Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tell Us A Story

As you probably already know, Kate has a thing about Target, and the magical things that happen there, like tea parties and treasure hunts. She also likes to tell stories that she doesn't suck at telling.

So we started seeing a trend a few days ago when emails started coming in that were telling us their stories about what happened when certain moms of MommyLand went out to their mailboxes and found red Target envelopes and WalMart envelopes and all kinds of envelopes with all kinds of surprises inside.

And, Kate called Lydia and said, "See, hooker! I told you Target was freakin' magical." And then Lydia tried to remind her that Kate was the one that had been all cynic-y and snitchy about the Hooker Experiment. But fortunately, Kate had stopped listening at that point...

We think the thing we didn't expect in this grand experiment was the stories. We read the most heart-wrenching stories from moms who needed help and the most amazing stories from moms for the reasons they wanted to help. [Editor's Note: One mom had lost her son, and wanted to send a gift to the mom of a son, just so she could remember what it was like. To that mom who wrote us that letter, thank you for the reminder of how special those tiny humans are, especially when they're making us crazy. I hope you don't mind me sharing a moment of your story. - Kate]

So, before we officially close the door on the Helping Hookers Experiment, we want to hear your stories. Many of you have written, and we've read them all and called each other and laughed and cried and really, stop making Kate cry. She never does it, so she's super out of practice, so it's really awkward and not Dawson-like at all.

We don't want to share those stories you've sent us without your permission. Many of you have asked for anonymity, but many of you have stories you want to share. The Story of the Trip to the Mailbox. The Story of the Red Envelope. The Story I'll Tell My Children About Christmas. So, please. Tell Us A Story. Your story. Send it to us at and put "My Story" in the subject line. We'll post them over the days around Christmas.

And somewhere in the reading, your hooker will see her name, or her city, or maybe she'll just recognize your name (if you want to share it) and she'll know what our kids always have known. That Christmas happens in the magic, in the quiet. And sometimes, even in the Target.

xoxo Kate and Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. I'm a 17 year old girl with no babies (phew!)I I just wanted to say how much I love you guys and that because of you my friends are randomly called hookers. You make me smile every. Freaking. Day. And this experiment? Coming from a family that relied on toys for tots and other family members for Christmas until I was about 13it it made me cry. The gut wrenching ugly cry. Eww. If you try again next year, I'm totally going to be a helping hooker. Thanks for the year round smiles and laughs ladies <3

  2. I was unable to participate on either side of being a hooker (had to say it that way) but your post today helped remind me about the spirit of the season.

    THANK YOU for doing this.
    (we are 0 paychecks away from being able to help and 1 paycheck away from needing help)

    The last sentence had me crying and DH muttering "oh boy, not again" (makes him uncomfortable to see a damsel cry...poor thing, there are 4 of us in this house).

    Looking forward to the stories!

    p.s. Target is THE best! they even take the time to help a child count out her money to buy socks and underwear for the giving tree at school!!!!

  3. For the past week or so, whenever I feel annoyed by all the Christmas crap I have to do, I come back to this page, read through the comments and my grouchy, irritable soul is soothed and I feel the true meaning of Christmas again. I find myself day dreaming about the mommy I helped being able to shop for presents, and sleeping a little better at night knowing she could give her little guys/girls something they wished for... I can't thank you enough for allowing me to be part of this experiment. Who would have thought that I would ever be proud to be called a Hooker?

  4. This made me ugly cry into my coffee. Not pretty. But beautiful. Thanks. And Merry Christmas Hookers - y'all are the best.

  5. I so wish I could have been a helping hooker! I just lost my job at the beginning of the month and while we're not quite at the point of needing help, I couldn't give any either. I just wanted to tell you, and all the hookers, that you give me renewed faith in humanity. You guys rock.

  6. I was one the first to send in my address for help, 3 kids, I don't work, but hubby does. Got a Walmart gc, very excited. Then was talking to a friend at church, single mom, 2 kids, she's a waitress (people aren't tipping) so I gave her my gc, she needed it more than me. So thanks to my Hooker in WI, she Blessed 2 families and turned me into a Hooker!!

  7. Damn it! This experiment of your has made me teary since the beginning. But "wanted to send a gift to the mom of a son, just so she could remember what it was like" has me ugly crying. Although I do agree that it may not be pretty but it is beautiful. Thanks. :)

  8. Y'all gonna make me ugly cry for the next 10 days aren't you? Next year I hope to be able to help you hookers. Love your guts.

