There is something so prodigious about seeing the world through a child’s eyes. When was the last time I got as excited or as attached about or to anything? They love harder, purer, without strings, they forgive instantly, and they become emotionally attached to inanimate objects as I only wish I could. They do it so innocently, without qualms or ulterior motives.. Adults get attached to material things and it comes off shallow and unbecoming. A materialistic person loves only those things which they gain from…So what is different? Perhaps this is because children do not love value, they love entirely. They love the rabbit with the ripped ear, and missing button eye. They adore the toy car which no longer lights up when they slide it across the wooden slats of the kitchen floor, and they love to make the noises of its mighty engine. They not only love those things which we as adults no longer notice, they also show passion on a scale that makes me ache. To put away the christmas ornaments; to hop inside a rickety blue sled while traveling at moderately unimpressive speeds down the driveway…these minuet things elicit reactions of absolute horror or complete joy.
I bring this up because today was the day we put away the christmas tree, and spending the day with my 4-year-old niece was truly an eye-opening experience. She decided at lunch that she did not want to take a nap… And she meant it! Her brown eyes can whip from teasing, to happy, to utter desolation in seconds, without even the hint of a pause….Very impressive.
So after her mother decided to let her “postpone” nap time…there was noo way she was getting out of it entirely.. she and I set out to remove the tinsel from our Charlie brown tree, while everyone else got the totes from the shop. She grabbed my hand and tugged me along towards our prize (at this point I think she was just happy she didn’t have to nap) but as I began to gently remove the delicate silver strands she at once started to panic.
“I don’t want to take away the tinsel Auntie Brit Brit!…It makes the tree sparkle!”
“I know baby, but we have to throw the tree away. Don’t worry, we’ll get tinsel next year.” …Little did I know that I had made a grave mistake….
“Throw the tree away? But Brit Brit, It’s a new tree…please don’t throw it away. I like this tree…He likes me. Please Brit Brit, he’s brand new…he’s just a baby.”
“aw sweetie. He’s dying anyway. Were going to get pine needles all over the floor if we don’t put him outside now.”
“Dying?…” her lip started to tremble. “I don’t want him to die auntie.” At this point I had stopped removing tinsel and I was worried she was going to start crying.
“Don’t cry baby doll. He’s going to tree heaven, and next year we will have a bigger better tree…But this one is tired…and we don’t want to make him work so hard being pretty when Christmas is over do we?..I mean look at all these heavy ornaments he has on….It must be really hard work!”
“Yea? Do you think he needs to nap?”
“Yes love…He needs a rest…Tell you what! Why don’t we stack all the tinsel on auntie’s arm and then you can wear it as a sparkly wig.”
She began to take the tinsel off with vigor when my mom and Allen came back in with the totes. Throughout the process she would get sad and longingly whine about her tree and her ornaments…We let her take a couple to her new bunk bed and continued to tear down the fantasy we build every year. The trains were placed lovingly in their boxes, the delicate ornaments were wrapped in tissue carefully, and the popcorn/cranberry strings were set aside to feed the birds. The tree was removed from its stand and my niece followed us slowly outside, its needles falling to the snow and boughs brushing the ground with a sweeping sound. We counted to three as we tossed it to its final resting place near the fire pit.
“Goodbye.. Sleep well.” She smiled at me, and then began to throw horribly formed snow balls. This began an epic battle where most of the snow ended up on the annoying dog, whom was bouncing on all of us in a surprisingly efficient plan to tear the snow from our hands. Her laughter rang out in the crisp air with delight; her smile…snot running from her nose..seemed to reach both ears. We soon were joined by my two-year old nephew and we (Allen and I) took turns running them up and down the driveway in their sled. The fun ended with hot chocolate and marshmallows, shared with a tiny green plastic spoon.
I have many wonderful moments with my niece and nephew, but today I learned that she is the perfect age to teach. I watch how she lives and I long to return to a time when it was that simple…I see the joy she gets in things I take for granted, and I experience the pain she feels for things I no longer mourn. What a gem she is. So I suppose what I am getting at is this…Don’t take the little things for granted, love without reservations, and experience each moment as if you were four and seeing it for the first time. Let’s not mourn the loss of our innocence, but embrace those who still exude it.
Cheers to Life!