I am blessed with people in my life whom I share traditions with. We watch our children grow together. They bring me joy well beyond a generic word like “blessed.” Each year, for as many years as my youngest has been alive, we gather at Christmas to exchange gifts and create christmas memories to hang on our trees. These memories: beaded off-center balls, reindeer with too much glue, pictures of children years younger under glitter and foam; are treasures of magnificence. We hang each on branches every year in prideful spots. These ornaments, complete with thumbprint-smeared reindeer heads, go in the front of the tree. We’re proud of our inability to craft at our house. To visitors it appears we’re all a bit special-needs with glue but we see laughter and disastrous glitter accidents and children aching to be with their friends.
This year I drew my friend’s seven year old son. This kid is an old man trapped in a young-person’s body. While my children run around in their own imaginations, this kid talks like an adult. Since I was completely stumped as to what to get a man-child of 70 trapped in a 7 year old’s body, my friend tells me to just get an iTunes gift card. It’s what he wants, she says. I’m thrilled. “You kidding? Easiest Gift Ever.”
On the way home, this quiet, polite young man opens up to my friend. He said, and I quote:
“Oh my gosh! Could you believe that she got me that gift card?!?!”
“I just told you the other day that I wanted that and she got it for me!”
“She must know me so well!”
“Well, we have known her a long time”
“Wait- do you think she’s a wizard??”
“Wizards know stuff- stuff that people don’t tell them”
“Oh no- she’s not- she’s a WITCH!” Witches are even bigger than Wizards and they are girls”
“Also- witches have balls- big balls that tell the future”
“I bet Leslie has a big future ball”
........Yep- she’s definitely a witch- which is weird because I have never even met one before”
“So I got a gift card AND I met a witch!”
And with that, I hope your holiday is as joyful, and as unexpected, as my friend’s son. May reflections on the year bring you happy memories and may looking ahead give you much joy for the future.
Thank you for reading all seven years running….
This morning my daughter came down decked out in layers of plaid skirts, short tights, polka dot socks and crocks. Her paisley purple shirt topped off the entire outfit with a proper bow at the neckline. She illuminated joy from every ounce of her 7 year old tiny body. “Wow, hon! You’re a party!” She beamed at this compliment from me and sat down all sorts of matter-of-fact at breakfast ready for the day.
My kid? She has the pizazz.
I remember someone cooing over her as a baby. “Doesn’t she just bring you so much joy?” It was an innocent question from a perfect stranger, but at the time she was a three week old leech taking every ounce of my sanity in chunks of 45 minute sleeping blocks. I looked up, bleary eyed, and tried to smile a genuine smile all the while thinking, “Mister, have you HAD babies?”
It turns out? He had. His kids were grown now and he was looking at my three week old baby girl with eyes of decades of memories. Memories like the one at the breakfast table this morning.
“Thanks, Mom,” she said to me when I told her I was proud of her for picking out such a great outfit. I looked at her, her seven year old self, blonde hair, blue eyed lovely. Joy? Yes. Happiness? Yes. Frustration? Yes. But love, oh so much love, beyond anything I can comprehend.
We ate, walked to the bus together, and there at the bus stop was our neighbor girl, a girl in the same class, wearing nearly the same outfit. Both girls smiled and giggled with shy confidence. My neighbor and I laughed as our daughters caught the bus, girls in mis-matched socks and polka dot skirts, skipping up the steps. “Here’s the thing,” I told my neighbor, “I figure I’ll pick my battles. Don’t do drugs, have safe sex, and bygod wear whatever you want.”
I hope she keeps this spirit about her. And I know one day I’ll lean over a ragged, tired mother, and ask with genuine knowledge, “Doesn’t she bring you so much joy?”
She does. Daily.
** Also, super big than you to Babble for naming me one of the top 100 mommy bloggers!
One of my favorite episodes of my favorite TV show ever is “Northern Lights” of Northern Exposure Episode 4:3. It’s an analogy of light within the depths of darkness.
Goethe’s final words: “More Light”. Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that’s been our unifying cry. More light. Sunlight, torchlight, candlelight, neon, incandescent… Lights to banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the nigthgames at Soldier’s Field. Little tiny flashlight for the books we read under the covers when we’re supposed to be asleep.
Light is more than watts and foot candles. Light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp under my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead Thou [You] me on. The night is dark and I am far from home. Lead Thou me on. Arise, shine for thy light has come. Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.
We’re entering the darkest time here in the Pacific Northwest. The time where the sunlight dips to unseen beds at 4pm and doesn’t rise again until 8AM. The hibernation of man becomes a reality and people in coffee shops talk about the endless darkness.
We are a collective bear’s den: Nestling down for the winter months, comparing caves and scarves and nuts.
It is during the darkest hours of winter that we seek the Light. To me this is found in humanity. In the imperfect solace of friendships, of community, of tree lightings and holiday festivities. Later we will find this in the houses of those we know: lights of comfort, of discussion: of future plans. This is the time of reflection, of seeking, of finding. And hopefully, as the new year comes upon us, even in darkness, it is a time of light and hope; however that may look in a different new year light.
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