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End the Year with Cheer: Story time from far away

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 6:42 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - I don’t think I’m alone when I say that most of the communication I’ve had with my family in 2020 has been over the phone or FaceTime. It’s not perfect, but I figured I could use the platform to share a story that’s not about the coronavirus.

I held a virtual story time for some Camp Fire Alaska kids here in Anchorage. It being Christmastime, I shared one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books with them, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I thought it was particularly relevant this year, because of how many holidays the pandemic has tried to steal already.

It was a simple idea to bring some cheer that was inspired by my 5-year-old niece, Emily.

She’s an easy girl to brag about. Emily is about as cute as they make them and much more clever than her uncle was at that age. I love to ring up my sister’s phone just to talk to her, but she’s already figured out how to call me. It’s gotten to the point where if I see my sister’s caller ID, I already know whose face is going to pop up on my phone when I answer.

Emily lives back in Florida, where I’m from, so sometimes she’ll call me while I’m trying to make deadlines, but what kind of uncle would I be if I didn’t pick up?

Kids go through many phases, and I really love the one she’s in right now. This little girl will call me in the middle of my workday and beg that we can tell each other ghost stories. It’s almost surprising that I get anything done.

I like to think she inherited some storytelling skills from her uncle because she’s actually pretty good.

She always comes up with a different cast of characters, oftentimes original ones — that is, if it’s not her and some Disney princesses or the gang from Scooby-Doo going on a spooky adventure. Her favorite setup line is, “They came across a big scary house ... then when they go in through the front door, it slams right behind them!”

I’ve spent most of my time as a reporter moving around and working during the holidays. A lot gets in the way of young journalists seeing their families sometimes. It really wasn’t the pandemic that put most of my communication with my niece over FaceTime.

However, Emmy and I still have a really solid relationship. That got me thinking how grateful I am that things like FaceTime and Zoom exist, especially now.

That’s why I wanted to read the Camp Fire kids “The Grinch.” We’ve done so many stories at Alaska’s News Source about how hard kids have it during the pandemic without school, daycare or the time with their friends they were used to before the pandemic. This was a chance to actually do something to try and give them something to laugh and smile about.

I would have rather gone in to read to them in person, just like everyone would rather spend the holidays with their whole family. Right now, it’s OK that I couldn’t because I still was able to make that connection, just like I still can with Emily.

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