I was doing some holiday shopping at Michael’s (the craft store) in the late afternoon when I heard a conversation in the next aisle between a mother and her six-year-old child.
“Oh, Mama, look at this!”
“I love this!!”
“I have one don’t I!!!”
“You made it for me didn’t you Mama!!!!”
“Can you make one for Sissy?”
As I listened to the excitement and love for her mother in the child’s voice and the drone of her mother’s responses, tears welled up in my eyes. I thought about how many times I’d done the same thing with my children when they were young. After all, the holiday season meant I had a centerpiece to make, a decoration for the coffee table to think about, colors to consider, people to impress and not enough time!
At that moment in Michael’s I would have given anything to go back to just one time in the aisle of a store, hear my child’s voice and not miss what was really happening. Love, joy adoration. The stuff of Christmas!
My kids are grown now and so are most of my grandchildren and I’ll never again hear their little bell voices exclaiming their joy over something. That time is gone forever and it flew past like a humming bird on speed. This little one is 17 and I keep asking her what she did with my baby.
I had to get to the next aisle and see the child! With tears streaming down my cheeks, I peeked around the corner and looked at the small girl’s happy, little face. She was all dressed up in a Christmassy dress and fancy socks. Her hair was dark brown in shoulder-length curls. She was holding a Christmas stocking with a Santa Claus on it. She looked up and smiled at me. Sissy, an infant, was asleep in a stroller. Then I looked at the mother. She was tired; I could see it in her eyes. But when she looked into mine, she smiled seeing my love for her child and the moment.
I told her what had gone through my mind listening to their conversation. Her tears started to collect as she re-ran their dialogue in her mind and said, “Now you’re making me cry.” She dabbed her eye with the inside of her wrist, “Thank you, I needed to hear this. I get so busy and it’s easy to neglect her natural enthusiasm.” I told the mother it was obvious that her child had not been neglected, because she was such a happy little girl, and that I understood how easy it was to get wrapped up in our own thoughts and miss these holy moments.
I left Michael’s knowing I wanted to write about this. Your children adore you and they are like little joy dispensers, especially during this time of year. Since it’s also an especially busy time for you, it can be so easy to miss those gifts of love and joy your children are eager to give to you. They’re gifts that can’t be wrapped up with festive paper or charged on MasterCard.
Stay awake! This is a holy time.
I wrote this blog in 2010 and that little girl, wherever she is, is now 13 and "Sissy" is six. It's my guess the mom is even busier than ever, but I hope she thinks of our meeting from time-to-time and remembers to enjoy her children before they're gone and on their own.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.
Thank you so much for reading my essay, and speaking the holiday season, I’d like to give you a gift. It’s a chapter in my latest book The Joy of Being Disorganized. The title is quite fitting for this time of year. It’s called There Arose Such a Clutter and I think it will help you see clutter in a whole new light. http://lp.housefairy.org/lp-joy-of-being-disorganized-chapter-seven