  9. I, too, am crying in my coffee. Today happens to be my son's 10th birthday and I have been reflecting on all the good he has and it breaks my heart to think otherwise. I'm so glad I was able to help another mom celebrate with her children. I look forward to reading the Stories if moms will share.

    Can't thank you ladies enough for doing this.

  10. I received Hooker Mail on a day that I really needed it. I'm a a parent of a medically fragile child, who is trying to get myself through school, married to someone who went on disability in the last few months after struggling with multiple medical issues.

    It's been really hard this year, and this Monday, I was feeling really shitty over the lack of money, people calling me selfish for being in school, and freaking out because the kid had just hit a growth spurt and needs jeans, and pajamas, let alone a gift. Behold, $50 from Hooker Heaven in the form of a Wal-Mart Card! I was blown away by my card - return address was Hooker, 100 Whuck Drive, Anytown, USA.

    We were always the family who gave to those in need, and it's so hard to be a needy family. It hurts that for the first time, we can't give anything away to charity but out time. This made it easier, and far less lonely. You all get it. You get that moms make the hard choices, even if those on the outside don't get it (like school - long term earning potential is good). You get that those of us with challenging home situations do what we must, often with criticism from Real Life and Domestic Enemies, and sometimes, our internet Hooker Family is it.

    So thank you, all of you. And to our Head Hookers - you did great. Be proud of yourselves. You've started a movement.

  11. Sent out my card this morning, crying all the while! Thank you H00kers for making me believe in the spirit of Christmas again. Y'all are the best hookers around!

  12. LMAO!
    Anon. that was awesome! "Head Hookers", "Hooker Heaven", "100 Whuck Dr."
    Man, you Hookers have some Creativity!
    LOVE. IT.

  13. Thank you to my PA Hooker, got my envelope yesterday, green note inside with target gift card, my address as the return address. You don't know how much this means to me! My son will have a Christmas this year! It is his first Christmas and I am pregnant again due in June! THANK YOU HOOKER! <3 T.D.

  14. Sigh. Sitting here, crying in my office, pretending there is just "something" in my eye.

    You guys ROCK and so does everyone else who participated in this freakin' awesome hooker experiment.

    Pat yourself on the shoulder, pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up and bask in the knowledge you just helped someone out. You should be very proud :-)

  15. I'm crying too. Ugly cry. And I NEVER cry. I'm blaming all you hookers. You are wonderful (especially the fabulous Lydia and Kate). I am fortunate enough to be on the giving end this year, and am glad that somewhere a special hooker mama is able to buy her son(s)/daugther(s) something special for the holiday. You have really reminded me what the season is all about. Thank again Hookers (for the holiday spirit, not the ugly cry)!!!

  16. LMAO - I am doing the same thing....sitting here at work pretending there is something in my eye....only I am a receptionist and the phone keeps ringing....and it is DAMN hard for a Hooker to answer the phone all choked up. I love you guys!

  17. Getting all choked up and I haven't even read any of the stories yet!

  18. I was so happy to help a fellow Canadian Hooker, and I hope she's found her red envelope. The best kind of help starts with individuals helping each other. I wish I could have sent her enough to buy a whole big shiny, crazy, too much of everything kind of a Christmas...but I hope my envelpe made this year a whole lot easier for another mom. You rock for making this happen. Like Yoda says: "Do or Do Not. There is no try."

  19. couldn't possibly be more thankful than i am right now. got my hooker card today and i can't believe how many people out there are willing to help. shana cofield, i can't thank you enough for helping my family. i will find a way to pay it forward.

  20. I am a Hooker helped...
    We got our card a few days ago. Absolutely started freaking out in our oh-so-wonderful minivan, after we checked the mail. I started talking all fast and gibberish-y, apparently (because of the dumbfounded look on his face), and telling my fiancee about the Hooker thing. The look on his face was priceless. I said, I am a Hooker, helped! Again, the look on his face...
    I told him about the Helping Hookers, and showed him the card. I told him how I had sent in my name, and that we just got a card (with a Target giftcard inside!) from another Hooker!
    I cannot thank my Helping Hooker enough. I adore you. You helped to make Christmas possible for us. And reignited my spirit and faith in humanity, that not all people suck...there are still awesome people out there. Makes me proud to be a Hooker!

  21. When you cry/laugh while looking at your iPhone at the airport people look at you oddly.

    Thanks for giving me an opportunity to help out!

