A New Year’s Wish For My Readers


As the hours tick away and we prepare to leave 2008 behind, I thought of a paragraph from our Christmas letter this year.  I hope and trust that each of you has a blessed, and peaceful 2009.  May the message in this paragraph be your guide at some point along the way.

Perhaps none other than the quiet act of getting a child to giggle and smile comes to mind as a way to close out the memory book for the year.  A small girl named Marie lives on our block and walks with her parents past our place every day.  Her parents are here from France for a UW-Madison project, and as such, the little girl only speaks French.  While James speaks and teaches the French language, and so connected easily with the girl, my English language sounded like gibberish to her, and since she did not have many other such speakers around her on a daily basis, it made her unsure and timid when I was around.  But being just a big kid, I knew there had to be a way to break through, and get her to smile.  So after weeks of meeting a stony-faced child I saw my opening one spring day.  I picked up a dandelion that had sprouted on the lawn and developed to the point that it was white with feathery seeds.  I brought it to her, and just about the time, she reached for it blew the many white seeds to the wind.  She looked…..stared….and then broke into a major grin.   So off I went to get another one…….  There is a lesson in there about living life and finding new ways to see the world and be content with life.

I hope that as you journey into 2009 it is a peaceful one with good cheer, and hope for brighter days.  And when you meet a challenge know the answer may be nothing more than a dandelion that has lost its color but still has a purpose.

New Jib Jab Video: 2008 In Review

Delivering Donated Toys To Madison Children’s Hospital

If you want to read an uplifting post as we close out the year give me a minute of your time.  I hope you will agree that this was worth it.

Yesterday James and I made a stop at the UW Children’s Hospital in Madison.  It was there in the lobby area that I saw something that made my heart fill up with emotion.

A family from Chilton had brought down a moving van of toys for the children.  That was not a typo.  A moving van of toys.  I ventured over and struck up a conversation with one of the family members to learn that several years ago a 3-year-old girl in their family had died at the hospital.  The parents of the child said that something good had to come out of the tragedy, and so the large extended family or aunts, uncles, and cousins worked all year long to gather toys and items for need at the hospital.  They gathered so much they had to bring it all in a moving van.  And they do this every year.

There were large piles of everything imaginable, and it all was being loaded into cute little wagons that some of that family then took to be distributed to kids, with lots of it to be placed in areas where kids yet to come and stay in 2009 will find it.  I swear that no one standing in that lobby seeing this take place, and hearing this story, could not help but have a lump in their throat.  One could feel the love.  It was more than an emotion.  It was a tangible thing.

James and I just happened to be at the hospital as we had worked with Culvers in Middleton to have toys donated, and were bringing in the bags of items that were collected at the restaurant.  Christmas took on an even more meaningful tone as we did more than just contribute toys as we had in previous years, but got more involved.   When the wonderful folks at Culvers in Middleton needed help with promotion of the event, along with a driver to load the toys up and deliver them to the hospital, I said anyway I could help all they needed to do was ask.  Culvers took me up on the offer, and it was one of the most perfect things we did for others this holiday.     There was a tremendous turnout of wonderful toys of all kinds donated for the kids.  

I would like to say thanks to each person who donated an item.  The heartfelt expression for these kids is a most remarkable statement about the true character of Dane County.  In addition, I want to say how kind and outgoing the owners and all the employees of Culvers in Middleton proved to be again this holiday season.  With each toy donated they gave a scoop of their famed custard, and also worked to promote the project, and provided large boxes to place the toys, along with storage space.  When there is a team of people who care as much as they do only good can result.

But all this does not stop here.

I plan to connect with a reader of this blog who works at the hospital, and who offered me a tour.  I know the work they do is impressive, and needless to say the kids are mighty special.  I plan to be even more involved with this effort next year. 

In the very small way we were able to play a part this Christmas season made the ‘reason for the season’ all the more real.

Below is a picture of James, and some of the many items donated by the folks of Dane County.