A happy story for Christmas Day

25 Dec

As we near the day we can finally say goodbye to a difficult 2020 and welcome a fresh new 2021, it helps to remember that some good things actually did come out of this awful year. Here’s a story about one of them.

Almost every week since the beginning of April, 5-year Julia Meyers has been playing virtual Yahtzee with her new friend Marion, a resident of Maplewood Nursing Home.

Julia and Marion playing via Google Duo

They get together via Google Duo, usually on Tuesday afternoons, and spend about a half hour playing one game of Yahtzee, each using her own dice and board. Marion is assisted by Maplewood’s Volunteer Coordinator Lori Porte, and Julia’s mom Linda helps her. But despite the board-side assistance, there’s plenty of excitement and conversation passed back and forth between the competitors themselves. And judging from the end of the game I watched earlier this week, the competition is pretty fierce.

It was Linda who originally came up with the idea as a way to have Julia connect with one of the residents.

I reached out to The Maplewood when the pandemic started because I was looking for a way my daughter could give back during these hard times. My grandmother spent time at Maplewood before she passed away in 2014 so that was my connection.

They first tried just video-chatting with another resident, but that didn’t work very well. Someone came up with the idea to play a game instead, and suggested Yahtzee. Lori found a resident whom she thought would be able to follow along pretty well and enjoy playing with somebody she’d never met before.

The games were on.

Both young and old have benefited from the weekly interactions. Julia gets to practice her math and number-writing skills. Marion enjoys seeing Julia and her 5-month old brother William every week.

The games have forged a friendship that reaches beyond the computer screen. Just before Thanksgiving, they even got to “meet” through the window. Marion and Lori used the occasion to give Julia a wooden jewelry box inscribed with her name. Before they presented the gift, Marion even asked Lori to line its drawers with purple felt, Julia’s favorite color.

More recently, Julia and Linda gave Marion her own Yahtzee game for Christmas — so she didn’t have to continue using Maplewood’s game — and a frame with a picture from the window visit, where Marion can keep track of the Yahtzee scores. Recently, Linda even discovered that one of Marion’s children is a neighbor of theirs.

The overall game score is pretty close. Julia won again on Tuesday, so she’s up 15 games to 13. But Marion needn’t worry. She’ll have plenty of chances to catch up. Julia said she’s planning to keep playing the games for “29,000 years.”

* * *

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6 Responses to “A happy story for Christmas Day”

  1. Pat Sweetland December 25, 2020 at 9:29 am #

    What an awesome story! And, Julia’s Mom is a pretty awesome Mom!

    • Linda December 28, 2020 at 12:06 pm #

      Thank you!! I try my best 😊

  2. kjterp December 25, 2020 at 10:55 am #

    Thanks for this story! Love it! Karen

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Jacqueline LaBarge December 25, 2020 at 3:17 pm #

    Thank you for sharing ….such a Hallmark Channel Feel good story ❤️

  4. Judy Chernak, Julia's great grandma December 27, 2020 at 5:16 pm #

    Sometimes tears are a good thing ….. so I’m ok with mine just now!

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