Christmas began with a miracle. Two kids, aged 4 and 8, happily playing in a hot tub waiting for their Dad to wake up so they could open presents. Not a flicker of impatience.
Then the big event and the squeals of delight that Santa seemed to know just what they wanted— the longed for, the needed, the invitation to try something new. A big breakfast and out into the world on a sunny day, savoring it amidst the rain predicted for the next two. Off to Indian Canyon and joining a surprising number of folks who had the good sense to walk amidst cacti and palm trees for a 3 to 4 mile hike. Malik telling us his story about a red chicken to encourage him when his 4-year old legs got tired. Zadie, that sometimes wonderful big sister, giving him a piggyback when his energy flagged later in the hike. But mostly both of them enjoying the gifts of the near-desert with the adults who love them the most.
Then home to the pool for a few hours of non-stop happiness, Malik with his new water wings and Zadie with her new inner tube which allowed her to float around after the next steps after beginning to master the Australian crawl. I think of Suzuki Roshi’s wise advice when it comes to child-raising (and classroom management):
“The way to control a cow is to give her a bigger meadow to roam in.”
And Whitman’s deep insight:
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Well, we’re not going to sleep out (desert nights are cold), but kids are much happier roaming around outdoors in big spaces than inside a car for 10 hours or inside a classroom for 10 years. Imagine an entire day with barely a single reminder to the grandkids to “behave themselves!”
But on we went to a delicious fajita dinner and then the kids left the table and were so happily engaged, Zadie weaving a pot-holder and Malik building a little city and road with his new wooden toy and cars. A good-night story and the day was done. No guiding stars to announce a miraculous birth nor three wise men starting off on their journey to bestow gifts. Just the simple pleasures of time well-spent with people well worth spending it with.
Writing this on the tomorrow become today and the rain indeed has arrived. So now we will try on our indoor selves. Perhaps a jigsaw puzzle, play our new 5 Crowns game, drawing, reading, singing and maybe an afternoon movie.
Or hot tub in the rain anyone?