Hello Friends and happy Friday! I’m so very excited for today’s post. It’s something a little different from my usual fashion and gift guide posts of the season. It’s one that is all about something much more special. It is all about someone who holds a very special place in my heart, has taught me some of the most valuable lessons in my life, has opened my eyes to so many things I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. This person is no one other than my Uncle Doug! Through this post, I hope y’all will be able to see even just a glimpse of the joy Doug brings to this world. Keep on reading if you want to meet Doug 🙂
I have always wanted to share a post all about my Uncle Doug, because I truly believe his smile needs to be seen by many, as it has the ability to instantly brighten your day! I felt that now would be the perfect time, because on Christmas Day, Doug will be celebrating his 60th birthday! And tonight, we are having a celebration for Doug at his very favorite restaurant. Doug is loved by so many!
Now for a little background on Doug. Christmas Day, 1958, my grandparents welcomed their first-born baby into the world. Doug was born with Down Syndrome. I could never put myself in my grandparent’s shoes and understand how they felt at ages 22 and 27, knowing their baby boy was born with Down Syndrome. My grandmother has always told me that she never once doubted that Doug was more than perfect! I know when my grandparents look back on that very day Doug was born, they had no idea of what an absolute JOY Doug would be to so many, all the lives he would impact, all the lessons he would teach just by simply being there, and how his smile would absolutely light up a room.
Through this post, I hope y’all will also be able to feel the joy that Doug brings and see what even the smallest act of kindness can do for someone.
Now for some fun facts about Doug:
1. His birthday is on Christmas Day! He loves Christmas like no other and sharing his birthday with Jesus. He’s Santa’s biggest fan. And he will be SIXTY this Christmas Day! He takes his birthday cake very seriously (it must be round and decorated for Christmas).
2. He loves music. His favorite song is Amazing Grace (he can sing it more beautifully than anyone I know) and he loves Louis Armstrong 🙂
3. His favorite thing to order is fried shrimp, with cocktail sauce for dipping, and sweet tea.
4. His favorite restaurants are a local bar-b-que restaurant, a local sea food restaurant and Cracker Barrel. He frequents them every week!
5. He always knows which holiday is coming next and is ready to pull out some decorations.
6. Following the last fun fact, Doug also always knows who is going to have a birthday next in our family!
7. Doug is a world traveler! He has traveled with my grandparents to more states and countries than I ever will in my lifetime. He has souvenirs in his room from all over the world. And photos from all the places he has visited.
8. His favorite place to visit is New Smyrna Beach! One of my greatest joys of our family vacation there each year is seeing Doug enjoy it. He loves to sit out on the porch at night and look at the shrimp boats out in the ocean (and sing this song) 🙂
9. He is always ready to help my Grandmother, hold her arm and stand by her. You will always see them arm in arm.
10. He loves to draw! He has what we like to call his “workspace” at the kitchen table where he spends time working hard on his drawings each day.
11. He simply adores Jaycee and Madeline (and Madeline and Jaycee are just crazy about him)! When he sees them, you’ll always hear him giggling uncontrollably.
12. He loves Clemson Football! On another thought, if you haven’t seen this video about this team’s equipment manager, you NEED to watch it!
13. His favorite color is red.
14. He loves his photo books we have made for him, filled with photos of Madeline and Jaycee. He even sleeps on a pillowcase we made him, with Jaycee’s picture on it, ever single night.
15. He LOVES snowmen! Even though we don’t get too much snow here in Georgia, Doug has quite the snowman collection (figurines, socks, coffee mugs, etc.).
16. He has quite the collection of fun socks. You can always bet Doug will be wearing a pair every time you see him, no matter how dressed up he is haha.
17. He’s obsessed with vanilla ice cream. He can’t end his day without having a scoop or two 🙂
18. He’s an avid coffee drinker and has quite the coffee mug collection.
19. He loves his recliner! Chilling out at home in his recliner and watching TV is always a good idea to Doug.
20. He has the biggest heart of anyone you’ll ever meet, and his smile (and hugs!) most definitely prove it.
As y’all can see, Doug is quite the character! There’s never a boring moment with Doug. But I think the most important one of all is his ability to brighten your day! You can be having the worst day ever, and Doug can instantly turn that right around. Doug loves the Lord, and hearing him sing, especially Amazing Grace, is one of the biggest blessings you’ll ever hear. He has impacted the lives of so many, just by simply being himself. He is adored by countless people.
Lessons Doug Has Taught Me:
Life just wouldn’t be the same without Doug. Growing up with Doug as my Uncle has been one of the greatest blessings in the world! Every time I would, and still to this day, visit my grandparents and Doug at their house, he is the first to welcome you at the door with a big bear hug! His hug is like no other. Even though Doug doesn’t know it, he has taught me so many lessons in life.
