Late last Saturday afternoon as the light was fading to blue, I found myself at a private event of the type of which I am not used to attending. It seemed that little expense had been spared for the corporate holiday party for a select group of cadres or executives of an important construction company and more importantly, their children.
The little ones arrived into the elaborately lit reception room at the rented mas or farmhouse with blinking eyes as they struggled out of their coats. Wiry arms flailed with shuffling feet, hands brushed mittens off roughly, leaving a trail that the parents would gather in their arms. There were only twelve children in all, ranging in age from four to thirteen or so. The littlest were carried around the room by their parents to see the decorations, the tinsel, the fairy lights. But each would end up, one moment or another, staring wistfully and slightly slack-jawed at the Christmas tree that was surrounded with carefully wrapped presents.
A band of three brothers, the littlest cupping the hand of the biggest, were especially interested. They pointed and whispered and nudged each other in the ribs, trying to find the package that was inscribed with their name. "Don't touch!" their Father would call out if one of them got too close and they would immediately back away slightly before hypnotically inching forwards again.
But the show was about to begin. Un petit spectacle! Without being told the children all sat down in rows before the playing area, some on their knees, other crossed-legged but each with faces raised towards the host in his gold glittery top hat. He charmed them effortlessly into hanging on to his every word and made the adults seated in the back giggle with muffled laughter. When it was time for volunteers to come onstage, so many hands shot up with urgency, backs arching to get pointed fingers higher in the air. Each storyline presented was then acted out with gusto with only the occasional waves of shyness stealing a voice under the glare of the spotlight. When the youngest of the brothers, only four and half, was chosen to play a prince, he arrived onstage with a polite bow. The host turned searching to the audience and said, "Now, we only need a princess." Lo and behold, the tiniest of the girls, who had been dancing on the tips of her toes, bounced forward and raised her hand - same size, same age. Everyone in the room let out a sigh of sweetness. It was too perfect to be true and yet it was.
The buzz of hopeful energy blazed brighter after the show ended. For here he was, enfin, Papa Noêl! Did it matter that this particular Father Christmas was wearing an ill-fitting suit and had to hold his beard to the side of his face? It did not. One by one, each name was called and the children would dutifully, respectfully sit next to him and smile gratefully as they accepted their gift. He bent to kiss the youngest on the tops of their heads and bumped fists with the oldest of the boys. There were no wisecracks and no rolling of eyes. When, the last gift was delivered and the last photo snapped, it was announced, "You may open your presents now." And so they did, slowly, not with the impatience that I had expected. It was as if they were sipping the anticipation and savoring the moment at the same time. I stole a glance at Remi and his face, so wide open, so beautiful, mirrored the expressions that were lighting up around the room. For one moment and then several, our hearts were lifted up into a simple pure joy as bright as a star. "What is the word for it in French again?" I asked. "Emerveillement," he responded quietly. We both were smiling in spite of ourselves. That is right, I nodded internally. Wonder. And in that moment, I knew that I too had been given a special gift.
Today's post is my contribution to the monthy series where an international group of bloggers come together to write on the same theme. For December, the question was asked: "If price were no object, what would you give to your loved ones?" It has been a challenging year in many ways for me and my loved ones, despite being filled with much good too. It wouldn't have been inappropriate to have chosen "Health" or "Security" but after seeing those sweet faces, I would give my friends and family the feeling that is so linked to the best of the holidays - one free of worries or cares - a moment of wonder.
To read what the others members of this group would give, please click here.
Sending out a lot of Good Will today...and wishes of Peace too.