Have Yourself a Merry Little…Nightlight

January 4, 2007 at 1:53 pm (Uncategorized)

Andrew’s been opening a lot of presents lately.

Since Jay and I have an inter-faith relationship, Andrew gets to reap the rewards of both Jewish and Christian holidays. Hanukkah started on December 15, and for most of the eight nights, he had a new gift to unwrap, or in the case of the basketball hoop from his Grandma in Boston, to go downstairs and marvel at. Then came Christmas. He got his wish from Santa Claus — a tyke-sized snow shovel (exactly how much will he enjoy shoveling snow when he’s required to do so as a teenager?) and a Christmas tree of his own in his room. On New Year’s Eve, he turned three, and my sister and mother created a Caterpillar-themed birthday party (that’s the heavy equipment company not the arthropod), complete with a cake designed to look like a construction site and gifts such as a large functional excavator (equipped with beeping and flashing lights), miniature compacters, and assorted other mechanized wonders. Next week we’ll have a party here at home so that he can share his birthday with his local friends. Then he’ll be able to open the stylish new tricycle from his Grandma in Boston and his airplane pedal car (with a propeller that spins with each pedal stroke) from my brothers and sister.

Jay and I expected that after all the loot he received, Andrew would be a little monster until spring. We assumed that three straight weeks of gift-getting would condition him to expect hundreds of dollars of toys every few days. I spent a lot of time before the holidays brooding about what kind of message we were sending our son.

We shouldn’t have worried. Andrew seemed to learn from Hanukkah, Christmas, and his birthday the joys of giving, not getting. For the past couple of nights, he has distributed imaginary presents to Jay and me and some of his stuffed animals from a pile of “millions” of gifts he has created in his mind. “Open this,” he’ll tell me, cradling his hands as if he’s holding a box. “But, it’ll take some time,” he adds, “because it’s very, very, very well-taped.” I’ll pretend to open a gift and pull something out of box and then ask him, “What is it?” “It’s your very own thermometer,” he’ll say. He gave his father his “very own night light,” and his stuffed dog received his “very own space shuttle,” which Andrew said was waiting for him at the airport.

Leaving aside my jealousy that the plush dog got the coolest gift, Andrew’s generosity of spirit brings tears to my eyes. I haven’t been feeling well lately. My inflamed joints make it hard for me to get around the house, and I’m catching yet another cold. It’s easy for me to dwell on everything that’s wrong in my life — being sick, needing to take more prednisone, and feeling incapacitated. But Andrew makes it impossible to stay in this dark place when he’s around. “I want to tell you something, Mommy,” he said this morning. “What?” I asked. “I love you very much,” he answered and gave me a hug that took my breath away with its ferocity. I’m not sure that Andrew realizes how much goodness he brings to us. But I’ll never forget. Plus, with his Dad’s very own night light, we won’t lose our way in the darkness that surrounds us.

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