thursday Night Club get together on Izzy and Ava’s front porch. The college seniors have a close relationship and just by their camaraderie, their banter and their willingness to hear each other out you know that these five young people are true friends and are special. Pranks are the heart of their conversation and not getting caught the goal. So, when they dare each other to pull of a prank that is not dangerous, will not hurt anyone they each ante up a quarter for the pot and one person just might win a huge dollar. Entering their classroom for their first class Kevin has an idea that will blow your mind and the end result is hysterical. Why not fill out an application in his friend Randy’s name saying that he wants to be a manager of any type of store. Kevin on the other hand pretends to receive a note suggesting that Jesse handed him a note that suggested sexual harassment but the professor having a sense of humor took it in stride. Jesse on the other hand was dressed in black and standing in the quad was standing in front of sign that said Mime Field. The jokes were harmless and their friendship strong but it would soon be tested to the limits when something changes. But, not before Jesse claims he’s collecting money to Help Stop Gingivitis in Peru. You have to be there to appreciate it!

The next think we know is that Jesse takes out his phone and Kevin relates that he’s annoyed getting calls for jobs for ridiculous things. Brandt Swanson is the host and introduces Randy to talk about some of the lonely people in their college community. You can only imagine what happens when he tells the world that Kevin is shy and hates talking to girls as Kevin hopes his girlfriend is not watching. Learning about her the reader might wonder why he is even dating her and as you get to know her better we hope Kevin realizes that too. Jesse is a wonderful person and learning from his grandfather that doing good deeds is important so even though he might have won the prank and got money he gave it to charity instead.

On his way to class Jesse looked to the left and saw the last thing he would ever see the front grill of a car and then lights out! Never thinking they lost their friend they learned at the scene of the accident that he was gone and that the four friend’s lives would be forever changed. The callousness of the police and their hard line angered the four as he said he tried to skip the light but anger and fury take the limelight as the man who killed him they learned was set free. It was deemed a tragic accident. Losing a friend or anyone close can change your perspective in many ways but these four sat down and thought of something so amazing and so fantastic that after reading what they decided to do I challenge everyone reading my review and this fantastic story and the other two to do the same thing.

Professor McKee is a true inspiration as she explains why no one remembers people by what they do while on this planet, more importantly helping others, which sets the tone for what happens next. Even more Jesse’s life had a purpose and now they would have to delve into their own minds to see it more closely. “Imagine is we all measured wealth by how much we have? Their goal set to do an Act of Kindness, keeping it anonymous and having the professor decide the winner.

Each one of the friends realized that this deed would have to be done by Christmas and what they all do will endear you to each one of them. Kevin comes up with a way to create a fund drive to help someone get into college who would not otherwise be able to attend due to money. Ava decides to help out at a senior center speaking to many residents and making a difference in their lives. Izzy decides to become a bone marrow donor and she creates a book drive and finally Randy crime stoppers to help protect students on campus from attacks that have already happened. When Izzy is called to donate her bone marrow she keeps it quiet until the mother of the child reveals it in front of Ava. Will she keep silent? Randy saves a young girl on campus and does not want anyone to know it was him? Kevin decides to create this fund and quite a few others join him on the Hands Up Bike ride Riding for Higher Education. Without help or a scholarship he never would have made it through school and the end result he hopes is that the person receiving the scholarship with pay it forward when he/she can. Author Steven Manchester takes readers into the minds and hearts of these four students as they honor their friend’s memory, as he would have done if it were them.

An ending that will grip you and bring tears to your eyes as the Professors words ring out but first meet Mrs. LeComte who loves when Ava visits and tells her about her life before. She lived and long life and told her about prohibition, The Great Depression and her stories were enlightening. The story helps readers learn just how special these four seniors are as Randy realizes that someone is in trouble and acts rather than walking away. Ava sparkles at being involved at the center and she even prepares packages for those that are in need. Izzy is proud of what she did and her book drive is a total success. But, the ending Professor McKee sums it up perfectly: three things have the courage to be who God made you to be; take responsibility for your life-whether it’s happiness or misery, it’s your choice and if you work hard enough never lose faith, dreams really do come true. So, who wins the A Act of Kindness? You need to read it for yourself and you decide. Everyone has a guardian angel watching over him or her theirs is Jesse mine is my sister Marcia.

The second story is called A Christmas Wish and the many character is a special grandmother who instills in her granddaughter Steph to be who she is and respect what she wants in life when finding someone she will care for and love. What I love is how Steph sealed her Christmas wish by closing her eyes thinking and seeing what she wants and hopes for and then sealing it with a wink. Blind dates are not her thing but meeting Melissa and then Lauren might change it all. Seeing the Lion King with Melissa and then bumping into Lauren changes things. But, Mama as she is called introduces us to Brian who they said would never talk or walk and you will love him so much as he brings joy and sunlight into the cold weather and the snow. Mama takes him to lunch, to buy some turkeys and do Christmas shopping as Brian, Mama and maybe even Steph learn with the help of author Steven Manchester the true meaning of a Christmas Wish. Did hers’ come true? What’s yours?
The final story hits home as it tells about a young mother named Joanne who works as a caregiver at a senior facility. Nancy Guillmette has dementia as my mom did and her caregiver wants her to have faith in life, eat and not give up. Jeanne is amazing and just wants to help stop the illness and slow it down because we all know it cannot be cured. But, talking about the past and teaching her about her special Christmases with her parents brings life to Nancy and meaning to Jeanne’s life. But, when her daughter’s come her attitude becomes angry and we realize that they are self-centered and do their obligatory visits and then leave. Leaving her a token gift and then telling her that they are needed more by their family’s lets readers know that the only hope for Nancy to have any semblance of life or reality is through Jeanne? Learn about the many different traditions in many different countries that Nancy remembers. Learn about how her father read to her, how she placed the star on top of the tree and the special dishes her mother prepared and the homemade gifts. Learn about a special doll that was handmade for her and she called her Susan and visualize the tin manger and the meaning it had for her as she shares the story of the Nativity and the birth of Jesus. Read about the papa’s account at a local store and the present he bought for her mother and how he paid it out by the week until it was paid off. Listen her spirits rise and the hope that she will eat, remember she has people who loved her and still do as Jeanne brings her daughter Lexi and the memories she shares and the Christmas that Nancy has is more than memorable it’s heartfelt. To all those who care for someone in this type of facility take a lesson from Jeanne who is someone to aspire to and to those who care for someone at home like I did, remember making them feel vital, sharing pictures and memories and allowing them to feel important is special. Take the journey into Nancy’s past and see what happens at the very end. Memories are precious and Nancy is too.!

Three stories that will renew your faith in love, hope, friendship, the spirit of the holidays, family love, relationships and Kindness!

Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine

Thank you for sharing these stories and when I need a true reminder of what acts of kindness, being self-less and caring are I will reread these stories. So, should all of you!