Well folks, our little project is working out pretty well. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa and join me in my favorite spot for a quick chat, won't you? This is the first Gracious Parcels blanket, completed. The blanket is beautiful and warm, just as we all wanted it to be. The tags on the individual squares bring life to this special blanket that will make it particularly dear (I believe) to the recipient, a local Habitat for Humanity homeowner who has been through a very rough time in the past several months. In addition to the tags you each made and attached to your squares, I wrote an overall tag explaining the origin of the blanket, the theme behind it, and the fact that knitters from around the country and the world participated in making this blanket especially for her. The note included overall well wishes and gracious blessings from all of us to her. When I presented it to the Habitat board last evening, toward the end of our monthly planning meeting, they were all thrilled. You would have all been so proud to hear the warm comments, from the men on the board as well as the women. They knew I was putting together a blanket, but they had no idea just how special it would be until they saw it with their own eyes. It was wonderful to hear their voices brighten up and to see the smiles across their faces. The feedback was extremely positive and all agreed that the tags identifying the knitters and the states or countries they knitted from as well as any personal wishes included on them are what makes the blanket particularly special and heart warming. In fact, they were so happy about this project, they want my husband and I to photograph me with the blanket and send a press release out to the local paper to promote the project. So, I brought it back home for one more photo op, then it will finally go to the lady we are giving it to. Something in particular you should all know about this project is that our Habitat affiliate is a small group of humble, compassionate, and sincerely decicated volunteers. There are no paid staff at all. They aren't glizy or glamourous, Bob Villa won't ever be showing up to film the operation, and to some they probably don't even show up as a blip on the radar because they aren't pumping out one new Habitat home per month, but manage one per year on average instead. In most volunteer work there is quite a bit of effort necessary behind the scenes, not ever visible to the public. Sometimes they get discouraged because the work is hard and at times there isn't quite enough help and often there is barely enough money to make ends meet. It is a small affiliate, so they don't get the publicity and financial support of larger programs. It can be frustrating work at times, and yet they keep doing it year after year. They do it because it makes a difference, no matter how small, in this world we all live in. This past November a group of board members worked side-by-side with volunteers in cold pouring rain on the current build, doing what they could to get it ready to withstand winter weather. They described what it was like working with rain pouring down their necks, drenching their clothes ... and they laughed and joked about it, shrugging their shoulders at the discomfort. And, though their continuing dedication and work might not show up as a blip on the publicity radar of the bigger world of large big-city Habitat affiliates , it definitely has made a difference in the lives of eleven families over the past eleven or twelve years who otherwise would not have had homes they could call their own. Know that your participation in Gracious Parcels 2006 made a big difference to this wonderful group of people. I am certain it made them feel as if they aren't quite as alone, that people all over the country care about this little group and the small number of families they have created a huge difference for. You are beautiful people. Thank you so very much for participating, contributing, and encouraging me in pursuing this charity knitting project. I look forward to more blankets and more happiness in 2007 and will heartily welcome any participation you are willing and able to pull off. ~firefly P.S. If you sent a square or some squares and don't see them in this blanket, they will be included in the next blanekt.