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Archive for December 2010

photo 123110 . Winter Blues


As the waning days of 2010 slip by, I find myself resolved. A new year often brings with it the pressure of resolutions–that laundry list of things we want to add or subtract or change about our lives. Sometimes the pressure of actually choosing the transformations we want to pursue are just as daunting as carrying out the resolutions themselves. After all, making resolutions requires that painful task of self-evaluation we tend to avoid. It involves taking stock of life and commitments and habits and determining their value or effectiveness. Ick. The self-help mantras usually encourage that the most successful New Year’s resolutions are those that are specific. And, I tend to agree. This year, my resolution is pretty specific.

No resolutions. Simple resolve.

Resolve calls to mind determination. Firmness. Having made up one’s mind. And I have. New Year’s Day ushers in a new year. And this year, newness is a blessing I am prepared to embrace. With all the successes and challenges experienced in 2010, I’m determined to embrace the ripeness of this new turn of the calendar.

A new year.
A new day.
A new attitude.
A new opportunity.
A new look.
A new habit.
A new step.
A new path.
A new start.

Resolve is like a restart for our minds and hearts sometimes. The new year, 2011, is filled with new days and new moments. New moments are just that. New. And new means I’m free to release that moment from past decisions, past mistakes, past habits and even past accomplishments. Embracing that new moment means cultivating a willingness to let go of the constraints of our own old ways and the benchmarks of our own old strides. Whatever past success or failure, THIS new moment deserves that freedom. THIS new moment can thrive in that freedom. THIS new moment is alive in that freedom.

So, in 2011 I’m resolved to let new be new. I’m resolved to let go and hold on tight. I’m resolved to make these new moments mine.

[Click the desktop wallpaper version above to download and enjoy with your technology and grab this iphone wallpaper version as well. Happy New Year!]

Peace on Earth

Small pond views are always a little wacky and endearing all at the same time. I love this photograph. I took it several years ago in Macon, Mississippi. Macon is a typical small Mississippi town, and I happen to know it well because my parents live there. The photo was taken from the second floor of the old Noxubee County Jail. The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places and was beautifully restored and converted to the county library. It’s quite an experience to visit the stacks inside the old jail cells and see the remains of gallows when walking through the hallways.

The back view of the lighted tinsel “Peace on Earth” spanning Jefferson Street captured from one of the jail cells’ barred windows is an ironic and poignant juxtaposition.

Moments of Wonder

A few nights ago I was giving Baby Girl a bath. I do it every night before reading to her and rocking her to sleep. And although sometimes I can’t help but view bathtime as a chore, every night I’m more keenly aware that these moments are fleeting. I already have phenomenally fewer of them with Little Drummer Boy and Bug. There was nothing particularly special about this night, a Tuesday like any other one. But somehow, this bathtime inspired all-too-common questions. As I sat beside the tub, responding to her squeals, I could feel it rising.

Baby Girl is most often filled with giggles and energy for her bath. When I’m not distracted by the rush of the day and the task list of bedtime routines, I watch her. I see her carefree little body standing there too busy to sit in the bath water. Her pudgy tummy and pudgy cheeks, her hands all in motion and eyes full of light, she laughingly fills a cup with the water’s flow and pours it back into the tub for the simple pleasure of seeing the bubbles. I can’t help but enjoy the simple pleasure of her wonderment myself.

On this Tuesday, she accompanied her water play with talk of Frosty the Snowman. I guess she’s been reading (or singing) about him at daycare and her new snowman washcloth inspired the recollection. For Baby Girl, all snowmen are Frosty. All baths are for bubbling water. In these moments, I’m amazed at the simplicity life boils down to in a two-year-old world.  Her splashing and squeals pierced the sounds of brother car chases and computer clicks just a room away. Their own imaginations hard at work awaiting their turn with the suds. Sitting on my heels beside the tub, I matched her height, and I could look straight into her uncontained eyes. They were completely oblivious to me, and yet they gripped me. With a soapy washcloth in hand I could feel the pull of that required moment of whisking her away from her water experiment and on to more practical cleanliness. But even though the night was getting away from me, I just sat and watched her.

In that tug between my own time constraints and her wonder-full display, that’s when I felt it rising. That’s when the tears began to well. I felt it overtaking me. That odd mixture of overwhelming love and wonder mixed with second-guessing and fear. This little child before me in her innocent playfulness. This precious one who without even realizing it had placed her whole world on my shoulders. And thereby captured my lifelong gaze.

