Merrimack Valley Life

Move over, Tooth Fairy!

The Booze Fairy is in town, bearing liquid joy & gifts for adults during pandemic

Susan McLean of Salem called for secrecy as she “fairy’d” someone in Salem. Courtesy photo

Susan McLean of Salem called for secrecy as she “fairy’d” someone in Salem. Courtesy photo

There are groups of anonymous wine and adult-beverage deliverers across many communities in New Hampshire, New En­gland and the United States. The concept took hold and grew strong during COVID- 19 isolation as a way of supporting moth­ers during coronavirus lockdowns.

The most recognized fairy group in the Granite State is built around a private Facebook page called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Spirits NH. Jamie Gibbs started the group that covers a large swath of New Hampshire and a few towns in abutting states.

The description on the Sisters of the Traveling Spirits NH (STSNH) page lays out the program.

“This group is for people who would like to spread some happiness and a little fun during tough times. Spread some joy to one another! Knock em down and pass them around! Goodie bags of wine, liquor, soda, whatever you fancy. Snacks or prizes of any kind! Please let us know what you like so a fairy can drop off a gift for you.”

Gibbs said, “I started this group on May 4, 2020 because with everything going on in the world today (or even in general), we all need a smile. When giving to someone (kind words, booze, a hug… anything) it makes them happy and joyful; and in turn makes you happy. There is no better feeling than to know that you have made someone’s day! You never know what that person has going on behind closed doors … a simple gesture could mean the world to them. There is so much depression, confusion and chaos going on right now. If we all stop, take a breath, and turn to each other and lean on each other (even in this fun way) in our communities, we can get through anything thrown our way.”

Susan McLean of Salem makes and often includes colorful masks in her fairy pack­ages, like the Wonder Woman mask she is wearing. Courtesy photo

Susan McLean of Salem makes and often includes colorful masks in her fairy pack­ages, like the Wonder Woman mask she is wearing. Courtesy photo

“My inspiration for the group was my mother and my cousin. They are both in Maryland and were involved in a group like this. My cousin just finished radiation and was delivered a bag of goodies … and if you could see how happy and apprecia­tive, she was … it was amazing!” Gibbs said. “I had been trying to figure out ways to help around my community and this is Step One for me. With the lockdown there wasn’t a lot you could do….but you can al­ways find a way to make someone smile.”

Christina Chalifour of Salem comman­deers the dining room table as she puts baskets together. Courtesy photoyour

Christina Chalifour of Salem comman­deers the dining room table as she puts baskets together. Courtesy photoyour

Many people obviously agree that there is a need.

“We have 8,000 members over about 115 towns. 98% are in New Hampshire, and a couple towns here or there in the surrounding Mass and Maine borders,” Gibbs said. “We show 164 Salem NH members that have posted an intro on the page, and 181 Salem members who have entered their name on the spreadsheet to be ‘fairy’d.’ So we can assume Salem has anywhere from 181 members and up.”

A surge of early adopters was more than one small group could handle.

“We had to temporarily close our mem­bership because the growth was so large and fast, and we couldn’t keep up. How­ever, we just opened our doors a couple weeks back again and made the group visi­ble for all to find and join,” Gibbs added.

The premise is simple. If a new mem­ber would like to be “fairy’d,” they post an introduction about themselves on the Face­book page. Then a spread sheet is updated with addresses and beverages of choice, if the member wishes to receive a fairy visit. Not all members want to be recipients; some prefer to be fairies exclusively. Fair­ies determine who to surprise and where they’d like to travel. They create a package to drop anonymously at another member’s door. There’s no guarantee members will be “fairy’d” and there are no restrictions on what will be delivered. There are, in fact, very few rules at all. Basically, members must be 21 years old, maintain social distancing which is why these are “ding-dong-ditch” encounters, be positive and uplifting, post pictures on the page of any package received, and be honest about status.

An unidentified sales clerk at the Salem branch of the NH State Liquor stores said she sees lots of Fairies: “You can tell who they are by the number and variety of nips they purchase.”

Gibbs’ group places no restrictions on what people give: “You do not know what financial place someone is in. It’s about giving but that does not mean you have to spend money to give. There is a woman who was making handmade cards, and it was the sweetest gesture and put a smile on so many faces.”

Christina Chalifour is a Salem Fairy who became a member just days after the group started. She’s been a recipient twice and has “fairy’d” others five times in four different towns.

“My niece sent me an invite and it came a time where I felt it was important to do something fun for all of us ladies out here dealing with COVID. For me, it’s all about sharing a small gesture and token, and knowing it lets someone else know they are special. I’m thankful to be a part of a group of caring women in our com­munity. Being a ‘giver’ doesn’t have to be extra fancy or cost a lot of money. I have seen bottles of Dom Perignon baskets, and also baskets with nicely painted rocks. It’s about the sharing!”

Susan McLean of Salem has been “fairy’d” twice and made 25 deliveries.

“My friend invited me to join. I’ll say that I was really skeptical at first, not really understanding what I was being invited to. When I first read ‘Sisterhood of the Trav­eling Spirits’ I didn’t think spirits meant alcohol! The best part as a recipient is the bag itself. Just knowing that someone found joy in delivering. Of course, bottles of booze, candles and chocolate go a long way too … chocolate and cocktails are essential during crises.”

For McLean being a fairy means con­necting and being part of a community even while keeping socially distant.

“I’ve made 25 deliveries so far, and am at a point where I have encouraged friends or those I’ve fairied NOT to fairy me. When I first started going through my spreadsheet, I found four women on my street. My street only has about 20 houses on it. These were women I’ve never met. They were the first to be fairied. I met one of them just yesterday. I was taking packages out of my car (that may or may not contain more fairy goodies) and she was driving by. She thanked me in person. We started talking and we learned we both were making masks. We shared ideas and contacts for supplies. The woman who caught me was having a really rough day; getting her young children ready to go back to daycare; she was stressed and grateful for the timing. I knew I belonged. Spreading kindness is needed now more than ever. This is good for the soul, espe­cially mine. I think my spirit animal is a fairy.”

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