  22. RFML, Target and Secret Hooker Santas ROCK!

    I'm a single momma of a 12 yo and I've been out of a job since the beginning of summer, until just recently. Just got my second paycheck today. It really all needs to go to rent as I'm more then $3000 behind with them alone. I can't tell you how grateful I am that management is being understanding but I have a ton of other built up bills too. When I told my boy earlier that he could pick one thing for Christmas and he said an xbox360 I cried. He said he knew it was big and it was ok if he didn't get any other presents or stocking stuffers cause whenever we get them from the Dollar Store they are crappy (his words :) anyways, and he doesn't want to have a bunch of junk that is going to break or just sit on his floor cause he doesn't play with it and he doesn't want alot of crap laying around that makes it harder for him to clean his room (again, his words - smart kid). He also said it was ok if all of my family works on it together cause he knows it will cost alot and he was really ok with that being the only present he gets this year. And then I cried some more. Even with fam help, it would have been seriously hard, they're all having a tough time too.

    I got 2 cards in the mail yesterday. My wonderful, amazing, miraculous Hooker sent me 2!My incredible Santa Hooker sent me a Target card for $75 and another to Walmart for the same! I found an awesome deal at Target for an xbox360 Kinect w/2 controllers for $365 that comes with a free $80 gift card! My boy is only hoping for the 360 and I got it all for about $210 after cards. $10 more than the cost of the xbox by itself! And the Walmart card will cover both games he's hoping for! With my family helping too, he gets his wish for Christmas filled! Whoo HOO! He's gonna be so excited!!!!! RFML, S. Truher of Hillsboro, Or, and Target, I can not tell you how absolutely amazed I am for my son to get his wish. Thank you!

    I really hope you wonderfull angelic hookers do this again next year! I would love to help another family feel as blessed as I do right now.

  23. I submitted "My Story" thanks for making me cry again! My hooker (yes that is what I call her) isn't a hooker at all but a true "Ms. Santa". Thank you!

  24. Crying into my tea. DAMN IT!
    We can pay all of our bills on time but it has been a rough year as we recently had twins. They are 13months old now (come on! That's recent, right?) and we still live in a one bedroom apartment. We all co-sleep, in part because we believe in it and in part because we don't have the space for two cribs.

    This year we feel rich because we can fly home to see my family (from CA to CT) so we bought each boy a small under $20 toy and sent the rest of our left over holiday money ($50) to another Hooker.

    Happy Holidays, thanks for making us feel wealthy!

  25. I just hate things that make me cry at work! What an amazing thing you have done. Cheers!!

  26. I love this project -- I love that you guys took it on.
    I am a HUGE fan of paying it forward -- and especially of doing it anonymously when possible. The "doing something to make someone smile -- just because" gets me all giddy.
    I got that trait from my parents -- and it's my favorite part about myself. And it comes especially from my dad.
    I can't remember the number of times I would get a card in the mail, and it would have $5 or $50 in it, and he'd write " just because". And it always came when I needed it the most. "The Gas Fairy" would always fill the tank of my car when he visited. And he was the guy who would always jump in to help someone, anyone, even if they didn't ask, just because he knew they needed it.
    Thing is, he passed away 5 years ago, and I feel lost without him some days. And this project really brought him back to me. His spirit was right next to me as I was putting together my envelope and dropping it off at the post office.
    I even signed "Hooker K and Pimp-Daddy Ray" on my card so he got his due credit :)

    The gluttony and obnoxiousness from my kids (who don't know any better, despite our reminders -- I know it will sink in one of these days!) is headed this way in the next week and a half - and I really dread it. As far as I'm concerned, when that card hit the mailbox, "My Christmas" was done. I want to keep this feeling in my heart!

    So for this huge undertaking that you created, I say thank you. a HUGE thank you. Thanks for the Spirit. Thanks for bringing my dad a little closer for a few days. (He's really proud of you girls!!) Thanks for making everyone's holiday season a little brighter -- the Hookers and the Hook-ees. You guys did a great job. Be proud.

  27. I got my card today. I can't believe how blessed this season is turning. I reached out feeling really uncertain about asking. I was looking at the end of the year with dread; an empty oil tank, no wood pellets for the stove, an empty fridge...You know the sob stories... I work part-time, husband works two jobs, and this is the year our daughter notices the holidays.

    Right after I asked, my father's Elks Lodge donated a box of toys for our daughter. Then I won a $10 gift card at work. And today I opened a very generous $50 gift card from a helping friend. It really is a miracle that I'll be able to dress my husband in a clean uniform and get my daughter some new art supplies.

    I fell like simply by asking, and being heard without judgement and answered with love, it opened the universe to providing for us in a time of great stress and fear.