And so the fear and self-doubt rise in proportion to the love.
Can I do it? I ask myself.
Can I give them what they need? What they deserve?
Can I hold their hearts? Until they grow the passion to do it themselves.
Can I mold their whims and nurture their gifts?
Can I provide for them?
Will I be able to fund their warmth and their table and their opportunity?
What if I can’t?
What if I mess up?
What if I get side-tracked and miss something?
Something important?
Can I really do this?

I sat beside the tub and watched her. And cried. I can do that with Baby Girl. She’s so young that my tears are blissfully invisible to her, unlike the array of questions they would produce with her brothers. I took it all in. The carefree spirit. The joyful eyes. The concentrated movements. Filling the cup. Pouring it out. Squealing. Giggling.

The more I sat, the more I wondered. How can I shield them from the worries of living and providing? How do I keep it from creeping in when their only concerns are whose turn it is to choose a movie and how long they get to make bubbles in the bath water? How can I give them that privilege of childhood and ignorance? That sweet and oblivious face standing there by the faucet where the whole world is filling the cup and pouring it out. How can I give them everything I want them to have? How can I make their worlds safe and full and at peace all at the same time?

It’s in moments like this one that I realize what she’s teaching me. That moments of wondering find their rest in moments of wonder. The carefree attention that simplicity provides. The place of wonder she shows me in filling the cup and pouring it out. The sheer amazement of something as basic as a bathtub full of water seen through the clear blue depth of a two-year-old’s eyes. When I stop myself and my rampant thinking–when I let go–in that place of wonder, I am master rather than slave to the onslaught of worry and concern and self-doubt.

So, I look at her. I look at them. Their beauty. Their exuberance. Their joy. Their wonder. And I know.

If I can just keep my eyes here.
If I can just focus here.
And see.
We’ll be ok.

Wise Men

The Magi. I’ve been gravitating to their part in the Christmas story this season. Wise men are kind of a rare breed. To be known through history for the trait of wisdom is pretty impressive in this age of rampant information. We live in a time of unprecedented knowledge, but I see all around me the impact of foolishness. Christmas is usually a time of reflection for me. There is usually a break in my work routine and traveling to visit family. The time away from my own place and schedule somehow gives my heart and mind the space to evaluate. In what seems like life in constant motion, that brief respite to pause and think is a blessing. It helps me see with fresher eyes.

As I’ve been looking at this past year, I can’t help but notice change. And with all the hardship that surrounds change, I can’t help but recognize the opportunity that comes with it. But, opportunity requires wisdom, that rare commodity. Wisdom is often the difference between short-term and long-term, between past and future, between good and best. And so, these nameless figures from an age-old story come to mind. These humans whose actions seem almost implausible and even foolish at times. And yet, they are known simply as “wise men.” Men of prestige who were satisfied and even humbled in worship before a small child. These men who came and went on their way, having recognized God. I find their story fascinating. And I find their journey worth pursuing.

They were wisdom-seekers in a mystic tradition that was centuries old spanning many cultures and historical accounts. And because they were wisdom-seekers by trade, people seemed to assume they had it. World leaders and kingdom makers sought them to advise or divine or justify their decisions. The biblical account of the birth of Jesus doesn’t give us much information about these particular wise men. Over the centuries Christendom has imbued them with details that may not have really been true at that defining point in history. In my varied nativity scenes and storybook illustrations, there are only three of them. They rode on camels and visited the holy family in a stable. They were multi-racial and dressed in fine and brilliant colors, and always with crowns of some kind or another. Noone knows how and when they really arrived on the scene in Bethlehem, but in thinking about these unknown figures, I’m stilled by some important realities about a life characterized by wisdom. Some that surprised me.

Meaning mattered.
These men had positioned their whole lives in a mindset of meaning. It was the backdrop to all their days and to the singular experience with the Christ child. I heard a quote once that said you don’t find meaning. You give meaning. The magi spent their lives giving meaning and significance to events and natural phenomena and people.  It brought order and power to their world. It enabled them to see, to follow and ultimately to worship.

They were searching.
They noticed the course-altering star because they were looking. It’s not like a star shines in the sky for one man to see. The light radiates indiscriminantly. The difference is that these men had trained their gaze to find it. So often we are so entrenched in knowing the answers that we see no value in searching. And, admittedly, sometimes there is no place like Christianity for assuming a choke-hold on answers. Why do we diminish the process of seeking and searching as a lesser and distracted pursuit? The only way to find is to seek.

