So I have this kid. the_child. You may have heard of her?
She’s fifteen. She’s got all the usual frustrations and issues of a fifteen year old. Plus the challenges of fairly severe dyslexia. Plus adoption issues. Plus transracial issues. Plus a father who’s been mortally ill since she’s ten, whom she knows is racing the clock to live to see her graduate from high school. Plus all the pressures you might expect all of the above would place on mental and emotional health.
In other words, she has far more reasons to be the selfish, self-involved, self-pitying git I was at fifteen than I ever did.
And yet she’s not.
For Christmas, on her own initiative, the_child crafted handmade gifts for almost everyone. A beaten copper bracelet, for her mother. A framed print of a photo she’d taken and developed herself, for her aunt. A handmade block puzzle for her grandfather. Earrings for all her female relatives. The few that were not handmade were very personal — a lovely scarf for Lisa Costello, and something very clever and sweet for her grandmother tillyjane that is half concept, half artifact. I mean, we’re talking some deeply thoughtful effort here.
Then she made these cards. Gorgeous pen-and-ink work, with light color accents. Nicer than what you can find in the store. They showcase her artistic talents, and most of them are germane to the gift given, and to the recipient. I’m talking real class here. And again, deeply thoughtful.
But where my daughter really brought it home was yesterday while we were having Christmas at my Dad and (step)Mom’s place. the_child and Lisa Costello and I were there, along with Mother of the Child, tillyjane (a/k/a my Mom), and lillypond (a/k/a my sister). The Niece was supposed to be there, but her dad’s side of the family had gone to play in the snow up on Mt. Hood and were seriously delayed in their return to the Willamette Valley by significant winter weather. We had Christmas dinner sans Niecely participation, then stalled around a bit until cell phone calls determined that they were hours yet away from returning to Portland. Whereupon the_child suggested we simply postpone the rest of Christmas until today, so the Niece (the youngest of us all) could enjoy the whole present-opening process with the whole family. The motion, which had not occurred to any of the adults present, carried by acclamation.
So, yeah, sometimes the_child nails it so hard my heart is like to burst. Though some among us hold faith, as a whole, we are a secular family. For the Lakes, Christmas is about taking a moment to celebrate and love each other, with feasting and tokens of mutual esteem all around. From start to finish, my daughter upheld that tradition grandly in a way that would flood any parent’s heart with light.