I tend to approach Christmas with squinty-eyed suspicion. I’ve resisted sharing Krista Tippett’s blog post Why I Don’t Do Christmas, or re-posting last year’s Christmas column about wanting a compliment instead of a pile of planet-destroying stuff, or even this thoughtful post from the Huffington Post on what not to say to people grieving at this time of year, which builds on the beautiful piece Nic MacPhee shared with The Wellness Almanac community last week about approaching a holiday that is laden with loss.
I’ve resisted all these things, mainly because my goal, for 2017, is less talking, more listening. Deep listening.
But more prosaically, I’ve resisted because this season, a three and a half year old has pulled me into a magic space.
Everybody said that’s how it would go. “Enjoy it through their eyes.” And I was, as is my fighting stance, suspicious. How is someone who is not being brainwashed about Christmas going to do that? But that’s kind of the neat thing about certain people whose wonder dials are constantly cranked to MAX – they see magic everywhere. In a tree in your living room! In snow! In hanging things on trees! In icing cookies with sugary goop that squeezes out of tubes! In tracing out the pattern for a gingerbread house from a cookbook! In seeing Santa! In a calendar with little openings that offer a treat every day!
Every day, he’s woken up and asked, “what day is it today? What number is that?”
Part of me cringes, does the parental two-step. Okay, sure. Hang on, is this okay? Is he too young to be eating chocolate? Every day? Is this a terrible habit? It’ll be fine. It’s harmless. Oh, but what if he turns into a <insert vision of worst fear here>…
But some days, he just opens the window and leaves the chocolate there. Some days, he’ll bite it into pieces and offer slobbery-slices to all of us. (For the record, as gross as that is, nobody refused a pre-masticated piece of chocolate.)
So I’ve been “leaning in” to Xmas and it’s caught me by surprise. My kidlet has melted the grinch in me with his straight up positive vibes, and I’m grateful for it. It’s like permission granted to not be cynical, to not protect myself always from disappointment, to give wonder a shot. And the way he does it is quite simple – he literally grabs me by the hand and pulls me in. “Let’s put more decorations on the tree,” he’ll say, tugging me down the hallway away from the laundry, so I’ll cut out stars from pieces of paper and tie them with string and he’ll hang them on drooping Charlie Brown branches with focus and intention, breaking only to ask, “Are you happy, Mumma? Are you happy Dad?”
Yeah, mate. We are.
Thank you for wondering.
The photo is by my friend Polek Rybczynski, a fellow Aussie living in Pemberton, with a son exactly one year younger than mine. The year his boy was born, he embarked on a creative venture – to shoot a photo a day. I’ve long been in love with the idea of a daily practice, and it was inspiring to watch his unfold. The book he published was my Christmas gift to myself. I will put it on the coffee table, open each day, to the day’s photos, as a reminder, to do one small thing, each day, take those baby steps, as the only way to ever get anywhere. It’s like an advent calendar in reverse. What will I fill a tiny little pocket of time with? A poem? A photo? A stretch? A glass of water? A prayer of gratitude? A moment of listening?