They recognized importance when they saw it.
They recognized significance. Something in their mystic training program or in their own experience told them the star they saw mattered. They had paid enough attention to see that it was different from what they’d known in their searching of the skies. They were able to discern that for them in that moment, the star was important.

They followed significance with unencumbered action.
This is so often the hard part. When we recognize that something matters, that it’s important, how do we respond? Significance involves determining what really matters to me, what qualifies my baseline of the life I feel I need to live. To grasp that significance and hold it often requires change. It often requires letting go, moving from where I am. The Magi followed the star. It was likely a long journey and an unexpected one. But, they loaded the camels (or whatever mode of transportation) and left. The significance they saw fueled their desire to know what this star was about. To find the meaning behind it. They were prepared enough to be unencumbered in moving. And they were prepared and expectant enough to load the gifts as well.

They didn’t lose sight of their vision.
The wise men had a picture of their destination. A hazy one, but a picture. They held firmly to what their heart recognized in seeing the star. They were looking for a king. And they met a legitimate king–Herod. Obviously, they were men of prestige and possibly renown. They probably were men of wealth and prominence. They were ushered into the king’s palace, after all. Apparently without much effort, they gained a direct audience with the ruler to ask their questions. But they recognized he wasn’t the one they were seeking. They didn’t break out the frankincense for Herod.

But, when the time was right, they were ready to give their gifts.
Trusting our own vision is so hard sometimes. Circumstances and the opinions of others push and pull and try to mold a vision we don’t recognize. But, my significance is mine. What’s valuable to me matters. It takes courage and resolve to stick with it.  The Magi trusted the sign post placed in the sky before them even though it probably seemed unlikely. Whatever small and seemingly insignificant situation they found Jesus in when the star rested its journey, they didn’t hesitate to open their treasures there. They weren’t enamored by wealth and prestige. They weren’t deterred by meager circumstances. They weren’t dictated by the assumptions of others. They recognized a situation and a person worthy of everything they had brought. And they gave it.

I’m on this same journey. Somewhere. I haven’t determined exactly where at the moment. But it’s my journey this season. A journey of significance. A journey of meaning. A journey of vision. A journey of giving. A journey of recognizing. A journey of choosing. A journey of moving. A journey of seeking. A journey of following. A journey of finding. A journey of worshiping. I’m on this journey. Aren’t we all?

Merry Christmas from Small Pond Graphics

Thank you to all my friends, clients and colleagues for making the first six months of Small Pond Graphics a treasure to me. Enjoy this selection of holiday photo experimentation, themed “Love’s Pure Light”. May you and yours find and keep it this Christmas season.

The Dollhouse

“Is that a house?”

We were spending the night at my parents’ home recently, and Little Drummer Boy was looking at the top of a chifferobe in the room where he and Bug sleep. My Mom keeps my childhood dollhouse there, and I think it was the first time Little Drummer Boy had really noticed it. When he found out the house was mine, LDB immediately wanted to play with it. I let him know that the house had too many small pieces inside it to be safe for Baby Girl and that it was better to leave it on the shelf for now. But, I explained that G-Mo had given me the dollhouse when I was little and that I would probably give it to Baby Girl one day when she is old enough to enjoy it.

“But, I won’t be able to play with it then.”

I assuaged his concern with the argument that he could play with the dollhouse WITH Baby Girl–that she would really love that and he would have lots of fun. I’ve witnessed that she does indeed relish the attentions of her oldest brother. However, it was one of those moments when I wasn’t sure if I had actually told him the truth. Little Drummer Boy is quite interested in the dollhouse now. But, that won’t always be true. By the time I decide to pass on this little chapter of Mommy-history, that may not be the case any longer. In three or four years when Baby Girl is old enough to be inspired by a well-furnished and appointed dollhouse, I’m not sure Little Drummer Boy will want to give it the same attention he did on this night. He will likely have moved on to past-times more of interest to an older boy. And their opportunity to play “together” with it may be nothing more than an older brother giving momentary indulgence to his baby sister. If that. I don’t even like to think about it.