Growing up, I never once thought Doug was any different than anyone else. My sister and I just loved to play and hang out with Doug! Actually, it was years before I even knew that he had something called Down Syndrome. And even though I didn’t understand it then, Doug taught me such an important lesson in life: to never treat anyone any differently, just because they may look (or act) a little different from others. I’ll never forget being at my birthday parties as a little girl and a few of my friends who attended my parties just standing there staring at Doug. I couldn’t understand why they would look at him like that, and it honestly hurt. Now when I see someone stare at him, I am always determined to make eye contact and just give them a huge smile! Having Doug as my Uncle has taught me to be tender-hearted.
Another valuable lesson Doug has taught me is how even the tiniest act of kindness has the ability to make such a huge difference in someones life. My grandmother always says, “You know, it doesn’t take much to make Doug smile.” That is SO true, and I truly believe it is for many people! You can simply talk to Doug, give him a hug, ask him how he is doing, take him to his favorite restaurant, etc., and you’ll receive a huge smile in return! Because of Doug, I always try to remember this no matter where I am or who I come in contact with. Whether it’s sparking up a conversation with someone, asking them how they’re doing, surprising them with flowers, giving a hug, paying it forward in a drive-thru line, or even simply opening the door for someone or giving someone a smile, you never know the impact that even the smallest acts of kindness may have on someones life.
Overall, Doug is such an example of the Lord’s unconditional love and goodness to us. I tend to easily worry about things, and being with Doug always has a way of calming my heart. Doug never seems to worry about anything, takes it one day at a time and is always a reminder of just how much there is to be thankful for! Having Doug in my life and spending time with him is always a reminder of this. He just has a way of putting your mind at ease 🙂
I also love knowing that Doug is teaching Madeline so many life lessons, even though she is too young to understand now. What a blessing it is for her to have such an amazing Great-Uncle in her life! Just as my grandmother and mother have taught me, I want her to also learn early on how important it is to never treat anyone any differently and be tender-hearted. And just like I was at her age, she doesn’t think of Doug as being any differently than anyone else. Oh how she adores Doug and he adores her as well. She loves “Doug Hugs” and you can always find them embracing each other when they’re together. Doug loves when you tell him that he’s a “Big Man” and Madeline knows this. When she’s with him, I’ll hear her telling him “Doug, you’re such a big man!” and when he giggles, she loves to respond with “Doug, you’re so funny” 🙂 Seeing her and Doug together just melts my heart. The bond they share is so special, and what a blessing it is to know that Doug is such a big part of her life.
I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to introduce y’all to Doug today. I hope that through this post, Doug has put a smile on your face as well. No matter what y’all are up to today, I challenge y’all to do some small act of kindness for someone just to see what a difference it can make in their life. Just remember what I said about Doug 🙂
My grandmother has always quoted this verse to me, and I think it is so true to Doug and all other individuals with special needs.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”
~ Hebrews 13:2 ~
Remember this as you go about your day! You never know who you are going to come in contact with. Who the Lord is going to place in your path. Who the Lord is going to assign to your life that day! Whether it’s someone with special needs or not, you never know if they may be “angels unawares”.
We had so much fun taking these photos with Doug! He let me pick out his outfit, pick him up and have a fun little photoshoot with us haha 🙂 I’ll end my post with a little message to Doug, because I hope my grandmother will read this to him and show him the handsome pictures we got with him.
“I love you so much, Doug! I love everything about you. I love your smile, your hugs, your unconditional love, your caring ways, and most of all, your heart. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life and Madeline’s. Although you may not know it, you have taught me some of the most valuable lessons in life and are doing the same for Madeline. And thank you, Ammama and Dandaddy, for the example of your unconditional love and care for Doug throughout your entire lives has been to me. Happy sixtieth birthday my sweet and special Uncle. I love you so much!”
I also wanted to end this post by sharing a few amazing shops and organizations that help support those with special needs doing amazing things in this world! Each one has a story behind it that is sure to brighten your day. If you have another that you’d like to add to the list, be sure to comment below, and I’ll add it to the list so we all can see it 🙂
Caring Couture – Beautiful Hand-Painted Scarves
Da Bombs by Morgan Tibbens – Bath Bombs
Darden’s Delights – Some of the best pies I’ve ever had!
Gracie’s Doggie Delights – Dog Treats!
John’s Crazy Socks – Y’all have to see these funs socks!!
River Bend Gallery – Art by Geoffrey Mikol
Seanese – His T-Shirts are amazing!
Sweet Heat Jam Co. – Delicious jams
The Training Shop – The most beautiful hand-made snowflakes!
I thank each and every one of you so much for stopping by today! Y’all are the best 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this post.