Thursday, December 30, 2010
Moon shadows and perfect Christmas moments
I had my first Perfect Christmas moment early this year, the Sunday after the Thanksgiving weekend.
It was a cool, crisp day and nobody had any plans. The whole family pitched in and put up the Christmas decorations. Everybody was excited. We all worked together. The Christmas spirit was in the air.
The Emmerich Christmas decorations are, not surprisingly, reflective of our family’s nature. High in intensity, low in subtlety. Pull in the cul-de-sac of Rebel Drive in Loho and you will see a blast of flashing Christmas lights.
The lights are hung around the wire frames of a Christmas tree, a snowman and candy cane, but after we got through, the shapes just look like big blobs of bright flashing colored lights. It’s the thought that counts.
Eight-year-old Ruth’s job is to turn the lights on every night and she takes this responsibility very seriously.
That night, the whole family cooked. Knowing that I would soon be destitute from Christmas bills, I have gone on a home-cooking kick. Since my children only eat chicken fingers and pizza, this involves homemade chicken fingers and homemade pizza, both of which turned out deliciously.
I have to admit after analyzing the grocery bill, I’m not sure I saved any money, but it was sure fun to have the whole family talking and laughing and cooking together in the kitchen.
We had a fire going and - just to prove there are miracles - I actually got the family Christmas song favorites to come up on the computer and play properly through the stereo system. We took breaks from the cooking to do some dancing. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was happy. It was a perfect moment that I will cherish forever.
Two weeks later, I had another perfect moment. Lawrence and I were watching the Saints game, when I realized I was missing a beautiful sunset. The game was tied and Lawrence wasn’t budging, but Ruth had been wanting me to jump on the trampoline with her all afternoon.
As we bounced, unending squeals of laughter emanated from Ruth’s little body. We watched the beautiful pink, orange and blue hues as dusk settled onto our peaceful piece of paradise.
“You see, Ruth,” I said. “God makes a painting for us every sunset to show us how much He loves us and how great He is. Each one is unbelievably beautiful. Each one is different.”
“I know,” Ruth said.
Is there anything more perfect than an eight-year-old child? Is it not the perfect age? They are still children, yet old enough to communicate intelligently. They still love you. They still have their childlike joy and awe.
Oh, if I could only keep her just the way she is. But I know that is not to be.
After the trampoline, we swung in the hammock, watching the stars slowly emerge. Our backyard abuts an old hidden graveyard and it feels like you are in the woods miles from any city.
As we rolled out of the hammock, Ruth shouted, “Look Daddy. The moon!” Sure enough, a gorgeous full moon was shining down, bathing us in moonlight. The beams were clearly visible as they reflected off the low-hanging tree limbs.
As I pointed out the moonbeams and told her what they were, I suddenly realized a father only gets one chance in a lifetime to explain moonbeams to his eight-year-old girl.
“Look Daddy,” she exclaimed. “The moonbeams are making a shadow.” Sure enough, our silhouettes were perfectly outlined on an open spot on the ground, surrounded by intense moonlight.
I began to sing to her, “I’m being followed by a moon shadow. Moon shadow. Moon shadow. Leaping and hopping on a moon shadow. Moon shadow, moon shadow.”
I surprised myself by recalling all the words to that old Cat Stevens song. I sang and we hopped and leaped to the tune.
I won’t pretend life is free from pain and disappointment. I have had my share. Nothing compared to the genuine misery of the oppressed, but real to me. We each face our own unique challenges.
But interspersed in our relentless struggle are these perfect moments, little gems that sparkle so brightly that when you find them you forget all the pain it took to find them.
It is my hope that each of you are able to find your perfect moments this Christmas. They are not always easy to find. Be alert. Be ready for them. They are too precious to miss and once they pass they are gone forever.
My family and I are so grateful to all the readers and advertisers that have made it possible for us to live this wonderful life in this wonderful paradise we call home.
Merry Christmas and may you all have a blessed New Year.
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