Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The gift of wonder



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 listen:

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.

59 comments:

I Dream Of said...

How beautiful, Heather. The gift of wonder. How marvelous. And not just during the holidays, but year round. To forget our worries and woes, if only for a moment, and to see the magic all around us. A moment to breath and stare and be filled with awe and joy. I hope that this season - and the months ahead brings plenty of "emerveillement" to you and yours. XOXO

Catherine Robinson said...

Your afternoon sounds perfect...the gift of wonder indeed...what a magical time of year it is ;)
Wishing you, Remi and your family the happiest of christmases with my love xx

La Contessa said...

WE all NEED WONDER.......and excitement!Your words here describing the children was awesome!I wish I could sit on SANTA's lap once again.............I can remember the excitement standing in line!I loved CHRISTMAS as a child and still DO!I hope YOUR tree and Christmas DAY is BRIGHT and BEAUTIFUL.XOXOXO

Marsha Splenderosa said...

Let none of us forget that beautiful sense of wonderment, let us never be bored or boring, let us all live life with a bright shiny face upon our countenance, and let us all love without boundaries. This is beautiful, Heather, made even more so because of you observance and translation onto the page. Merry Merry Merry Christmas to you, Remi and the doggers.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Just beautiful Heather and your words paint a picture of the magic that is Christmas. Our Christmases as children were as your words and have stayed with me.
Wishing you and your family the merriest of Christmases filled with love and togetherness. XXXX

D A Wolf said...

Heather, This is just gorgeous, and a lovely reminder that wonder is a very precious gift indeed. And yet you mention health and security. This is the direction that I went in, precisely because without these, we are hard-pressed to appreciate the many gifts around us that are, like wonder, priceless.

Sending love for the holidays.

xo

Judith Ross said...

Wonder. Yes. Thank you for this and for keeping and sharing your sense of wonder always.

Happy holidays to you and yours. xo

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you Jeanne for your beautiful wishes. I agree with you tha it truly is a great gift to find the wonder in all things and not just at this amazing time of year. Sending much cheer to you and Mr H!

Heather Robinson said...

Merci la Belle Catherine. And please know that I am sending those wishes up to you in England via Return Post! :)

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you my wonderful friend. I already know how bright and beautiful your tree is and am most certainly hoping that your Christmas will be wonderful, surrounded by the great men in your life. ;) Thank you for the kind compliment too...
And yes, I love this holiday so much...

Heather Robinson said...

What a wonderful sentiment, Marsha. Merci and I wish you the Happiest of Holidays too!
Bisous.

Heather Robinson said...

"Love and togetherness" - I'll take it Jackie! And wish you the same. Thank you so much for the smile today...and yes, those Christmases of the past marked me greatly too. They have stayed in my heart...

Heather Robinson said...

And yet it is possible...I am thinking of my friend Ellie at Have Some Decorum. Did you get to see her blog as of yet? She has neither Health nor Security and yet can be filled with wonder over so many things...it is incredibly inspiring...
Off to read your post!

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you Judith. I am wishing the same for you and Scott and Karina and your boys. I hope that you will all be together at some point for these end of the year celebrations...?
As for keeping a sense of wonder...it helps. Remi actually helps to keep it alive in me as it is so very much alive in him...a good influence!

simpleimages2 said...

Yes. Wonder. “Emerveillement.”A gift from the gods.

Merry Christmas to you and Remi.

Emilia Tremante said...

Dear H. ,
I am so happy to know people who never lose the sense of "wonder".
Precious gift: thank you my dear!
I think you spent Wonderful moments there! Hugs

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

This Christmas event is uplifting and, as usual, your writing is beautiful. Thank you for the gift you continue to give others through your skilfully penned words. May the peace and joy of Christmas be with you and Remi throughout 2015. Amicalement.

Joan McKniff said...

's wonderful. I wonder ..... wonderful. wonder. a sense of wonder.

yes, the gift of a sense of wonder.

merci

Gustia said...

I remember what that was like as a child. The joy and warmth I felt when Christmas time was nearing. I still have a bit of that within me but it's never as intense or pure as when I was a child.

vicki archer said...

Beautiful, Heather... :) xv

shuttersandsunflowers said...

What could be better, children in wonder at Christmas! So lovely thank you Heather

Joan McKniff said...

more wonder: a fresh, damp wreath from Maine just arrived and is now hanging of the Florida front door of this born in New Englander.

Judith Ross said...

Tee hee. Scott is Leslie's hubby!! But Paul won't mind the mix-up. And, yes, I will be surrounded by all of my men this year. Truly the best gift of all.

Karena Albert said...

Heather your words describe this special occasion so beautifully. I remember as a child attending a event similar to this and that feeling of wonder and even then gratitude at the kindness of others. Thank you so much!
xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

Loree said...

Wonder ... that's the best gift to give and to receive. xxx

puppyfur said...

Oh, Heather, how wonderful. You've brought more than a tear to my eye with this beautiful story. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

Jeanne Henriques said...

A precious gift...Emerveillement...wonderful. xxx

Jennifer Connolly said...

A magical afternoon. This is truly the best gift!! Thank you for putting a lump in my throat. A happy lump.
Merry Christmas!

Bill Facker said...

"Wonder" dwells inside each of us .. our beautiful inner child, only waiting for the adult to relinquish control and embrace that pure joy which resides within. Another beautiful post, Heather ... Mahalo!

