The Gift of Noticing
My house is now poised for action: waiting to spring open its doors for the clown car of kids about to arrive. The siblings and plus ones and best friends all want to come here for winter break. We’ll be busting at the seams with 10 young adults—who are tall and energetic and take up all the cushions on the couches and eat up all the food in a locust consumption style. There will be laughter and games and snap chats and music and loud discussions about politics and travel and technology and Netflix.
When my kids were young, I poured over toy catalogs and ordered all my gifts over the phone. I looked forward to the day they opened these presents I’d carefully chosen with their happiness in mind.
Today—my adults—I’ve felt the shift coming—it’s not about the presents under a tree. The event of the holiday is not what it once was. It’s a chance to all share square footage, it’s memory lane and brand new experiences and optimism for the future.
The best gift we give each other is noticing.
There are questions about what each person is up to, what aspirations, who they are with now, and comments on hair cuts and new games and someone’s changed fashion sense.
The new and revised opinions, the changes from vegetarian to meat eating and back again, the hobbies acquired, the shared big kid toys, the shows we’ve binge-watched in each other’s absence and the one movie (Coco!) we’re saving to watch together: this is the stuff of holiday time now.
It’s too easy for me to drop into yesterday or tomorrow and forget about today—noticing all that it represents now, in the lives of my ever-evolving people who don’t even hold a candle to what I wished for them—so far do they exceed my imagination. The rich, nuanced, full-bodied unique people they’ve become—they are the greatest gift to me and I want to open it, and notice all the contents—shake them out on the carpet and enjoy them one bit at a time, commenting, affirming, sympathizing, and enjoying.
Here’s to a season of noticing all the loveliness that is your family: even if there is a hem of pain or a backstitch of loss. Especially to those of you rearranging family this holiday—I know that challenge too and maybe you can notice a few new things like: space to feel, time to do something for yourself, peace, rebirth.