Babes in Joyland

christmas-children

For nearly ten years now, I’ve felt that birthdays don’t seem as special as they used to. Easter isn’t as exciting, Halloween isn’t as thrilling, and Christmas isn’t as magical as I remember as a child.

I’m looking forward to someday having children of my own and getting to see the holidays afresh through their eyes. But in the meantime, I am blessed to volunteer with the kids ministry at church, and just my brief interactions with them have already made my holidays happier this year.

At Thanksgiving while cooking with my dad, we were watching my nieces play, and he reminded me of when my own little brother was about three. At our family Thanksgiving, Dad encouraged us to count our blessings, and my adorable little brother – with his big, brown eyes and long eyelashes – scrunched up his face in distress, his lower lip trembling. “But Dad,” he cried in his sweet little voice, “I can’t count that high!”

My Dad smiled at the retelling and admitted to me, “I still feel that way.” We are so profoundly blessed.

This past Sunday at church while teaching the elementary kids some Christmas carols, one little girl named Kennedy came and sat in my lap. Halfway through one of the songs, she turned around and told me innocently, “You’re making my eyes water.”

Surprised, I asked her why. She wiped her eyes and whispered in a broken voice, “It’s just so beautiful.”

I want to be that in awe of Christmas. Of music. Of community. Of our God. To sit in wonder – to have faith like a child – that is my prayer for this Christmas.

Authentically Aurora

 

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Breathing Life into Little Piggies

Little Girl Painted ToesMy nieces, “The Adorables”, love to have their nails painted. At ages 2 and 4, they are not yet allowed to paint their own nails, but they love to sit like little princesses and be pampered while Auntie Aurora applies (usually glitter) nail polish to their delicate fingers and toes.

Over Christmas break, I removed chipping red nail polish from my own toes the day before I saw The Adorables in preparation for our nail painting time together. The next day when I pulled off my socks and shoes, Lily (who turns 3 this month) gasped and pointed at my feet.

“Auntie Aurora,” she began in her little voice, “What happened to your toes?”

I laughed and smiled at her as I explained, “I took off my nail polish!”

My feet are pretty calloused from running and years of soccer, so I rarely go without nail polish. On top of that, I have poor circulation in my extremities, so my hands and feet tend to get cold easily, and my nails turn purplish-blue as they become mildly cyanotic.

Lily’s brow stayed furrowed in concern as she gently touched the big toe of my left foot. “Are your toes not breathing?”

My eyes widened in astonishment as I realized that Lily was referring to the blue hue of my toe nails. They turn blue due to lack of oxygenation, so my little 2-year-old niece was right. “That’s right, Lily! My toes are blue because they are not breathing.”

My sister-in-law is a nurse, so I thought she must have had a conversation with Lily about oxygenation, but when I asked my sister, she was as astonished as I was! Lily figured this out all on her own. Displaying greater understanding than most adults. Because she’s precocious.

Who is this child?! Oh yeah. She’s related to me. Precocious runs in the family. 😉

Authentically Aurora

The Silly Goose

niecesOver Christmas, I got to spend a lot of quality time with my two adorable nieces (lovingly nicknamed “The Adorables”). The four-year-old, Wren, is quiet and shy, whereas her two-year-old sister, Lily, is such a fireball that I think of her as my little Tiger Lily.

Lily is a brilliant child. Several months ago as I carried her through the house, she turned her big, beautiful eyes upward to the eight-sided mahogany beadboard ceiling of our family dining room. Pointing a tiny finger skyward, she declared with enthusiasm, “Octagon!”

Another time, carrying her through a parking lot of an airport, Lily pointed over my shoulder to a signpost and read aloud, “No Parking Anytime!” I looked at her furrowed brow, glanced at the sign and did a double-take. With perfect articulation, she had read the parking sign. She is two!

But, brilliant as she is, Lily is definitely still a two-year-old. On Christmas Eve, Wren and Lily both wanted Auntie Aurora to play Duck Duck Goose with them. So we all sat on the floor together, taking turns bopping each other on the head and running around the circle back to our seat before the “goose” could catch us.

When it was my turn to be “it”, I walked slowly around the circle, gently tapping Wren on the head; then Lily; then Wren; then Lily. “Duck… duck… duck… duck…”

Suddenly, Lily squealed in anticipation, “Goose me, Auntie Aurora! Goose me!!!”

There was a stunned silence in the room before all of the adults started guffawing, tears streaming down their faces in laughter. But Lily just beamed with delight as I tapped her on the head and declared her, officially, the “goose.”

Authentically Aurora