Our first Christmas turned out to be a lot like parenting so far. It wasn’t perfect or Rockwell-ish. We didn’t come downstairs to perfectly wrapped presents under a perfectly decorated tree. We came upstairs from our room in the basement to presents wrapped with paper so cheap that the corners of the toy boxes poked little holes on most of the edges and the cats had even further opened many of them. It was a lot of driving with a fussy impatient baby to try to spend a short time with everyone. It was a treacherous drive from the south through thick slushy ice. It was a baby who fussed through present-opening because he was still sleepy and wanted to play with each present as he opened them while we were in a hurry to get to our next destination.
It was all of that but it was also so many amazing things. It was baby shyly peeking from his nestled spot on my shoulder when he spotted the video camera as we emerged up the stairs for our first Christmas morning together. It was the way that he chose the books in his stocking over the cars. It was the way that he just hugged and hugged his little stuffed Batman and daddy’s genes just shone through (his face was shining too with all that nerdy pride).
It was the way that he, with little pursed lips and furrowed brows, had to help daddy put together his new fire truck. Also, true story, it took daddy and Uncle Drew to get the plastic wheels in the thin metal axles of his new favorite toy. Oh, his face when he climbed on and started to roll. It was brilliant. It was the way that he piled on his big boy cousins, just assuming that he was a big boy too. It was Silas looking up at me to check if something was funny or not and when seeing that I was too laughing, his grin would spread even further. It was all of the quiet conversations that daddy and I had when baby slept in the backseat. It was listening to baby scream angrily in the car until Frosty the Snowman came on the radio when he was dead quiet and then picked right back up with the screaming when his song rolled to an end. It was grandparent love and parental pride and baby joy.
I am learning that old Norman painted a pretty picture but he didn’t paint the real world the way I see it. The bad things and the difficult times make the good ones seem better. If you haven’t tasted vinegar, do you really appreciate the sweet honey? It makes you want to work like a little bee for that honey and just savor it.