Believing in your Dreams and Leading by Example

My nephew is beautiful and I’m so proud of him.

As I write this, I am in NYC attending a theatre conference and he is a student here in New York at Pace University. I had a moment of self-doubt about why I’m here and I shared it with him.

I said, “Do you ever wonder what you are doing? If what you are doing is crazy?” He said without a beat, “No.” He went on to say, “I always figure that there are plenty of people in the world who are going to doubt me. I’m not going to be one of them.”

I was speechless by his grace, his cool, and his confidence. He wasn’t cocky, he was confident. He knows. He believes. He is all the things our family has raised him to be.
He is only 18. The student has become the master.

In an instant, he reminded me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And though he is unknowingly encouraging the pursuit of all of my lofty dreams, I also know that I am showing him the way with my determination as well.

My nephew is my sister’s child. My first nephew or niece. He and Kayla were the only grandchildren my mother touched before she passed away and they are both following in her theater footsteps.

My nephew is a Sophomore majoring in Musical Theatre at Pace University in New York City. Kayla majored in Musical Theater at Northern Kentucky University. Both are following their Broadway dreams and now I am too.

He immediately grounded me with his statement and his presence. This happened as soon as I got to New York and I needed this. At that moment, I cast all doubt about myself and my ambitious dreams aside and didn’t allow that feeling to stifle me again for the entire trip.

I also think about this time period where there are more opportunities for Black theatre professionals than ever. Taking him to see a Broadway show, starring an all-Black cast, written by a Black playwright was a highlight of this trip.

I hope he can see a path I could not.

How A Love of Christmas Inspired a Much-Needed Picture Book

My family LOVES Christmas.

We are very blessed. We have Christmas trees with different themes in different areas of our home.

I have a Candy Land tree and trains and a little village- the whole deal. I love it all.

Mostly I love all of the feelings associated with Christmas. I love it even more now that it is pretty much the only time of year my daughter who is 27 can come home now. I love to get gifts for people that I know they really want. I listen all year long and then when they open the present my favorite moment is when they say, “HOW DID YOU KNOW!!!!?” And I think to myself because I listen to you. I love the food, the movies, and all of the Christmas books!

These are all great and beloved holiday traditions. The only problem for me is that just once I would have loved to see someone who looked like me. Especially as I became an adult. I wanted to read Christmas stories to my babies who had characters that looked like them. There are literally thousands of Christmas picture books for children.

A simple Google search reveals an endless amount of stories with white kids or with animals as the main protagonist. Really, what does this say to a little brown kid (who is not a bear) who may be searching for a story that’s a little more relatable to them and their experience?

I very much believe in Santa. I am so serious. Every Christmas I see miracles happen, because Santa not only lives in the North Pole, he lives in all of us. I’d like to believe we can make Santa magic happen even when Santa cannot.

I really believe that my diverse children’s picture book, In The Nick of Time, truly might be the first-ever published book where a brown boy helps Santa save Christmas. I have looked and looked and looked and cannot find another. It’s kind of sad, but hopeful because this may be the first of many.

In The Nick of Time by Deedee Cummings
In The Nick of Time by Deedee Cummings

About In The Nick of Time

Ten-year-old Nick Saint never thought his name was all that special until one snowy day in December when he accidentally receives a letter meant for Saint Nick. Encouraged by his mom, young Nick opens the letter with the intent to answer it himself. The unexpected message inside ultimately leads him on a journey of understanding poverty, gratitude, and service to others while discovering the real meaning of the holiday spirit. Nick’s actions and kindness are filled with heartwarming results– results that even please Santa Claus himself! An endearing story of a little brown boy who helps Santa save Christmas.

Children of all ages and backgrounds who read In the Nick of Time will understand that sometimes the smallest act of kindness can take up the biggest space in someone else’s heart. 

I know families will fall in love with this book because not only is the overall message amazing, but because it’s also a rare find to locate a picture book about a little brown boy who helps Santa save Christmas.

It is so important for my children to also feel special and wanted and needed, and like Santa could trust or call on them too. This is not a book just for brown kids. Just like I love watching all of these movies and reading all of these stories, so will all other kids from many different backgrounds, but for once a brown child may be able to better dream that Santa may just pick them to call on for help. That they too, can be considered trustworthy, responsible, and caring. They too can be the hero.

This story is beautiful and filled with messages all children need to hear about poverty, gratitude, and service to others. I believe Santa would be so proud. And so am I.

Pick up your copy and some for your friends, family, and community on the MAWM website or via Amazon and Kindle.

In the Nick of Time by Deedee Cummings



About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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