It was the night before Christmas…

A long time ago I learned that the best thing for me to do at this time of year was to step aside from the fray and let the “professionals” do their thing, leaving me with the task of being the chief glad hander and merry maker while everyone else tends to the details. It leaves me the freedom to wander the campus, visit with our residents and staff, and wish them the season’s best.

As I make my rounds during the holiday, I am reminded that the true miracle of the season is that a large empty room at Hillsides becomes filled to the rafters with toys and gifts that help fulfill the hopes and dreams of all the children and families we serve. The call went out early in the season and it has been a steady convoy of cars and individuals bearing gifts. The chief elf this year was a rather unlikely character, large for an elf standing at better than six feet, wearing a bell around his neck in order to be detected in the stacked maze of toys and gift items. An elf’s day is long and requires great stamina but in spite of the holiday weariness each and every visitor to Santa’s workshop was greeted with a smile, a jingle of the bell, and a heartfelt thank you.

Since Hillsides is so special, Santa comes a few days early to visit our residents and so a walk around campus on Christmas Eve provides encounters with happy and grateful kids who continue to be awed by an all knowing Santa who clearly had rewarded them for how nice they have been this past year. Skateboards abound on our signature hills, basketballs are being broken in on the basketball court, and the familiar sounds of electronic games echo everywhere. New outfits are donned for a family visit or some of the many holiday festivities planned.

All in all it is a magical time of year when disappointments and hurts are put aside to spend time with people who love and care about one another. They are precious days that help to reset relationships and hope for a better new year.

To all our many volunteers and donors who so generously help us to create memories for all we serve, thank you. Without your support we would be unable to fulfill the hopes and dreams that are so important to the children and families in our care. May you and your family have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the comfort of knowing that your kindness this holiday season has made a wonderful difference for all those we serve at Hillsides.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

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