Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Plastic Potato and a Purple Pony

My nephew, Grant, will graduate from high school in a few weeks. When he was a toddler we used our fancy new 8mm video camera to capture some of the key moments of his childhood. A Christmas; some birthdays; an Easter visit at our house.

After a few years of watching (and taping) as all seven of our nieces and nephews grew up, we stopped using that camera. It either broke or we gave it away so we still have the tapes, but no mechanism to watch them. And that technology has long since come and gone.

But, then, there’s eBay. A week ago, I “won” an old camera that will not only play the 8mm tapes, but lets me import them to my computer and convert them to a digital format.

mr-potato-headAnyway, two nights ago (and sixteen years later) there on our Mac was two-year old Grant carefully opening packages, singing “Rudolph,” and gleefully enjoying Christmas Day, 1995. The big moment, though, came when he opened one of the gifts that Sally and I had for him. “Tata-head,” he shouted, “Tata-head, Tata-heeeaaad! Tata-head, Dad. Tata-head, Annie!” He stood on the couch on his tip-toes and with all his heart, “Tata-heeeaaaadddd!”

It’s a plastic potato, after all.

And that episode reminded me of the time a few years prior when we gave Bridget, our oldest niece, a miniature (also plastic) “My Little Pony” of an unnatural, bold, dark purple shade, a shiny light purple mane, eyes two big for its head, and stars and sequins on its back. That gift, quite literally, forced the breath to escape from Bridget’s little body. She was speechless (unlike Grant) and momentarily unable to breathe as she held her precious friend tight to her chest.

Would that we could carry that unabashed joy throughout our lives. It’s hard to celebrate so easily and so simply when combined with our happiness we face challenges, and sickness, and sadness, and pain. My sweet young loved ones had not yet witnessed those things so their pleasure was uncomplicated by anything other than the moment itself. It’s a shame that they have and will experience times of sorrow, but such is life for all of us.

I’m pretty good at seeing light through darkness, but today (thanks to Grant and Bridget) I am going to try a new mantra when the clouds roll in. It goes like this:


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