On a dark, wintry December night, I asked the family to come outside to see my Christmas light display. I’d worked hard on it and I wanted to spend a quiet moment looking at simple beauty of white twinkle lights adorning our trees and bushes.
Henry had no shoes or socks on, so I carried him. Hubby carried Abby. We walked the short distance from our front door to the sidewalk in front of our house. As we walked away from our home and the lights, we walked toward a decadent, full moon, silhouetting the inky, craggy branches of thousands of trees. Its crisp light highlighted our path.
We turned and looked at the lights. They were (if I may be so bold) exquisite. Thousands of white lights illuminated our branches, the cold winter ground and the front of our home. The winter air refracted the light, stretching the hue of the lights. We stood, four-strong, suspended in an tapestry of illuminated gratitude.
Abby and Hubby headed inside, but H asked that he and I walk around to the back to see the special bush I decorated for the kids. You see, I’m a bit of a Christmas light purist; I like small, white twinkle lights. PERIOD. My kids would prefer a bit more kitch with icicles, a blow-up Santa and reindeer and rainbow lights. In the spirit of compromise (and familial peace) I acquiesced and decorated a bush in the back yard with big, old-fashioned colored lights. When I showed Hubby, he said,
So, you… gave the kids a decorated bush by the back deck?
Well, um, Yeah…but that wasn’t exactly the response for which I hoped. Sigh.
With our twinkling, white lights guiding our way, we walked to the back yard. With Henry still in my arms, we stopped when the multi-colored glow of our Charlie Brown Christmas bush greeted us.
Quickly, I ceased watching the lights and chose, instead, to study the glorious profile of my son, my baby. His still-round (hallelujah) cheeks were sillouhetted by the full moon. The moon back lit his blond, tousled hair. I took in his arms, wrapped tightly around my neck. The cold seeped through my thin, white Gap tshirt and teased at my thinly socked feet. Henry said,
Come on, Mommy, wet’s go back inside.
I asked for just a moment longer. He obliged and I watched as he closed his eyes, as if in supplication of the moment. I followed his lead. We said not a word. The air, tinged with the gorgeous scent of our fire, filled our lungs. We stood in symbiotic peace, with his heavy body monkied to mine; I heard the swoosh of his arms against the nylon of my black vest. The heedy moonlight cascaded around us, dark shadows dancing on the fringe.
Just as the Christmas lights pierced the dark with their beauty and refracted in the cold air, my love for this boy swirled and shone into the night, allowing Henry to bask and absorb it all. I tried my best to do the same–to absorb this brilliant, quotidian moment.
I remembered, with a sudden pang, that earlier on this day Henry had pulled his own tooth. His first tooth. Just before he pulled it, I was prepared to study his face, the topography of his smile, the bright-white, square baby-toothed space. Suddenly, he reached up and pulled that tooth out. As cliche as this may sound, he pulled my heart out, too.
Henry and I stood a bit longer and with a hug, headed back to the front of the house. When we got to the front porch, Henry wanted to ring the door bell. Sure, I said, as I knew that this would afford me more time to soak him up: his scent, his cheeks, his now forever-altered gum line. I began to shiver as we waited for Hubby and Abby to open the door. Henry leaned in tighter and said,
Don’t wowwy Mommy. I’ll keep you wawrm.