I’m an only child, and although I don’t think I fit many of the stereotypes attributed to that family set-up, I find myself paying close attention to the dynamics between my children. The whole brother and sister thing is actually quite baffling to me. And, as I notice each of their ever-changing stages, I’m constantly trying to figure it out. I try to discover how to build their relationships with one another and still nuture their individual gifts and fascinations. And, even though we come as a set, I find myself still figuring out how to build my individual and unique relationship with each of them. As an only child, that relationship with MY mother was easy. I want them to have it too, even though they each share me with the others. I want them to have the assurances that I love and treasure each of them as individuals and that I’m so proud of each of their gifts and accomplishments. I want each to carry with them those moments when they know I was all theirs, that I really saw them and heard them.

This Christmas, as I ponder their sweet conversations, their moments of play together and even their moments of tussling, that dollhouse takes center stage in my mind.

Santa Claus brought me the dollhouse when I was young. But, even in my assurance of the jolly elf’s existence, in my willingness to overlook the fact that my grandparents didn’t have a chimney, in my amazement at the cookie plate filled with only crumbs each Christmas morning, somewhere in my heart I knew. I knew that this dollhouse was from my mother.

The blue and white two-story house came completely unfinished on the inside. Although there were Chippendale chairs, a Victorian sofa, a porcelain sink, tiny candlesticks, metal spatterwear for the table and even a Christmas tree and wreath, the walls and floors and windows were bare. Along with the house, there was a collection of wallpaper, fabric samples and ribbons as part of Christmas–materials waiting to appoint the rooms to my satisfaction. My Mom let me choose the colors and fabrics for each room and helped me hang the wallpaper, fashion the curtains and arrange the furniture. It was the perfect way to give a dollhouse to a girl with my early design sensibilities and my penchant toward nesting. But, the true gift Mom gave me that year was the special time she created for me to spend with her enjoying that dollhouse. In meaning and memory, it stands out among all the wonderfully “perfect” gifts Santa brought over the years. Mom made the process just as powerful as the final product. The lasting power came through the experience she carved out.

I want to give each of my children that experience. I want them each to have their own “dollhouse.” Their own time of undivided attention. Their own process of working together. Their own moments of playing together. Perhaps it takes more concentration, more discipline with my three gifts than it did with an only child. Perhaps it takes more wisdom or more time management. I don’t know. Still, it’s worth the effort and whatever trial-and-error is required in figuring out how to make those moments a reality. This season, I hope I can give them more than just gifts. I hope I can give them my feeble, untrained lessons in brother- and sisterhood. I hope I can give them time that translates into experiences and security and confidence. Amazon.com aside, I hope I can give them my self.

oh happy day . Red #40

It’s Friday, folks. Happy Day! For me this Friday means there are only eight more shopping days for Christmas.  Only twelve more boxes from Amazon.com to arrive (give or take a few). Only four or five more stops at Starkville gift shops to support my local economy during the shopping season. Only two more kid parties to attend. Only one more Christmas tree to trim. Only six more hours until Little Drummer Boy is out on his first “Christmas break.” Only 6,754 more times to read Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer–this year. And about 500 words or so to move myself from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to “Silent Night, Holy Night”.

Yep, about this time every year, somewhere in the intersection of mommyhood and Christmas craziness, I reach a saturation point of how much can be done in preparation for the “perfect” and most meaningful holiday experience. That elusive quest for perfection and profundity gets me all crazy with ideas for what I want my babies to do, receive, experience, learn, know, enjoy about Christmas. At this saturation point, I realize that ALL of the things I imagined are simply not going to get done. You would think that since Christmas comes at the same time every single year and I’ve lived with myself for about 41 years now, I would be a little better at predicting what I’m actually able to accomplish and still get sleep and avoid grumpiness. But, no. It didn’t happen this year. Again.

So, the saturation point arrived on Tuesday evening as I was looking at the colossal failure of a pan of peanut butter cookies gone awry. I needed to make them for Little Drummer Boy’s Christmas party #2. I had made one small batch with the help distraction of both Bug and Baby Girl sitting on the counter along with the eggs, peanut butter, sugar and about 17 different spice bottles they had pulled from the shelf to experiment with. I’ll admit, I was feeling the frazzle. This is the kind of thing that makes me say, “yeah, I could DECK me some halls right now.” The experience was a blast for them and somewhat harried for me. After the kids moved on to other things, I attempted to catch up on my time with the next batch. Unfortunately, I made the balls too big and put too many on the pan at one time. Something I never would have done if not for the influence of Christmas craziness. Ok, maybe I would have, but you get the idea. When the buzzer sounded, I had all the unwrapped Hershey’s kisses ready to pop into the center of each scrumptious cookie. The red, green and white sprinkles were standing ready to be tossed as the chocolate softened for just the right amount of Christmas cheer. Only, when I pulled the pan from the oven, it was one giant sheet of just-a-bit-too-dark peanut butter cookie all melded together.

