We live lives of quiet desperation, or we make a choice to live lives in the moment, relishing the little things that make it all worthwhile. Usually, those are not the "Big Gifts", but instead are the "Simple Gifts" that end up being so meaningful and long remembered. As those of you who are long time blog readers probably already know about us, for our family, the simpler the better. That's not to say we are not up for an adventure or two along the way (and we've surely had those!), but those aren't the things that define our happiness.
The past few days were filled with those seemingly insignificant moments. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded with tiny pockets of joy, and it just felt so sweet and life affirming. For all the challenges that living a life brings, there is the distinct pleasure of the smile or hug amidst the turmoil.
I was blessed...and I do mean blessed...to witness a commitment ceremony for a friend of ours who has come through a time of incredible emotional trial to find love on the other side. Seeing not the blush of young, innocent love, but instead witnessing a more mature, wiser, "been there, done that" kind of love was a different sort of experience. Few were present other than immediate family as I fulfilled my commission to take photos of their special moment, and seeing her beau take her son under his wing as if he was his own reminded me of just how many men and women willingly tackle step-parenting with all their hearts. But for me, the especially poignant moment was when she knelt down for her turn to make recite her vows to her son, and the look that crossed her face as she attempted once...twice...three times to put her love for her son into words, only to find herself coming up short in trying to describe the depth of her love for him, ending in an embrace as deep and as long as could be...that was a real gift.
Many wouldn't find Simple Gifts of the heart on a trip to Walmart, but that is exactly where I found myself thinking over and over again how incredibly lucky the seven of us are to have found one another in this big world. It is understandable that through the course of every day life, certain things are taken for granted. Having a happy family is the wealth that I wish to be measured by, and if so, then I am worth more than Bill Gates and Steve Jobs combined. Here we are, all of us traipsing from aisle to aisle so that I don't have to do grocery shopping alone, Dominick wandering off here and there with one kid or another, and we are laughing, joking around, and having a great time. At Walmart. With a full shopping cart. For no reason at all. Angela must have been feeling the silly happiness too, as she asked me quietly, as we walked toward the cash register, "Mom, how come everyone always looks so sad or mad? Why doesn't anyone ever smile?" and I briefly said something like, "Well honey, some people have very hard lives and life isn't very happy for them. " and she said, "I know for some people that is true, but not for everyone. I think I know why. They haven't had someone teach them that they can make a choice to be happy. I think that is what you and Dad teach us every day, that even on the hard days, you can make a choice to be happy and thankful for what you do have, instead of being mad about what you don't have."
If Angela is correct and we have managed to teach our children only that one thing, then I'll feel successful as parent. Knowing our kids are really internalizing some of what we find to be truths in this life is priceless.
On Sunday, Matthew, our man of few words, showed us in music and images how he has internalized his family's values. He created a special short presentation to be used during the offering. He spent several hours working on it, after a mere 30 minutes or so of basic instruction with Windows Movie Maker software. I brainstormed with him to get his creative juices flowing, and I briefly showed him what some of the effects were with panning, and fading in and out of images. That was it, and he was off and running. He shyly showed me his first "rough cut" of it, and my jaw literally dropped. Now, it is not a Hollywood presentation by any stretch, but he selected lovely music that had all of us singing around the house for days (and Josh STILL is). What spoke to me, as his mom, was how he so sensitively and innately matched images and effects with the lyrics so beautifully that I would never have thought it was a first effort. It was Matt's way of telling us, whether in words or not, "I get it, Mom and Dad, I really, really do." I am sharing it below so Grandma can see it, as the file was too big for us to email...and I am laughing as she wouldn't know how to open it and view it anyway! HAHA! Sorry, Mom!
This week, I had the love and support of numerous friends, hugs galore, time to read a chapter or two in a couple of books, had a hubby who loves me come home to me each and every night, and had an icey cold Diet Coke or two...or three :-) Spring is sort of in the air, life begins anew, and the Simple Gifts are the things that I cling to that let me know I have a bounty right before me.