When my kids call me “classic,” it’s their not-so-veiled way of calling me old.
While growing older is something I can’t avoid, and don’t want to, given the alternative, old is not a way I want to be, especially not at Christmas.
It used to be easy to do kid-stuff when our children were small. Our Christmas season was filled with holiday fun for them. Getting the tree, decorating, baking cookies, caroling, pageants, parties, stringing lights or popcorn, making crafts, shopping, wrapping … oh, and keeping secret what was under the tree. That might have been the best part of all because it invited those little wondering minds to sneak under the tree when they thought I wasn’t looking to snoop, look at tags and maybe even give that box a shake or two. What delight there is in a child’s wonder! Some things never get old.
Somehow, though, as I have gotten older, the preparations have lost their luster. The kids do their own thing and their Christmas lists have gotten shorter. The gifts are more expensive, more detailed, and often just a request in an email link so I get just the right thing. After all, you can’t count on old mom to know where to get the latest in fashion, fad or technology. Gone are the snooping, the shaking and the secrets. When did we lose the wonder?
This year, however, we have puppies. Two adorable, energetic, exhausting, did I say lovable puppies, and they are full of mischief. The world is their play-thing; everything is for investigating, nibbling, tugging, splashing, eating, or pouncing on. Play is their purpose. Wonder is their world.
When did I lose this? Can it be retrieved? That’s when I came across this in a magazine on my counter:
“Once a day, do what a kid would do.”
I could do this. I could … jump in the leaves, roll down the hill, splash in the puddle, gallop up the driveway… I could let play back in, classic play, simply by asking ‘what would a kid do?’ A kid would look at the lights in the sky and wonder if they could ever fly there. A kid would listen to the shrill whistle of a bird and wonder how a tiny animal could be SO LOUD. A kid would smell the smoky winter air and wonder which neighbor had a fire going and whether there were marshmallows.
Somehow, doing what a kid does even has me wondering what a kid thinks. The recipe? Fond memories, a still vivid imagination, some zany puppies, and an Advent pledge: “once a day, do what a kid would do.”
Unfortunately, what was so easy when the kids were small, now takes dedicated effort. So far I am resisting the urge to Google ‘how to be a kid.’ After all, spontaneity is the door to childhood and wonder is the key. I am putting my foot down: this Advent, I refuse to be an old fart. Wait, can I say that? Why yes, I’m a kid.
If kid gets too hard, maybe I’ll channel a puppy or two. Do you know the best thing about puppies? Even when they are engrossed in tussling and tugging on each other’s ears, they stop and run to you in sheer delight whenever you enter the room. Maybe that’s what will grow in me this Advent season, sheer delight when I see my Master coming.
Here’s the challenge: once a day, do what a kid would do. Of course, my kids will be completely embarrassed by me. Someday, when they have kids, I hope they’ll understand.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 18:3
Why is it that 10 inches of new powder on the mountain delights and 10 inches piled high on my driveway derides? Same lovely white sparkle. Same fluffy consistency. Same complete coverage of everything in sight. The difference: perspective. One, I am meant to go out and play in. The other, I must plow through so I can get about my business.
This hits me like a 2×4, having just returned home from a brief skiing vacation in Utah. There, we stayed at the home of some friends at a virtual ski lodge nestled in hills near Park City. Sitting at the breakfast table my view of the mountains through the three story great room window was magnificent. Peak after peak of white, punctuated with evergreens, framed against an azure sky. Nothing compares, yet we haven’t even headed up the mountain.
I am completely dwarfed sitting there. In awe of the mountains and sky, yes, but also in this lodge of a home. Perhaps because mountain majesty rains in on all sides, the homes are gigantic, the expanse of windows taking advantage of every opportunity to show it off. This means the inside is beyond spacious. And so it must be filled to its proportions: furniture is large and plentiful, wall decoration gratuitous, chandeliers and lighting extensive, walkways and hallways and stairwells built to match. Even the kitchen decor has extra. Extra high cabinets, extra counter space, an extra dishwasher, automatic everything. Even the dishware seems pageantry, not a small bowl or a saucer in the lot. Everything is supersized.
And sitting in its midst I feel very, very small. Majesty does this to you. It right-sizes you. But this home, this lodge draws a caution from me. When we live large, we furnish large, appoint large, accessorize large. Because it fits. And living in that space, what’s large seems just right. Because in proportion to all that’s around it, it is. Try to take a picture to demonstrate the largess and you can’t; everything is in proportion. It doesn’t look large at all.
And isn’t that the nature of the “relative.” Proportion is established by comparison. Oh, it’s not that big compared to his house. It’s not that expensive compared to her dress. It’s not that extravagant compared to their vacation. Humans compare. And we will always fall short. But we keep up so we carry on.
Strangely and very lamentably, the view from the breakfast table started to lose its luster by the 3rd day. Still gorgeous, it was no longer breathtaking like it was on the first. I had gotten “used” to it. I was more animated by changes to its look: sunrise glow and sunset amber, a helium balloon taking off, incoming clouds that brought that powder. Much as I had become accustomed to the accommodations: where the light switches were, which bowls to use and how to work the coffee maker.
Grandeur may grab us but life is what drives us, whether to swoosh through the powder or shovel it in high drifts. Many things out there will right-size us, thank God. But because we do tend to get carried away and not even know it, I am so grateful to have the One thing at the center which doesn’t change in size or shape or price or composition. It is so important for our sense of comparison to have something against which all can be measured fairly and accurately and honestly.
One thing that didn’t diminish in that lovely Park City setting was the dark morning sky; pitch, sprinkled with twinkle and glow. The new moon leaning away shyly from the bold glow of a planet, perhaps Jupiter or Venus? Each of the mornings I tiptoed down the wide staircase while all others were asleep and peered out the back picture window. The stars smiled back in greeting with a perfect “W” – the constellation Cassiopeia. I supposed it was for W-endy.
That God, having some fun. Just dashed off a little note for me on the stationery of the morning sky. “Dear child, before you were born I put the lights in the sky. They are mine as you are mine.” Such a small gesture for a God so large, yet so tender, loving and intimate.
Perhaps, had I wandered outside under those stars I would have heard Him chuckle and say, “If she loves this, wait till she sees the room I have prepared for her.”
Isn’t it funny that two things, set next to each, can look so similar? One under maximum magnification and the other via maximum minification. The images, out of context and with no indication of scale might be mistaken, one for the other.
Neither one can I touch or manipulate. I just sit back and marvel and think…
- Is the cell a tiny universe?
- Is the universe a gigantic brain?
- Did they both come from the hand of the same creator?
Why not? If you’ve got a great design, why not re-use it on a slightly different scale? Or a vastly different scale. Then, one day when human beings have developed instruments capable of seeing a brain cell and seeing the universe, they will stop and admire the handiwork and the hand that created it.
What intricate detail. What magnificent expression. Only something perfectly designed could be so beautiful and work so well.
Makes you wonder.