Zoe’s Christmas wish 

I hope the festive season is all that you hoped for, that santa was kind and loved ones (where possible) were near. I have a story that I’d like to share, it’s my interpretation of what Christmas means and it doesn’t involve a Mary, or a donkey – it does however involve an awesome thirteen year old called Zoe and some light up Polar Bears. 

Let’s set the scene…it’s mid December and just before the real FC jumps in his sleigh and works some serious overtime the wonderful local Lions charity come around our village with a santa representative on a sleigh (back of a van) with loud music, lights and elves that collect change but also give the children gifts. Last year my little man adored it but sadly for all sorts of reasons the event wasn’t happening this year. 

Enter the heroine of this story, Zoe. I’ve never met Zoe but I have read Facebook messages from her mum on our village page. Zoe has the gift of Autism which means traditions are sacred to her daily structure and the Lions charity event formed part of her Christmas preparations. However it wasn’t the disruption to herself that was the cause of her angst, she was devastated that the children in our village would miss out…

In her words: ‘the children won’t get flutterbys (excited) if santa doesn’t come or give an early present. Mummy can we make a grotto in our garden? I will buy the presents myself with my pocket money and the children can come here to get flutterbys…I don’t want the children to be sad.’

Zoe took her own pocket money and bought lots of toys, she wrapped them and then a few days before Christmas, she (via her Mum on the Facebook page) invited the children of the village to her front garden, lights ( some seriously cute polar bears), sweets and a gifts were on offer and best of all (in my little mans eyes) a snow machine. 

Her Mum mean while was worried that nobody would attend. We did and so did many others. Unfortunately we arrived too early to meet Zoe as she was overwhelmed by the people and the noises and stayed in her room, popping in and out when she could. For Zoe the event that was a few hours in length caused sleepless nights and an abundance of anxiety. However, an update on the Facebook site later that evening thanking everyone for coming and mentioned that she did come down, stayed and even spoke to some people. That’s seriously courageous. 

I’m blessed to work with teenagers aged eleven to sixteen and they often have a bad reputation. I’ve also worked with Autistic children for most of my working life. The behaviour issues and negativity of the condition are well known rather than the potential they offer. At a time when people are consumed by wants and desires;  Zoe made the choice to give to complete strangers, she has taught my family about love, compassion and giving which is what the season is really about, isn’t it? 

The event also meant that Zoe had to defeat the constraints that Autism can have in order to be part of the event, she was resilient and in my  opinion brave. For one evening she over came the fear, the sensory overload and she won. She won my heart and she taught me and my son the true meaning of Christmas. 

*Thank you to Zoe and her Mum for letting me share this tale with you all. 

Storms don’t last forever 

Quote by Niels Geusebroek 

A new year is coming (fast)

Hope of a new year, resolutions and a fresh beginning are all something we need every now and then. 

Perhaps much like the celebrity and idol massacre of 2016 you haven’t enjoyed this year. For myself it’s been kind, but not a stand out year that I’ll always look back on…way better than 2015 though – that was dull. 

I always think that years are much like the weather system with a personal overview of hailstones or patchy clouds and bursts of sunlight. 

Storms can play a part. We have all had stormy events that hit our families, leaving devastation and carnage in their wake. You never know when a storm may hit either, I find that Mother Nature can hurl a tsunami at the most beautiful sunny beach without much warning…life can also come in waves of destruction when you least expect it. Much like the weather system a storm moves on and so do negative people, horrendous event and death. 

We live near a beautiful woods, there are still trees rotting from the storm of 1987 (a little tot at 5 years old I remember my Dad having to hold me down from ‘doing a’ Mary Poppins across my school playground) and it made me think…when an event much like a storm hits our lives, sure we move on (like the quote suggests) but we are richer for the experience, much like the soil under the trees destroyed by the storm, or we rot like the tree trunk – never to transform through the seasons or reach new heights.

The vast weather elements allow us to experience contrast, and I for one enjoy my sunny days of carefree blue skies that little more for knowing how wet shoes and damp hair (which in my case equals huge amounts of frizz) can feel. Like a tall tree that finds itself in a huddle on the Forest floor after the impact of a hurricane it wears its experience well, a new place to hide, or perhaps it supports moss and plant life…sure not the tall and elegant tree it once was, but like us it can still be beautiful after its experience – it’s simply a matter of perspective and growth.

With this in mind, I hope you have escaped any blustery winds in 2016 but should a storm hit you out of the blue in 2017 – emerge better, richer and fully in knowledge rather than allow the weather to consume you and of course love every glimpse of sun and joy you have the pleasure to experience.