Live United: Celebrate life and the great days to come in the future

Published 8:40 pm Friday, January 8, 2021

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Guest Column by Erin Haag

My mother has a new puppy. My children are thrilled and called their Grannie to ask how Maggie did in puppy school that day. My son asked, “I’ve been wondering — is the teacher at puppy school a dog or a person?” My daughter asked, “Is it in-doggie, or virtual?”

Erin Haag

My children had a good holiday break. We took them ice fishing for the first time, and they’ve been learning how to ice skate on a small neighborhood pond. They’ve had some non-COVID health challenges that are making for a difficult start to the new year, so we’ve hunkered down and focused on bringing them joy and new experiences.

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Last week, I noticed that they grew some more, and my son’s snow pants are dangerously highwater on him. Happens every year, that midway through the winter, even if they just got new snow pants, they need new ones. Watching him slide across the ice, I won’t be surprised if I need to replace them again. I’m sure there are other mamas facing the same issue. I’m filled with gratitude that I have the means and ability to replace those snow pants, plus buy an extra for the day that the reinforced knees surrender the fight. I hope that the mama that needs help to replace items for her children knows where to find it.

Our Winter Gear Drive is going through January. With students returning to school on Monday, children who won’t stop growing and little boys who like to slide across the ice, we anticipated a need for coats. Nikolle has been working hard this week to connect with school social workers to give them an updated inventory list. Drop boxes are still available around town, such as Mayo, Albert Lea Family Y, Whimzy and more. However, we are asking that any donations are waterproof, and coats designed for the heavy snows that are sure to come. We’re overflowing with spring/fall type of coats, so we prefer not to accept those at this time.

It should have been a quieter week. Our phone lines are still down. A technician can come on Tuesday, and I’m hopeful that service will be restored. If you’re trying to reach us, email is best or stop by our office at 2610 Y.H. Hanson Ave. We don’t have standard office hours at the moment, due to the challenges of child care, distance learning and the need to be out in the community for various projects. Generally, Nikolle is in the front office Monday through Thursday by 9 a.m. until about 1 p.m.

This is my last weekly article for a bit. My articles will move aside for the legislative updates. It works out well, as this is the time period that we hunker down, transition new members of the board and start working on taxes and tax receipts.

2020 was a challenging year, and 2021 is getting off to a rocky start. As I spoke to a board member tonight, she mentioned she feels that she can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I like to think so. I look at my daughter, and I admire her resilient spirit. Her health issues bring her a great deal of pain in the evening and nighttime hours. Every single moment she’s not in pain though, she’s celebrating life and reminding us to get outside and enjoy the Minnesota winter. She’s not dwelling on the pain she had last night, or the pain that she knows she’ll probably have that coming night.

My son is the same way. He’s got jokes, he’s got energy and he’s got the big emotions of a 6-year-old. There’s been a lot of stomping his feet and screaming at us — and some really terrible, awful, no good days. Yet, every night, the bad moments were forgotten, and he says the same prayer. “Dear God. Thank you for a great day today, and I hope I have a great day tomorrow.”

So here’s to celebrating life and great days tomorrow. Get out in your community — safely — and enjoy our beautiful lakes, enjoy Takeout Thursdays to support our restaurants and take opportunities to give back. Thank you for reading along with me every week and for the messages, phones calls and letters to let me know what resonates with you. I look forward to our future conversations. In the meantime, have a great tomorrow and thank you for Living United.

Erin Haag is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.