    This experiment worked ladies. You have restored my faith. Thank you. You are Santas.

  28. I'm taking care of my Dad, who broke his hip last week. Oh, did I mention that's because I gave him a dog that dragged him across the parking lot at the vet. But enough about me....

    I have been so waylaid taking care of Dad and trying to keep my head above water, I had completely fallen behind in my RFML reading. So I was completely excited when I read about the Experiment. And then equally bummed when I read three posts later that I was too late....our family has been very fortunate this year and I thought about how much joy I could send someone.

    Even though I didn't get to help my Mommyland friends, I took the missed opportunity to pick up a couple extra ornaments off the giving tree at my girls' school.

    Katie and Lydia, you so did not fail in your experiment. If anything, I think it was a huge success and that there are a lot of us out there thinking outside the box!

  29. I got my envelope today and the first thing I did was sit down and the floor with my twins and tell them that Santa is real and that no child is ever forgotten! Mama wasn't forgotten either. I will happily download some of my favs with the itunes card I received! Thank you, Paulie, our Hooker from Colorado! We love you!


  30. This blog & spontaneous gift-giving has been one of the few bright spots during our build-up to Christmas this year. I'm grateful that I was able to contribute to another mom's holiday. I was blessed to be a mom after years of infertility when my miracle child made his first appearance on an 8-week ultrasound seven years ago. Now my child is a healthy, happy kindergartener and I'm trying to explain to him how this is the season of giving not getting. Also trying to explain his grandmother's (my mother's) cancer struggles and why she cannot come to visit as often as he would like her to. So from one blessed mom in honor of her mom to another mom in need, merry Christmas!

  31. A Helped Hooker Named Suzanne in TNDecember 15, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    Thank you hookers for making me cry. A good cry is cleansing to our filthy little muddled up souls every now and again. I am forever grateful to my hooker, Meagan in Geneva, IL. Thank you Kate & Lydia for setting all of this up to help so many of us out.
    Merry Christmas Snitches!

  32. I'm going to send in my story - I want my Hooker to know just what this means to me - but that will take time, and I have to say this now.

    I just want to send a HUGE thank-you to Barbara in TX. I'm crying, my husband (the big, tough, BAMF veteran Soldier) is crying. You gave our son a Christmas he wasn't going to have. We tried and tried, but just couldn't do it. You did it for us, and there aren't enough words to fully express how we feel. You have family here in Florida now, and we love you. Thank you so very, very much.

  33. Also sent in my story but wanted to post really quick to let my Helping Hookers know that I am so thankful to them for hooking this hookers kids up! Tani in OH and Cristen in CA, I love you!!! Blessings, love and light are my wishes for you. Thank you so much! I promise to pay it forward.

  34. I got my red envelope in the mail and started crying. My husband was kind of dumbfounded as to why anyone was sending me mail that said "Merry Christmas, Hooker". She sent me a Walmart card for my kiddies and a Starbucks card for a mommy only treat. (I told the hubby I would share it with him.) HI! Staphanie in Ohio!....that's my sister hooker who hooked this hooker up. :)

  35. I am a high school teacher. I sat with my students today and they cannot stop talking about Christmas and the gifts they will receive.
    One said that she hoped her mother didn't make the same mistake as last year. . . she bought her the wrong kind of Uggs. One listed all the electronics she will be getting (laptop, digital camera and new cellphone). This continued for quite awhile. Then they asked how much I was going to spoil JP, my son, for his very first Christmas.
    I told them about the family tradition we are starting with him. Stocking stuffers, new PJs for Christmas Eve and 4 gifts: something he wants, something he needs, something to do as a family and something to read. They were aghast! "Only four presents. That's all?"
    I explained that it was all he needed. I explained how I truely hope that the gift that allows family time someday becomes the most treasured. I explained that doing this allows us to keep the true spirit of Christmas alive . . . the giving and how I had helped three families this Christmas instead of just spoiling my own. A family from my school that was adopted by the staff, my sister (learning to be a military wife) by sending her some dough for my nephew's presents, and the family I "hooked" for. That last one required quite a bit of explanation.
    It made every single one of them stop and think. One said she needs to be more thankful for what she actually has. One said that this was something she needed to keep in mind when she had her own family.
    To all the hookers who give-Way to go! We are examples for our children and others who see what we do.
    To all the hookers who receive-Way to go! You are examples to all of us who see what you do to provide the best possible life and holiday for your children.

  36. Awesome! That is the only word I can come up with to express my feelings about this Hooker thing. I am sitting here crying too as I read these comments. What an awesome thing that y'all have done. I didn't participate this year, but you can definitely count me in as a Helping Hooker for next year. Love you guys!

