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Hilda and Mats and the Lost Sack of Presents

Every year I settle down to write a Holiday Story. I usually get it done earlier, but this year I had an Anti-Gun-Violence vigil on top of my other responsibilities. And I was tired. I didn’t know if there was even a story in me. But it seems there was. I actually now have another story flirting with me…

I’ve tucked the Story of Hilda and Mats below. They’re two young gnome children, who inspire their village to save the village of Winfield’s Christmas. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, share it with your friends. It was fun to write.

I hope your holiday is lovely and filled with everything that matters to you.

I wish us all Peace in this season, and in the year to come.



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“Greats” are really great

I come from a nuclear family full of worriers. There is no one better for catastrophizing than my mother.   It didn’t take long before she and my sister (who had always wanted me to have a biological child) were kvetching about whether or not it was a good idea for us to have taken on such a challenging child. Along with their worry came a bit of detachment – because their fear would have likely lead them to stop the adoption process, they were a bit slow to warm in their commitment to seeing our son as a full part of the family.

Without grandma fully there, there was another unexpectedly unfilled role in our village. Where was our wise and loving female elder who was going to love him unconditionally and bake him cookies right before we wanted him to eat a healthy dinner? The answer came in a woman I have adored myself since I was about the same age as he – my beloved aunt!   Auntie came with us on a week-long timeshare vacation and came with a full and open heart ready to love our boy with all of her being, just as she has my sister and I through our whole lives.   Watching the two of them together – doing puzzles, watching the birds, giggling in imaginative play – it was suddenly clear that “Grands” weren’t the only loving elders who could play a role in community!

Sometimes our immediate families aren’t our best supports.   Who else is there in the extended clan that might be there in your village in a role you didn’t consider? A beloved aunt? A cherished coach?   A favorite teacher? A church member? Love can be packaged in many ways…are you open to finding it in a different package than you expected?

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First Addition to the Village: Daycare

One of the first challenges in taking custody of a 4-year-old was in finding daycare. Lots of folks were quick to offer up recommendations – church and other private daycare programs that seemed ideal on the surface but that had stringent behavioral criteria for the children they cared for. Rules like “no biting”, “no bad language”, “no hitting” were amongst the offenses that could result in being asked to leave the program.   While I might have previously agreed that these offenses in a preschooler were suspension worthy, now that I had my own child who came preprogrammed with these as his default settings, I couldn’t take the gamble that he wouldn’t express his true colors all day long.

So then who in the community do we turn to that will provide daycare to our less than perfect young ones?  It didn’t seem that it was going to be the places that took care of our neighbor’s or colleague’s kids! Luckily, we found out that there are some AMAZING caregivers in publically funded Child Development Centers and Headstart programs providing nurturance, guidance, positive behavioral support and care to kids! I also don’t think that I could have found a more saavy and seasoned behavior manager who also managed to love our son at his most unlovable moments than I found in our beloved “Miss Danielle”.   We talked a lot with Miss Danielle over the year – trying to figure out what set off tantrums, how to soothe anger, how to build friendships, what rewards motivated good behavior – and when it was time to graduate from preschool, Miss Danielle had tears in her eyes as she presented our son with a signed book about a Little Engine that Could.

Sometimes members of our village aren’t where we expect them to be. Miss Danielle was not in the cushy private daycare that caters to the kids of professionals and receives fabulous ratings on all measures.   But boy were our preschool days better because of her presence with us! Where are you looking for your village? Who do you really want in your community? Are you stuck because the box in which you search is too limiting?   Perhaps it’s time to expand or abandon your box. Who knows, maybe your “Miss Danielle” is just on the outside of yours too…