As a parent you often hear others talk about Christmas morning in glee-filled tones as they recount how their children smiled as they opened their gifts. For many it seems to be the definition of Christmas. But, as many of you are aware: I clearly am not everyone else.
While my children played with their gifts this year a stray thought worked its way into the forefront of my mind. Christmas wasn't just in those frenzied moments of excitement as they tore through brightly colored wrapping paper. Not even in the screams of joy as they discovered the treasures contained within. No, Christmas was in those quiet little moments that awaited them later.
I watched them as they scattered to play and digest the sum total of what had been added to their personal horde. Like contented little dragonlings they scrutinized their tiny mounds and tried to commit them to memory. Now, as a father of 4 I can assure you that this by no means a common occurrence, but one that can only be explained as a miracle side effect of Christmas. Because in those quiet little moments children can be found absentmindedly sharing and playing together without any thought of the matter. In those precious moments a child can set down and play with a a sibling and explore a new toy. A boy can inspect a girl's gift without any scrutiny or insult. There is a true and pure magic in those moments.
Watching my kids simply coexist without argument or parental intervention brought back so many memories. Christmas that seem like forever ago where I myself could just immerse myself in a new set of Lego's and my brother might join me or one of my sisters might marvel at what was forming before me. A time where I could ask of them what they got as well and be regaled by explanations of just what their new acquisitions could accomplish or the delights they promised to provide.
Do you recall any of those simple little magical moments? A time when all the troubles and inequalities would melt away to be replaced by simple joy? The arrival of absent friends or a phone call from a loved one to simply ask in the early morning excitement: "So what did Santa bring?" Knowing full well the flood of detailed litanies that the query might unleash.
Yes, indeed; Christmas is found in those little moments. And while they are sometimes fleeting, I will forever hold them in my heart. May you cherish them too.
And, hey: let's hope there are many more to come!