This time of year is magical. It is hard not to get caught up in the decorations, lights and music. It is especially magical if you have children in your life - it’s like adding sprinkles on an already delicious, gooey, chocolate cupcake spread thick with fudge frosting. The sparkling look on a child’s face will melt even the Grinchiest of hearts.
My now nearly 17-year-old son asked me recently, “Mom, when are you going to write about me?” I was caught off-guard, because I hadn’t realized he was paying attention or cared. “My next blog, Zachary. Any thoughts? Something reflective of the season and funny." A thoughtful look drifted across his face, and he slowly smiled. “Santa and the fire truck!” he said, and we both laughed.
When Zachary was 3 and his sister was just a new baby, we decided to take them to the Killeen Mall for the arrival of Santa Claus, in all his glory, on a fire truck! With hundreds of other families, we waited outside the mall entrance for the big event. All of a sudden, we heard the pressing wail of the siren. It grew louder and louder as Zachary’s eyes grew wider and wider. We watched him carefully for his reaction. Would he be excited? Terrified? What we saw was……nothing. His little face held no expression. What was going on in that young brain?
“Do you want to go in and sit on Santa’s lap," we asked him. Santa dismounted, boisterously exclaimed "Ho Ho Ho," greeted nearby patrons and sashayed into the mall. “I no……yes." This was the way Zachary talked at that age; everything was prefaced with the infamous “I no” aka “I don’t know." Typical 3-year-old cuteness that they later wish you’d just stop bringing up!
The actual lap-sitting and gift-requesting were fairly uneventful. Channing, my daughter, was for the most part oblivious at 5 months old. Zachary sat nicely, smiled widely for the picture, and we left. My husband Steve and I eyed each other on the way home as Zachary remained silent in the back seat. “Do you think that was all too much?” I asked Steve, under my breath. “I don’t know….he’s so quiet!” Steve replied. Nothing else was mentioned about it for the remainder of the night.
The next morning, Zachary got up and we launched our usual morning exchange:
“Good morning, Zachary!”
“How are you today?”
“How did you sleep?”
“What did you dream about?”
“I no…….Santa and the fire truck.” (Except, it was “pire" not "fire.")
“Was it a good dream, Zachary?”
“I no…….” And that was it.
And so, our once normal morning exchange took on a new twist. For nearly a year, every single morning, we had this exact exchange. I asked Steve, “Do you really think he’s dreaming about that every night? Is that even healthy?” Finally, as Zachary seemed so well-adjusted otherwise, we stopped trying to analyze it and, instead, it became a wonderful lighthearted start to every morning.
Zachary has some memory of the actual events, and now, he views it as a funny story about himself as a child. I hold it as a fond memory, a cherished moment that reflects the Christmas season. Children see the world with an untarnished heart, in a way that many of us adults lose. There is nothing more precious than being able and willing to see through a child’s eyes - the innocence, clarity and simplicity are priceless.
This Christmas season, open your eyes in a childlike way. Open your heart. See. Believe.