Bill
www.Kauai-to-Paris.com

sharon santoni at my french country home said...

this is just beautiful Heather, beautifully written (but we are used to that with you) and such a sweet encounter.
love to you

Sharon

xx

LaPouyette said...

Simply very thoughtful, dear Heather.
A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver. ~Thomas á Kempis
You've given with this story a lot to all of us.
Warmest greetings from the Périgord,
karin

Tamera Beardsley said...

Your gracious writing here … brought tears to my eyes. You have captured with eloquence and beauty the magic of the season. My heart thanks you.

xoxo
Tamera

une femme said...

What a magical scene you've described. I'll bet it becomes a treasured memory for every one of those children.

Lisa Southard said...

Those children should grow up happy then, always good to hear. Without appreciation, wonder is harder to find. Bringing wonder to the fore is a vital part of life, and probably my favourite part of winter festivities.

There were years and years of scrimping and making to give my children Christmas presents- the first year we could afford to buy things we decided not to, we gave a small sum to a homeless charity instead. We did buy an oven to cook our dinner in and in the new year I treated us to a TV package so we could watch lots of films, so we weren't entirely un-mercenary. But it was lovely how happy we felt all day. I had the best of it, I think, because my children had chosen to be so kind. They still came to blows over the tv remote, but now that just makes the retelling less sickly!

robin said...

Such a lovely scene and story! One thing that strikes me is how polite the children are! But, yes, the wonder that children have at Christmas is priceless - and other times of year, too! It is a wonderful gift - thank you! But I argue that you give us that/remind us of that in all of your blog posts - you remind us that beauty is all around us; we just need to open up our eyes and appreciate it - whether it's a beautiful vista or a chipped patina! Thank you for this sweet Christmas story and for all of the wonder you give to us each week!

Heather Robinson said...

Oh no!! Ooops. Sorry Paul. I am terrible with names, faces, all of it! And I am very happy to hear that you will have the boys with you too.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you, Edgar. I am wishing the same to you and Mrs. Abstract as well!

Heather Robinson said...

Maybe the gift of Wonder is the secret to Youth?? ;)

Heather Robinson said...

Oh Elizabeth, thank you for all of your kindness and support...for nearly four years now, I think! I certainly don't take it for granted and am sending my Best Wishes for le fin d'année to you and yours as well.

Heather Robinson said...

Oh that made me smile, Joan. You knew that it would...

Heather Robinson said...

I don't think that it could be! But I see and know that you have it still...and you share it with others too which is pretty nifty.
xo

Heather Robinson said...

Merci Madame Archer...enjoy Paris!

Heather Robinson said...

I wish you could have seen their faces...it was just gorgeous.

Heather Robinson said...

It is amazing how such moments stay with us, isn't it. I am wishing you a very Happy Holidays!!

Heather Robinson said...

You have given me quite a lot of it this year in your writing Loree, thank you!

Heather Robinson said...

Really? I think that you and I are both true romantics and hopelessly sentimental...and thank goodness for it too!

Heather Robinson said...

I am glad that you enjoyed this little tale Jeanne. Wishing you good Health and Happiness for the holidays!

Heather Robinson said...

Oh good! Now we are some what maybe kind of even for my crying like a baby after having read your beautiful post!!

Heather Robinson said...

So perfectly put Bill and thank you! Am sending very Happy Holiday wishes to you far, far away...

Heather Robinson said...

And to you...such a kind thing for you to say, especially as you now have us all hanging waiting for the next installment (I hope!) of your Christmas tale...

Heather Robinson said...

Merci pour cette citation, Karin! C'est parfait.
Gros Bisous et Joyeuse Fêtes!

Heather Robinson said...

Namaste, Tamera. I am so glad that you enjoyed this. It was a good moment to have seen...good for my heart too!

Heather Robinson said...

I especially think that all of the children that acted in the skits will remember what they did with pride!

Heather Robinson said...

Ah, whew, at least there is that! ;) But what a wonderful thing to do. I would be absolutely ready to make such a gesture. We don't really need more things but there are certainly those that do...

I was thinking earlier in the day about the success of the song "I'm wasting my young years" over the summer. Did you hear it? It actually has a catchy tune and I have even put it at the end of one of my posts but I was wondering today why that idea had been so popular...? For in youth and the wonder that most often (terribly not always) goes with it, we have a fondation for happiness. Or so it seems to me...

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you Sister, I really needed to hear that today. You always know when too. Love you. :)

Emilia Tremante said...

Yes my dear I really think you found the key.... :-)

Lisa Southard said...

I don't know the song but children are generally good at appreciating the moment rather than material possession- unless it's the tv remote, obviously...
Many charities in the UK run shoebox missions- they give a list of suitable items to fill a shoebox, stuff like basic toiletries and picture books, which are then shipped out to various worldwide orphanages. I suspect that similar projects exist in France- I think you would really enjoy being part of that, it would be worth investigating. Shoeboxes were probably the main reason my two squabblers were so keen to give up Christmas gifts. My daughter is going to do this with her daughter too. It seems to me that there has often been a backlash to commercialism but I'm still pleased to be part of a swell of folks (like you) that are genuinely promoting the real value of life :-)

Rowan said...

Heather, simple story, simply told. The wonder of Christmas shone through and sent a shiver down my spine and eyes a little moist, when I finished reading. Thank you. I felt I was in that room, observing the joy and spirit of the occasion.
Cheers,
Deborah, Melbourne.

Bill Facker said...

Merci .. Happy Holidays to you as well !! Aloha