My little granddaughter, Anna, had a battered shoe box full of crayons. About 2 weeks before Christmas I heard her whispering to her sister, Maddy, about a gift for me. Anna was holding the shoebox, and Maddy was telling her to put it under the tree.
"Just put it with the presents," she said, "she won't know."
Of course I sat feigning ignorance, fiercely knitting on the couch. I'm not sure if they think I'm merely oblivious sometimes or hard of hearing.
A few days later Anna complained that she didn't have a black crayon.
"Go get one out of the box," Maddy instructed, both of them glancing my way. I saw this out of the corner of my eye and again played dumb. I played dumb while Anna inched her way to the tree, bent down and rather noisily extricated the shoebox and sifted through it for the right crayon.
"She won't know," I heard Maddy whisper. "You can put it back when you're done."
A few days before Christmas their daddy was checking out the presents under the tree and came upon the shoebox.
"What's this doing here?" he asked, picking up the box and setting it on the coffee table. At this Anna became agitated, and I told him it was supposed to be a present for someone.
"This?" he said, opening the box and peering inside. "It's just a bunch of old crayons."
Poor Anna ran from the room in tears, and I quickly filled him in on her surprise for me.
"Well how was I supposed to know?" he asked.
I told him he'd better go talk to her. He disappeared into the bedroom and ten minutes later they emerged, with the shoebox wrapped in Christmas paper and a big smile on Anna's face.
"I like Anna's voice," Maddy tells me as she lollygags on the couch after school.
"Oh I sure do," she says, sounding for all the world like Shirley Temple. "She has a cute little voice."
I give this some thought so she'll know I'm taking her question seriously, but I really don't have to think about it.
"A writer," I finally say.
"Nana!" she cries, with widened eyes, "that's so cool. You wanted to be a writer and now you are one!"
Oh yeah, totally cool.
When Anna hears I'm making chicken soup for dinner, her expression turns serious.
"Nana, maybe your chicken soup will make Daddy feel better."
"Oh I hope so," I tell her.
"Yeah, because I do love him so and I want Daddy to feel all better, and chicken soup is what people eat when they're sick. So maybe it will make Daddy all better."
These little moments (and so many more) which make up the bits and pieces of my days, are treasures I will carry with me when I am no longer here, a constant presence in their daily lives.
This year, and every year since their births, I've truly been blessed to have these beautiful granddaughters in my life to help me keep my sense of humor, to allow me to learn a bit more patience with my little insiders, and to give me the opportunities I need to play. Their intelligence amazes me, their gentleness and compassion touch me deeply and help me to heal. Their sense of the ridiculous frees me to remember that not all areas of my world are dark and troubling; there is light, there is healing, there are hopes for the future.
2013? I look forward to this new year with cautious anticipation. I've just read some older journal posts and am amazed at some of what I read. I haven't exactly grown in leaps and bounds, but I haven't been rooted to the spot, either, frozen in place afraid to move or dare to dream.
May my readers and I continue the journeys we so hesitatingly embarked on when first we began to deliberately seek healing and wholeness, whether those journeys have been decades in the making or only begun a month ago.
May we look about us and see what is good and light and healing and comfy, even while we delve into our rickety childhoods for anything of value worth salvaging. May we resolve at the beginning of this new year, even if we make no other resolutions, to continue the journey. To move forward one step at a time.
We owe this to ourselves, to one another and to future generations whose well-being in part depends on strides we make in recovering our lives, and healing from our wounds.