It was seven years ago, today.
Our oldest Granddaughter, Julia, was two and a half and her sister, Riley, was just a little over one.
I had gone to babysit as I did three times each week.
The little girls were sick. Their cheeks were glowing and glorious. I remember how pretty they were…red hair damp and curly from their slight fevers.
In the process of sick children, our daughter-in-law had not had time to finish decorating the tree. It sat in the corner bedraggled and sad awaiting finery that had not yet appeared.
I had warmed the bathroom up and put the girls in a lukewarm tub to play. They were quite occupied with bath crayons. Julia was happily scribbling away while Riley attempted to eat the spongey red and blue discs.
Suddenly, mid-scribble, Julia stopped and got very serious, “Gwamma, this is my sad face.” I asked her immediately, “Why do you have a sad face?” and she replied with great sincerety, “No staw, Gwamma.”
I didn’t understand her, so I asked her again. “No staw, Gwamma,” she repeated, blue eyes big and solemn.
“No straw, Julia? You want a straw?” She patiently repeated it to me, slowly, like I was a very dumb adult, “No staw on twee, Gwamma,” then she held up the yellow and blue bath crayons and pantomimed drawing in the air. “Mine color a staw for twee, Gwamma,” she said. She had a little trouble with her pronouns back then.
I got them out of the tub, cuddling their sweet slippery, clean baby chubbiness in fuzzy bath towels. After they were dressed all warm and cozy in their tiny, blue jeans, turtlenecks and slipper socks it was snack time. After half-heartedly consuming a few crackers, Julia started again. “Gwamma. I sad. No staw on tree.”
So I commenced a search for paper, crayons, and glitter which was mostly futile. After much digging I finally found a manilla folder, some little kid’s crayons, a yellow highlighter and some glitter tubes.
We sat at their little table. Julia colored and colored and colored with crayons and the yellow highlighter all over that manila folder where I had drawn a big star for the top of the tree. While she colored Riley ‘helped’ by attempting to eat the crayons and making that gaggy, stick-out-your-tongue face that seems synonymous with trying to dine on crayolas.
Finally, finally yellow highlighter, multi-colored crayon squiggles and a few bath crayon accents completed a magnificent star. The glitter pens were dried up but Julia didn’t care. She thought her star was perfect.
After watching me carefully cut all the way around the outline of the star, Julia looked at me with a solemn face and pointed at the top of the tree. I lifted her up high into the air and after a few seconds deliberation she finally knew where she wanted to put it.
As I lowered the sweet weight of her down her peach soft cheek brushed against mine.
Safely on the ground, she put her chubby starfish hands onto her tiny jean clad hips. “Oh,” she said softly, “Gwamma, is a staw…” and her beautiful round blue eyes just sparkled with happiness.
I will never forget her face in that moment.
I will never forget the glorious satisfaction she found from a manila folder and a yellow highlighter.
Each year since when I place the angel on the top of our tree, I think of Julia and her ‘staw’…
And I am determined to find Christmas in my heart…
No matter how hidden away it seems to be some years..
Bless you, my dear friends. You have lightened my heart this year, shared my silliness, shared my sorrows and have offered acceptance and reassurance in an extremely difficult time of my life.
Even when you haven’t known it, there have been so many times you have been the star on top of my tree. I thank you for that and I send each of you the wish and the hope that each of you has a star adding joy to your life this holiday season.