The joy and wonder of Christmas morning…

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Notes from the Daddy Front
Tags: , , , , ,

Hyla, like most children, just loves Christmas.

If you’ve never been with a child on Christmas morning then I highly recommend it. It’s a morning filled with delight, discovery and new found treasures. Up at the break of dawn, Hyla made sure that we were all up, too. Doors started to bang. Something “dropped” on the floor. And before we knew it, the whole house was up.

Her Mom said, “We’re going to have a nice breakfast and then we’ll open the presents.” Hah.

If you have children then you know that life is filled with moments when you find yourself wondering just who is the parent and who is the child? If we actually thought that we were going to set the agenda for Christmas morning then we had another thing coming. Breakfast? Hyla had other plans, which, of course, meant that the first order of business was to attack the rather large pile of presents that were stacked under our most beautiful Christmas tree.

We let her dutifully go to the tree and select each present, one at a time. Of course, it came as no surprise that the first present she picked was the one that I have been teasing her about for days.

“What did you get me for Christmas this year, Daddy?” “It’s pink”, I smirked. “What else?” “It’s small.” “What else?” “It has a white circle.” “And?” “It has your name on it.” “DADDY – WHAT IS IT?”

She started to guess. And guess. And guess. This went on for days with me saying “No, no, no” each time. On one guess she actually got it right but there was no way I was going to spoil this surprise, which I was quite proud of.

So, when Christmas morning rolled up I knew for certain which the first gift opened would be. Hyla has been coveting my iPod for years and she has been such a wonderful girl this year (and every year) that I decided it was time to get her one. And there it was, her own Nano, pink with a white circle and her name engraved with a message of love from me on the back.

Squeals of delight, eyes big as saucers and a big kiss and a hug for me. Worth every penny.

Now, what I didn’t expect was the speed with which she moved on to the next present. Maybe I was deluded but I really imagined that she would explore this gift for at least a few minutes before moving on to the next. And the next. And the next. But within ten minutes the pile of gifts under the tree had got smaller and smaller and the pile of paper and ribbons, larger and larger.

When she was done she began to attack the pile of gifts, trying to decide where to focus her incredibly short attention span. A few minutes with Barbie. A song on the IPod. A moment with a stuffed animal. It was an ADD-like orgy of laughing, playing and exploring.

Over the next 24 hours Hyla quickly adopted a toy as her new favourite and would then move on to the next. For those few minutes that toy was the center of her world and then, in the next minute, something new commanded her attention. It was as if the first favourite no longer existed.

Anyone who’s been around a 12-step program will be well familiar with the concept of “one day at a time” or one hour, or one minute at a time. It’s a coping strategy designed to help people who obsess about the future or the past without being able to focus on life’s nexus – the present.

Hyla’s life is all about the moment, whatever that may be. Whatever is in front of her is her whole world and yesterday and tomorrow don’t exist for her. And I find that is one of my biggest challenges – staying in the moment.

When I succeed, I am at my happiest. In the moment, I find that I can extract the most joy out of any situation because that’s all there is for me. When I’m obsessing about tomorrow’s challenges or yesterday’s mistakes I tend to miss out on what’s before me and that’s always where my life is – right there, in front of my eyes.

As adults we have many responsibilities and sometimes it’s impossible not to plan or to consider what the next challenge is. But one of the reasons that I so enjoy spending time with Hyla so much is the way that she forces me into the moment – her moment – and there I am, right with her and there’s nothing else for miles around.

A very wise piece of prose suggests that yesterday’s mistakes are beyond our repair and that tomorrow’s challenges are yet to come and I think that’s true. But how do we stay focussed on today’s events without letting our minds wander? How do we hold true to the moment – whatever that may be?

We can’t abandon our responsibilities but we can stop ourselves from obsessing about them. If we are always focussed on tomorrow’s agenda or on yesterday’s errors then we are missing what’s most important – our lives as we live them. And at the end of the day that’s where we gain the most purchase – in enjoying our plans as we live them, not as we make or regret them.

Whatever the formula, Hyla’s got it figured out and for that I admire her greatly. It’s effortless for her and it makes we wonder how and when I made it so complicated. A child’s world is a simple place and maybe that’s where the answer lies.

For many years, when I was younger, I was a magician and I used to marvel at how easily kids could figure out a trick. They knew the coin was in the other hand but adults were always looking for the trap door, or the mirrors, or the rope and pulley system that made the trick work. The very fact that they made it so complicated made them easier to fool and that’ still true today.

In the New Year I resolve to try and keep it simple, to keep my world free of the clutter of tomorrow’s burden’s and yesterday’s errors. Hyla loves her iPod and when she’s playing with it she’s full of the joy of the moment and for that I envy her greatly. There’s no reason why we can’t keep our lives uncomplicated and clutter free and at the end of the day, we are probably our own worst enemies in that regard.

I will try to keep both feet anchored in today and, if I’m successful, there’s absolutely no reason at all why every morning can’t be as magical as Christmas morning was this year. One day, one moment, one present at a time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s