Holidays with Holly Robinson Peete

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I first met Holly Robinson Peete a few years ago when her foundation HollyRod and mine, Myles-A-Part, were honored in Atlanta for our work with families living with Autism. I was struck immediately by her perfect harmony of “it factor” star power and completely accessible girlfriend-next-door-ness. Everything about Holly says endurance. Her defiantly gorgeous, youthful appearance. Her family’s years-long philanthropic work with Autism and Parkinson’s. Her three-decade career in show business. Someone like that must have a few things to say about traditions for our Holiday edition of MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS. She shed light on the great things behind and all the bright things she sees ahead in 2015.

TINA: Holly, one of the best things about the holiday season is spending time with family. From your foundation supporting Parkinson’s and Autism, two causes that have affected your family, the books you and your daughter have written, to all the awareness you and your family have raised, it seems that it’s always a family affair for you guys. Is it ever difficult to spend quality time together? And how do you create those opportunities?

Holly: It’s always difficult to cultivate and execute quality family time-especially the older they get. The kids are 9 to 17 years of age so their interests don’t overlap too much. We really have to work hard at it because soon they are off to college and that moment is gone. The one thing we all love to do is ski. It’s something I learned to love during my time on 21 Jump Street in Vancouver, BC in the mid 80s. But Rodney could never do it because of his NFL contracts. Once he retired-it was on and snowin’!

TINA: What is the greatest gift you received this year that money can’t buy?

Holly: The 50th birthday video made by my husband. He crushed that! From Oprah to Sam Jackson, from my kids to my best friend Terry—even my dogs were in it-it was Epic! It made me cry like a baby in front of 250 people!!

TINA: Did you have a best day in 2014? If so, why was it so awesome?

Holly: My 50th birthday party was my best day. I had way, way too much fun. I was surrounded by my friends, sang with En Vogue, danced with my kids, and Magic Johnson donated $50k to HollyRod Foundation in honor of my birthday. Best. Present. Ever. It was just exactly what I wanted the celebration to be. I didn’t want it to end, but the folks in Malibu did…LOL

TINA: You have an acting career that spans three decades. You’re an author and brand spokesperson, a sought-after host, and also a philanthropist. It seems that you have done it all. Is there an unexplored vista out there that excites you? An area you haven’t tackled yet that you look forward to exploring in 2015?

Holly: I have a new line of knits called Carpool Couture that I am trying to launch. There are just a handful African-American women with successful lifestyle brands and I really want that!

TINA: As a parting thought, does your family have any favorite holiday traditions you can leave us with?

Holly: We celebrate Kwanzaa. I really like this holiday. It’s all about principles, integrity, purpose, ancestry, cultural awareness etc. These are pretty pernicious times in our country now. For the first time since they were born, my kids have a lot of difficult questions about their race and how it relates to who they are, how they will be perceived in the work force. This is the first time I have felt I don’t have all the answers. The most important thing I want my kids to be is grateful. I always say Gratitude is the key to happiness. One of my favorite quotes is by William Arthur Ward: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

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