I smiled. I just sat, mouth wide with teeth brimming from corner to corner. He snuggled his curly mop under my chin and the lights and music were in rhythm with my toe tapping and my heart beating.
If I were asked to explain the feeling of joy, it would be my allegory.
We were all dressed a little up for our clan. Not too fancy. But not Dri Fit festive, either. We dined at their favorite downtown spot. We talked during our meal about the conclusion of another first semester. And about heading into the last semester of preschool for the tiniest one of the mix.
The Middlest, when asked about his “low” of the first semester, hilariously and appropriately responded, “the sick days” (he’s had 12.) and his high? His teacher. The Oldest shared that he has, again, loved his teacher, and not getting to go on the field at recess when it’s muddy. The Littlest, his highs and lows were all highs, really. Because every time we do “highs and lows” I am reminded that he doesn’t yet understand the idea of remembering the lows. What a delightful place of innocence to exist in.
There were no complaints about the food. Pleases and Thank Yous were plentiful. And only one conversation including the words “wet fart” when we asked for hands to be taken out of the back of one’s pants. The waiter even returned to pay our boys a compliment, that they were the best behaved children he’d ever served. If that isn’t a little piece of Christmas Magic, I don’t know what is.
As we drove to the next stop of our eve, their eyes were wide with wonder — discussing the glow of the downtown adorned with lights of the season. And I breathed in the moment, grateful to be in it.
The huz and I shared just how thankful we were to them for giving us such a delightful dining experience. And I promised myself I would commit this night to memory.
And then, the show. Elf: the Musical. At our local children’s theater. Kids and adults in festive attire from antlers to ties, sparkle to gelled-up-hair.
The music and lights kept their attention to the stage. And only a couple little moments from the Littlest in which he declared, “I want to go to the Grinchmas Pawty now” reminded me that, yes, our 5, 7, and 9-year-olds are children.
As we drove, the Middlest inquired, “daaaad? Harrison thinks Christmas is about presents and I think it’s about Joy, Love, and Care. I’m right, right?” And then I heard him tell his younger brother, “and Jesus, Harrison.”
Am I in some sort of alternate universe, I thought. All three children are being grateful, kind, and not complaining about itchy pants. All three agreed on the dinner spot. All three loved the show. And no one has pinched or screamed at each other for the last four hours. Surely this is some sort of Hallmark movie and I’m going to wake in the morning having had this all as a dream.
And then. Then they all, one by one, thanked us. They thanked us for the evening. Unprompted. Without any jibing by us about being spoiled or ungrateful. It was really quite fantastical.
The Middlest shared that his biggest goal for Winter Break was to sit on the couch, under a blanket, and read a book while sipping hot chocolate. And I whispered to my husband, “oh my word. He’s my spirit animal.”
I felt full.
We made yet another stop for the evening at a family Grinchmas Party that the boys had been looking forward to since last year. And we didn’t arrive back home and get everyone into bed until 12:45 am.
It had been a day.
The very best kind of day.
Not just the normal happenings. But nothing that took us out of our hometown. Time as a family unit. And time with friends. And the boys… five. Seven. And nine… we’re, I am sure, completely unaware that they had given me the very best gift of all: Joy in the Present. With the Presence of Joy.
and as sensational and melodramatic as it all might read: it was most definitely one of the top ten moments of my mothering career, if not, my life.
There are a million little seconds that make up our minutes and minutes turn into hours into days and weeks and months and before we know it, we have this thing called life.
Sometimes it’s unbelievably hard. Others, it’s just going by. But our night, this one where everything seemed to mesh into magic, it gets a spot in my motherhood memory jar as one of the very best.
I know that on any given day or any given year, everything can change. And so, I must must must commit this to memory. This place where we are. The age of these boys. The youth of their parents. And the health and joy we all have.
The smell of his hair as he rested his head under my chin. The reminders of Joy, Love, and Care. The Oldest holding my hand as we walked in the cold. And the huz having had the forethought to purchase the tickets for a last-day-of-the-semester celebration. These and many other little moments are filling my heart this year as we head into Christmas Day.
Wishing you joy, love, care, and maybe, even a present or two, as you celebrate and feel the joy of a season of presence.