As parents, we think we are the ones who teach our children, that this is our job, our mission in life to make sure they have learned what they need to know in order to become the best that they can possibly be. Let me be honest and tell you that I firmly believe that I am not the only one doing the teaching in my household. My children teach me on a daily basis little lessons that I either managed never to learn, or have long since forgotten.
Over the Thanksgiving break, I took the kids to the zoo. We were having a wonderful time, the weather was beautiful and it was a lovely peaceful day. I felt “in the moment” so to speak. We came upon the lion exhibit. My son asked me where the lions were, and I peered in and didn’t see even one of them. I told him I didn’t know, when a woman, looking at me like I was an idiot, said, “He’s right there!” And wouldn’t you know it, he really was right there, on a rock, almost literally right in front of me.
“Well, I can’t see how I missed THAT,” I said feeling rather silly.
I pointed out the lion to junior and he looked, but complained that he wanted to see him better. I tried using the camera to make the lion look closer, but it was no use. He was melting down, insisting that he needed to see more. I just didn’t understand. He ran to the viewing telescope and tried to look, and trying to appease him, I popped a quarter into the machine.
“I can’t see anything! I’m BLINDED!” he yelled at the top of his lungs.
I looked through the telescope, and sure enough, there was nothing to see because it was out of focus. I adjusted the focus, and found the lion in the scope. And what I saw amazed me. There before me was this incredible creature. More beautiful up close than I ever would have imagined. I could see his mane blowing in the breeze and the soft tufts of fur around his neck. And he had eye lashes! Wow. Junior was right. There was so much more to see, so many more details than I was willing to give my time to look at just moments before.
Junior watched that lion for quite a while, finally satisfied that he had seen all the lion had to offer. He was ready to move on to the elephants. As we walked away, I couldn’t help but think about other things that I must be missing. After all, I didn’t even notice the lion sitting on the rock at first. And if junior hadn’t made me stop and take a closer look, I would have missed out on seeing lion eyelashes…..
We walked a while, up the hill towards the elephants when I realized that my mantra, my prayer that I often offer up to God and the universe usually goes something like this…
“I can’t see how I will ever finish.”
“I can’t see how we will ever afford that.”
“I can’t see how it’s going to work.”
“I can’t see how that’s going to make a difference.”
“I can’t see how she feels that way.”
“I can’t see…..”
“I can’t see…..”
“I can’t see…..”
Are you starting to get the picture? How many times in my daily life had I used such phrasing? And what have I missed because of it? How many things have I looked at briefly, believing that I had seen the whole picture, with all the details, when I hadn’t really scratched the surface? What had I not focused in on?
When I told this to Jeff, he pointed out that maybe all of my “can’t see” mantras had actually become a physical manifestation in my life. “What are you talking about?” I said, grumpily holding the paper two inches from my nose. And then it hit me. I literally couldn’t see all that well. Days spent working on the computer had weakened my eyes again and it was time to get back to wearing glasses to ease the eye strain. You wouldn’t believe what a difference they made when I put them on.
Not but a day later, I had the chance to possibly adopt the cute little terrier that I had seen at the county animal shelter. I was the second hold on this cute little puppy and I didn’t think I had a chance at getting him. I told Jeff maybe it wasn’t even worth going. When he asked why I said, “Because I can’t see why someone would miss out on such a cute dog if they had the first hold.” But then I caught myself. I rearranged my thinking and said, “I can see how someone might not have the time to go back to see him on the day before thanksgiving.” And then, “I can see how I have a chance to bring him home. And if I can’t adopt him, then maybe there will be another one there to adopt.” So, we drove to the animal shelter that day. I repeated to myself that I could see myself adopting that puppy. When we arrived, we found out that the people with the first hold had not shown for their appointment. I had the chance to get the puppy I was so in love with. I adopted him that day. Had I let my “can’t see” attitude take over, I would have missed out on my new puppy. And he is a wonderful puppy. Lesson learned.
So, why am I telling you this? Because the holiday season is here, and I know that other parents like me are going to become blinded by a huge list of to-dos. Buying presents, wrapping, cooking, decorating, parties, and a whole host of merriment that is to be made so that the holiday season is memorable. But is it all worth it? Do we really have to worry about how the house is decorated, or would the time be better spent making Christmas cookies with the kids? Or if you hate to bake, would it be better to buy cookies and take the kids on a drive to see Christmas lights? We run around with our hair on fire, trying to squeeze in all of the things we think we should do for the holiday season. We see the big picture but miss the details, the simplicity of the miracles that we are trying to celebrate with Christmas and Hanukkah.
So this is my hope for you my family and friends…
May grace and peace be multiplied unto you. May you not be blinded by all of the fluff of the holiday season. And if you do feel like things are falling out of focus, just stop and readjust. I hope that each and every one of you finds all of your blessings in plain sight, with full clarity, and with all of the little details apparent. So, remember to kick back, drink some hot chocolate, and treat yourself to that extra piece of rugelach, or a sugar cookie. Then, take a deep breath and really look at all the wonderful things that you have in your life. I think you’ll like what you see. I know I do.
Blessings and Holiday Joy to you all!