Christmas connection

Six months after spending the day playing together, a pair of local girls reconnect thanks to social media

It might have been the most adorable missed connection ever posted to Facebook.

Back in June, Kelsey Bareham’s four-year-old daughter, Luna, met a girl named Maia at the Meadow Park Sports Centre pool. The pair hit it off and spent the day playing together.

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“(My husband and I) didn’t think much of it,” Bareham said. “But Luna kept bringing Maia up. Every couple of weeks she’d talk about her friend Maia. We were thinking, ‘We have no idea where this child is. She could be a visitor. Whistler has a lot of people coming through.’”

Luna is a social butterfly who makes friends easily, but last week when she mentioned once again she’d like to give Maia a

Christmas gift, Kelsey decided it was worth trying to track her down.

“I thought, ‘This is pretty cute. You still remember this girl after all this time,’” Bareham said. “We can try to look.”

So, she decided to post to the Whistler Winter Facebook page, knowing it would be a long shot. They knew a few details: the girl’s name was Maia, she was between the ages of four and nine and she arrived at Meadow Park on a bike.

“Luna was really taken by their brief friendship and can’t stop talking about her,” the post read. “(Like months later.) She really wants to give (Maia) a Christmas present. Does this sound like your daughter? Where can I drop off a gift? Can they ever meet again?”

The post got over 250 likes and led to many people tagging parents of Maias.

“This story is absolutely the best thing to ever come out of Facebook,” one person wrote.

For her part, Bareham was shocked by the response when she checked her account the next day. (Although, this has happened to her one other time this year; Bareham is the tattoo artist who raised thousands of dollars for the Red Cross to help victims of last summer’s forest fires with a tree tattoo fundraiser.)

“I was amazed when I looked the next morning to see the people who tagged people who had children named Maia,” she said. “I had private messages where people sent me photos of their daughter. Then it was entertaining to get my four-year-old daughter to recognize the Maia — there were a few.”

One Maia was too young. (Or, as Luna, put it, “I think that was her when she was a little girl.”) Another too blonde. (“I think that was her when she had lighter hair.”) Then finally a possible match.

The correct Maia’s mom, Marjorie Ordona, sent Bareham a message with a photo. “She was biking over from Myrtle Philip for a birthday party,” Bareham said. “That fit because she had a bike.”

Bareham’s husband, who had been with Luna at the pool that day, confirmed they had the right Maia.

“To be honest, I knew off the bat it was her,” said Ordona, whose coworker initially showed her the post. “Maia is an extraordinary girl in her own way. She has social graces we can’t even explain and I’m not surprised she warmed up to Luna the way she did and made enough of an impression that it stuck with her. Of course, I’m biased, but it warms my heart.”

For her part, Maia, who is seven, remembers that day at Meadow Park too. “I remember when we unchanged from our bathing suits we went to the sandbox and went down the slide,” she said. “And then the sand was too hot and the water was too cold.”
Ordona suggested they meet up to go skating together. But before that, Luna prepared her gift: a copy of a book Bareham wrote called Wally Learns to Ski adorned with her own carefully crafted art. “We were supposed to meet at 3 p.m. because Maia was in school,” Bareham said. “It was a long day clutching the present.”

Finally, the big reunion. Not surprisingly, “both girls were pretty shy,” Bareham said. “But eventually they gravitated towards each other… I think they had a really fun day together.”

Luna confirmed she enjoyed the reunion. “I went ice skating with her,” she said, over the phone. “When I was there she gave me a Christmas ornament.”

Maia has been enjoying her new book too. “We read it three nights in a row,” Ordona said.

Her takeaway from the experience?

“Honestly, never underestimate the innocence of kids,” she said. “They can just surprise you in the most amazing ways.”

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