I have three doorknobs from old Victorian houses. They sit right in front of me near the kitchen bar where I write. An Etsy artist has converted these doorknobs into clocks—and I love them. For me each doorknob represents a house with its rich history and many moments. Here I often pause and think about our moments. Especially at the start of a new year.
I had a moment this week—and I bet you did, too. Mine happened after our big Christmas brunch, a long-held family tradition inspired by son’s love of cheesy eggs and bacon—although he no longer eats bacon.
But on Christmas Day and for weeks before, I am more Martha than Mary. I clean. I scrub. I bake coffee cake from my mom’s recipe and ice dozens of sugar cookies. Then on Christmas morning my family comes, and there is a flurry of opening gifts, surprises, and the experience is laced with eggnog, coffee cake, and followed with cheesy eggs and potatoes.
This year my three grandchildren received a Gingerbread House kit from Santa. After brunch, amid all the chaos and toys, they seized on this gift and headed to their workspace table—my unused dining room. Macy, the seven-year-old, had the two-year-olds in tow. After she ripped open the box and scanned the directions, she carefully doled out the gumdrops to little Stevie and the icing tube to Harper. Macy held tightly to the candies. For over an hour they labored over the gingerbread walls to create designs and decorations that would rival any Jackson Pollack painting.
Eventually the sounds of children’s voices called to me like a Siren, and I found myself slipping silently onto a dining room chair where these little cherubs were fully engaged. Even I was in the moment. Three lovely children on Christmas day were playing together. Exuberantly. Even joyfully. Their fingers were covered with icing and they were eating as much of it as they were using to decorate and glue candies and gumdrops onto the walls of the deconstructed gingerbread house.
What happened next surprised me. When their design looked complete, Macy tried to glue the four walls of the house together with icing, but each time she stood the walls up, they fell. On her first try the children were quiet with surprise when the walls collapsed. But then the magic that seems to come of Christmas kicked in. Without a word Harper and Stevie held the walls for Macy as she plastered the edges of the gingerbread house with more icing. When they were ready, they let go again. But this time one of the walls broke in two as they all tumbled over. No moans erupted. Instead Harper giggled first. Then they all laughed, and she added, “This is a silly house and needs a new design.”
They studied the pieces. “I think we can stack two walls together and make two beautiful cookies,” Macy announced. Then she looked up, caught first my eyes and then the eyes of her cousins before adding in all earnestness, “Play is hard work. Sometimes you have to help each other fix whatever breaks.” The cousins nodded. “We will make cookies instead of a house!”
“Gingerbread cookies,” shouted Stevie, clapping his hands.
“Gingerbread Oreos,” Harper corrected him. They squealed with delight. And that was my moment. Children at play. Children in the moment. Children reminding me that laughter, joy, and fixing things together works whether you are seven or seventy years old. In 2019 I am holding tightly to this special memory.
Wishing you a new year filled with moments to cherish and share!