By Carol Zernial
WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director

It snowed recently. While this might not be unusual in many parts of the country, it was big news here in South Texas. During the drive to work, the sight of snowmen standing next to snow-covered palm trees and cactus brought a smile to my face. A colleague of mine called it a gift. To me, the thick blanket of falling snow was magical.

Perhaps it seemed that way, because it’s been a rough last half of the year. With hurricanes, shootings, and extreme political divisiveness in addition to our regular caregiving duties, we needed something out of the ordinary to lift our spirits. But do we still believe in magic?

When my son was still very small, other more sophisticated kids told him that Santa Claus wasn’t real. Children grow up so quickly these days, and I was hoping that he could hold on to that hopeful innocence behind the question a bit longer. I told him that Santa didn’t visit children who didn’t believe in him. But much like the story in the Polar Express, Santa would come as long as he believed.

Believing in magic may be a lot harder to see for those of us who are skeptics. If we really think about it, however, that half empty glass actually is half full. The difference lies within us.

The snow didn’t just lift me up that evening or the next snowy morning. I’ve been seeing things differently all week. In the same way that snowflakes seem to slow time down as they fall, the crazy feeling that the holidays would be over before I could feel them, let alone enjoy them, went away. I have been able to enjoy the bright decorations, sorting pictures for the holiday cards, and planning some gifts.

To cap off my magical week, I heard a story at a holiday party about a volunteer in some war-torn country who was passing out her last gift box when she realized there were two children left. When the first child opened the gift box, for some magical reason, there were actually two of everything inside the box – enough for both children. The volunteer had hiked for miles into the town with the boxes in her backpack without any way to know how many children she would find, but she had exactly what she needed in the end.

And so as we approach the end year, my wish for everyone would be that we find a little magic that gives us all exactly what we need even when we don’t know what lies ahead. Happy holidays and Happy New Year!

WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director Carol Zernial is a noted gerontologist, radio show host, and Chair of the National Council on Aging. The non-profit WellMed Charitable Foundation focuses on complimentary programs impacting seniors and family caregivers, including weekly telephone learning sessions, evidence-based classes on stress reduction and more. Find out more at or toll-free at 1-866-390-6491.

James Vanden Bosch is the founder and executive director of Terra Nova Films, Inc., a not-for-profit company specializing in the production and distribution of artistically excellent documentaries and educational videos.

Mr. Vanden Bosch has produced and distributed several films and videos which have received awards for their artistic merit and sensitivity, including My Mother, My Father (the emotional issues involved in caring for an aging parent); Elder Abuse: Five Case Studies; A Thousand Tomorrows: Intimacy, Sexuality, and Alzheimer’s, which received a Freddie Award, a Chicago International Film Fest Silver Plaque as well as a National Media OWL Award from the Retirement Research Foundation in 1995; and I’d Rather Be Home (documents the progression of an elder abuse case for over seven years), which received a National Media OWL Award, and a Gold Plaque Award from the International Film and Video Competition (Intercom) of Cinema-Chicago.

Originally aired on Caregiver SOS: On Air on NewsTalk 930 KLUP in San Antonio, TX on March 10, 2013. With co-hosts Carol Zernial and Ron Aaron.