I scraped the pan off right into the garbage can. Saturation point.

This week required fourteen teacher gifts, two kid-friend gifts, a dozen cupcakes for Little Drummer Boy’s party #1, two dozen or so cookies for Little Drummer Boy’s party #2, two dozen or so cookies for Bug’s party and what are we going to have for Christmas cookies at OUR house?!

I love baking things for Christmas. I have a collection of recipes I’ve made in past years to create goodie boxes for all the preschool classrooms. I’ve enjoyed the kids helping with the mixing and the stirring and the dumping of ingredients–their direction with the icing and sprinkling of adornments. After all, I don’t EVER remember my mother buying Christmas cookies or cupcakes or whatever else was required for Ho Ho eating. No, I have clear and unblemished recollections of the fun of her baking so many things. And in my recollection, Mom’s were never just-a-bit-too-brown. They were certainly never 16 peanut butter cookies shockingly melded into one giant rectangular one.  Of course, she could probably tell a different tale. My mom’s advice this year…

Just. Go. Buy. Some.

Hello, saturation point. On Wednesday morning, I noticed that Bug’s party list already included sweets, so I quickly changed my offering to chips and dip. I wandered through the bakery aisle of WalMart and located one 12-pack of the most chocolate, icing-piled-up, high-falutin bakery magic cupcakes I could find. Check. I found a 24-pack of the roundest and just the right shade of pale unblemished dough with how-in-the-world-do-they-get-that-color smoothly iced-in-red cookies available in the joint. Check. I side-tracked to the chip aisle for Doritoes and Ruffles and [shock!] store-bought French Onion and Creamy Spinach dips. Check. I even found a giant plastic pack of cookie minis with the same amazingly round and smooth texture just for us to eat. No party required. I tossed those babies in the buggy and slapped my debit card on the counter. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Christmas baking is done! This week I’m thankful for the voice of reason. For Red #40. For little plastic containers that keep the icing from getting gooey. For the preservatives and cellulose gum and carnauba wax and corn syrup solids and all those other chemistry-sounding ingredients on the package. For the chance to sit on the couch and read to bright eyes instead of rushing through the kitchen. And for the sugar cookie dough in my refrigerator and the Christmas sprinkles in the cabinet we’ll use just for the fun of it next week.

Oh Happy Day!

The Woman I Want to Be

“She bears watching.”

It was a statement I heard my grandfather say about my grandmother on several occasions. “She bears watching.” It kind of makes me giggle to think about it again because it was so true. My grandmother’s birthday was in early December. She’s been gone for over ten years now, but she was (and still is) a strong influence in my life. I was thinking about her recently and this observation from her husband.

If there’s one true thing about my grandmother, it was that you never knew what she might do with the raw materials before her. She was ingenious, creative and thrifty. She had a hearty laugh and a coy smile. Her spirit was exuberant. She wore her heart on her sleeve and was proud of it. To me, she never seemed enamored of ridiculous trends. She always seemed very comfortable with herself. Perhaps that was the by-product of experience and a well-lived life, but I usually attribute it to her own resolve to be who she was. And though she molded herself with each conversation to enjoy the person before her, she never lost that essence of herself. She often marveled at the world changes in her lifetime, the inventions, the new ideas. And she acclimated to each one. She basked in the attention of others. She never shied away from speaking from her true self. My mother is like her in many ways and particularly in that regard. Sometimes I wish I could say I was.

Yes, I have the creativity and the ingenuity. I have a hearty laugh and my heart is often on my sleeve. But, when I look at myself I don’t see that thing that my grandfather lovingly admired. Maybe it’s there somewhere, buried underneath my habits and complacency and status quo, but at the moment I feel mired in predictability–my own predictable tendencies. And I ask myself, “where is that thing that ‘bears watching?'”

Where is that thing that makes people pay attention in spite of themselves? Where is that thing that makes those around me wonder what’s happening next? Where is that thing that takes charge of my existence and wrestles it firmly into grasp? Where is that thing that demands more than simple crumbs from the feast of life and is willing to take hold of the spoon?

Somehow in my growing and learning and living, I’ve awakened to a girl I don’t know. A woman content to accept silence. A woman content to be molded by the foolishness of others. A woman content to settle for less than that feast. It’s not the woman I want to be.

