The passing of breast cancer fighter Stefanie Spielman has caused a collective pause in our city and beyond.

The passing of breast cancer fighter Stefanie Spielman has caused a collective pause in our city and beyond.

A loyal wife and mom, she fought a very public battle with the disease, and did so with humor and grace. It's times like these that make me pause to give thanks for those in my life, and for the many blessings I've received.

I met Stefanie once at a breast cancer fundraiser for another public cancer fighter, Heather Pick. They were like two peas in a pod, making each other laugh and sharing private jokes - all while inspiring others.

I ask that you keep these families, and all those dealing with life's challenges, in your prayers during the holidays. And in the spirit of both of these amazing women: pay it forward.

Start by going to ColumbusParent.com throughout the month of December for our second-annual 12 Days of Giving series. From December 9 through 24, we highlight area non-profits that are counting on your time, talent and treasure to help those in need.

Last year around this time I took a drive to Cleveland to see the house where the movie A Christmas Story was partially filmed. People either love or hate the movie.

Truthfully, I have a hard time sitting through the film because it makes me so anxious; especially the flagpole part. But there are scenes that make me laugh out loud every time. Like the "fra-jee-lay" major award (a.k.a. the leg lamp), and the dogs devouring the turkey Ralphie's mom worked so hard to prepare for Christmas dinner.

Love it or hate it, read our story Beyond the Leg Lamp in this issue. It will surely make you chuckle. And don't miss all the great photos on our Web site, too!

Check out our second-annual Holiday Gift Guide! Items in the Guide were hand-picked and tested by our staff. This section will help narrow down ideas for your kids, nieces and nephews, and even yourself! Plus, TheBAG Lady weighs in on where to find gifts at great prices.

Thinking of throwing a holiday soire? Think twice about how you address those invitations - you could end up with a bunch of kiddos at your adults-only event. Read our story about when it's appropriate for kids to come with.

Finally, our story on the blessings of multiples will make you happy to be a parent. The anecdotes from these big families, including those from their sibs, are truly heart warming.

In a year filled with economic turmoil, I propose we all give back - however we are able. One random act of kindness leads to another, and another, changing the world for the better, just a little bit at a time.

Happy holidays!