  37. I can't believe I am about to say how amazing Walmart is twice in one week! So I got my 2nd name and decided to try Target this time for the red envelope. BUT, I live overseas and Target won't let me onto their website. Boo. So Walmart, thank you for being so open and generous. I just hope my hooker gets her card in time to shop for xmas.

  38. Dear Hookers (I love saying that...makes me giggle!),

    I sent in my name asking for some hooker help. This year has been a very difficult for us, well the past few years actually. This year, however, there wasn't going to be anything under the tree at all for my kids. My 17 year old told me he didn't want anything, just to try to get some things for the girls. Well, when I asked for help, I never expected such generosity.

    I received a gift card from Wal-Mart and I cried when I opened it. I couldn't even read the postmark, so I have no I idea even where to direct my gratitude to. I went shopping and was able to get each of my 3 children something they wanted and was so happy and ready for Christmas morning. Then the other day I received a card from Target! I never expected a 2nd card. It was from a wonderfully generous person with the initials C.W. and they are from Duram, NC. So today I went to the big red store and hit the dollar bins and was able to get enough things to fill their stockings to overflowing. I can not tell you how much this has meant to our family.

    My son happened to see the card from Target and that was very interesting explaining to him why Hookers sent us a gift card. His very questions was, "Isn't that a little backwards, I thought people gave Hookers money!" Yes, my boy is such the comedian. He did cry when he realized that his little sisters will have presents under the tree and he has yet to realize that there will be presents for him as well.

    Thank you ladies, and thank you to all the generous Hookers out there. You have made 3 wonderful kids very happy, (and made their mommy ugly cry several times!).

    May God Bless you all!

    Lawrenceville, Ga

  39. I just turned 30, and I just found out from my mom that her friends at church used to give her money every year after my parents divorced so that she could buy us Christmas presents. And that the only way we got new clothes for the new school year was by Mom saving the Christmas gift (money) that her boss gave her every year. Being the oldest, I knew we didn't have much money, but I had no idea how close we came to not getting gifts at Christmas. When my mom told me all this a few weeks ago, it really changed the way I give to others. I didn't get to participate in this "experiment" because I had already given to several other Angel tree-type things, but I'm so grateful that there are so many of these types of programs out there that I can't even afford to help them all. To everyone who gave, God bless you!

    Oh and by the way, I remembered something else amazing a few days after she told me about this. Every Christmas, my mom gave each of us kids money to go buy our dad at present. Talk about selfless giving! You think he every did that for her???

  40. 18 months ago I lost my job of 8 years, when my boss decided to get rid of his experienced, qualified employees so he could save money by paying less to less experienced people. It was a betrayal by someone I had considered a friend as well as a boss; a trauma for more than financial reasons. Since then I have been working freelance, and I have been lucky that I have found work fairly easily. Although I'm not earning as much as I was, my time is more my own - which is useful as a mother of a 3 year old. So, anyway... a few days ago I was checking our bank balance and our savings, and I realized things weren't looking that bad. I worry about money all the time - we're trying for another child and I was so sick with my first pregnancy that I doubt I'll be able to work for at least half of the time I'm pregnant (should I be lucky enough to get pregnant, which isn't proving at all easy this time round).

    I looked at everything we have, and I realized that even with only my husband's teaching salary and what we have saved, we would still manage. We are doing ok. We aren't rich, and we spend carefully, but we're lucky with what we have.

    Then I just happened to check in to Rants from Mommyland for the first time in a few days, and read about the Hooker Experiment. I don't celebrate Christmas - I'm actually an observant Jew living in Jerusalem, but having just looked at our money situation and been reassured, how could I not offer my help to a Mom who needs it?

    I hope that the mom whose name I was given, who was 'nominated' by a friend - has a wonderful holiday season with her family.


  41. I sent an email for help with gifts for my kids for Christmas but didn't hear anything back :)

  42. forget speechless... this post has left me breathless. Beautiful!

  43. I grew up poor. It wasn't until the last 7 years or so that I could even afford to consider helping someone else. I was so happy that I could get a gift card for another mom and help her out. I felt so proud that I COULD do it. It wasn't much, but it was something. I hope next Christmas I can do more. I know that there were times when I was younger that even $25 would have been a huge help to me to buy food.

    That mom sent me a hand written thank you note, that I just got today. I cried. How nice of her to hand write a note of thanks. It was an amazing experience and I hope to repeat it again. Thank you for doing this.




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