This year he has already received over 10,000 cards in just eight days after a post by his granddaughter went viral on social media.
For the past nine years, George Dowling has detested December, which used to be his favorite month. Since his wife passed away in 2013, Christmas has become a challenging time of year for him. He was married to Lucille for 70 years and it was she who lived for Christmas and the holidays. The day following Thanksgiving, she decorated their Christmas tree and home in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Every day, Christmas cookies were baked in their house. On December 1, 2013, Lucille passed away after a struggle with Alzheimer's. He and his daughter, Suzan Brito took down the tree and skipped Christmas that year. "She was Christmas," Dowling, told The Washington Post. "She did everything big; all the cooking and baking."
Brito who lives with him and is his caregiver, shares, "My father couldn't handle it." Dowling is a World War II Navy veteran and has only dated or been with Lucille his whole life, and when she passed, it was very difficult. "When December 1 hits, my dad gets really sad," Brito added.
Brito thought of ways to make her father's grief-stricken mood better as December drew closer to the anniversary of Lucille's passing. "Dad loves getting mail," the 64-year-old revealed. "I thought maybe some Christmas cards would make him happy." A couple of years back, on Facebook, she requested that her family and friends send her father a Christmas card to cheer him up. Thirty or so of them did, much to her delight, and Brito decided to do this every year. Now, Dowling receives heartfelt holiday wishes from family, friends, and even complete strangers. 2018 saw 102 letters sent to him.
They'd been doing this almost every year, but this year, when Dowling's granddaughter Charlene Fletcher's post ended up going viral on social media and reached some local news outlets, he received over 10,000 cards in just eight days. Cards have come in from every one of the 50 states and even from other countries. Some of them were written by kids, while others were by grownups. Many messages express sympathy for Dowling's holiday loss while others add cute Christmas illustrations.
Dowling shared that reading the cards is helpful because it "keeps my mind busy." Brito shares that her father examines every card and letter that is sent to them before proudly taping them on the walls all over their home. In addition to cards, Dowling has also gotten candy, cheese platters, plush animals, gift cards, pajamas, and hand-knitted clothing. Dowling has four children, three granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren. Along with a note and an ornament from the White House Historical Association, he also received correspondence and gifts from regional leaders.
“I can’t stop smiling for him,” his daughter said. Even though he still misses his wife, he shares that this holiday season has been pleasant because of the unanticipated outpouring of affection from people close and far.
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Suzan Brito