Sometimes the hardest thing is going against my own bent–to resist the urge to be myself. That self that has become so accepting and passive. The self who isn’t who I want her to be, whose complacency doesn’t demand that closer look. No, sometimes the best way to be able to truly be myself is to resist the urge to do just that. It seems strange.

Self is a funny thing–some amalgum of past actions, future hopes and all the seeing and being seen in between. Sometimes I get in my own way. Because I can so easily default to my own tendencies in dealing with people and situations, my reactions can become inauthentic. They become habit. They facilitate bad habits. They communicate things that aren’t true. Without my even realizing it. They enable. They make decisions for my without my involvement. They set the course for future actions. Yes, sometimes my own blind predictability is my worst enemy.

One evening last week, I saw something. I saw that woman I want to be. Just a glimpse. In a moment of rebellion against myself, I spoke about things. Things that matter to me. I made demands. About things that are important to me. About deal-breakers. I insisted. On the way I want things to be. I rejected. The shallow nonsense and what merely sounds good. And I saw her.

There she was. That girl. The one who “bears watching.”

oh happy day . Exuberance

The rush of holidays at the end of the year always feels like a whirlwind for me. The way Thanksgiving and Christmas meld together in the celebration machine sometimes leaves me no time for transition. I often feel like I need a way to cap off Thanksgiving. With this year’s kicking-and-screaming approach to the 12 Days series focused on giving thanks, it was nice to reacquaint myself with gratitude for those few weeks and to take time to savor some down time with my wonderful gifts before delving into Christmas fun. It encouraged me to look again at cultivating the discipline of thanksgiving week in and week out.

That’s really how the whole Oh Happy Day thing started. I envisioned it as a way of looking at the blessings of each week and acknowledging them on Friday in the tradition of “TGIF.” Only morphed into just “thank God.” It’s a worthy endeavor and I want to revisit it more regularly in the coming months. With that, Oh Happy Day!

Last night we had a time-honored rite of Christmas celebration everywhere. The Christmas Program. Yes, Baby Girl and Bug presented their annual daycare Christmas program slash musical — where musical is not really a musical, but more like an alternating display of stage frightened toddlers and over-exuberant preschoolers. It’s the exuberant part that caught my attention. Oddly enough, this week I’m thankful for The Christmas Program.

Now, I fully realize that the most obvious gratitude-inducers with The Christmas Program would be “Thank God it’s over,” or “Thank God it didn’t last too long,” or “Thank God noone threw up on the stage.” But, as I made my way through the week of fielding questions from Bug about the event, listening to brief and very cute impromptu promos, and hearing “are you going to come and see my Christmas Program?” from him approximately 137 times, his shear exuberance started to take root. I was really looking forward to seeing the result of his hard work and excitement.

Bug had warned me several days ago that he was planning to “sing loud.” Bug does very many things loudly, and having just experienced the Thankgiving luncheon program at the daycare, I knew he was dead serious in his plan. Sure enough, The Christmas Program was NOT a silent night kind of event when his class came to the stage.

Bug was one of the sheep on the hillside. From the moment my little showman took the stage, I could see by the barely contained grin on his face that he was primed for high volume vocals. He looked through the crowd and spotted me with a big smile and his stage presence took over from there. The all-too-brief nap the sheep took prior to the angelic visit was punctuated by Bug’s own stage direction encouraging the rest of his herd to stand up for the next song. His little body was fairly itching to start the hand-motions encouraging us to witness the birth of the Christ child slash baby doll. His face shown with anticipation as his teacher paused in the story narration to queue the songs. Never have I heard a more resounding series of NOELs in response to the angel’s message of good news. It was downright earth-shattering. It’s hard to believe everyone in the Bethlehem Hilton didn’t hear it and rush out to the stable for a bleary-eyed look. The emphatic “Merry Christmas” and wave goodbye at the end showed me that Bug was entirely pleased at his performance and he beamed when I told him I completely agreed.

Thank God for exuberance. It’s so contagious. I’m very grateful for the ability of my four-year-old to maintain exuberance in the silliest of circumstances. And in the most serious of endeavors. Exuberance is engaging. Exuberance is blind to self-consciousness and indecision. It elevates the ordinary into something extraordinary. Exuberance brings pride to something achieved. It acknowledges that a thing is important. Exuberance motivates laughter and tears. It makes me look anew at simple tales and simple truths. Exuberance makes me grateful for having reasons to rejoice.

Oh Happy Day!

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