Tis’ the season of stress!
I swear, if we even think about getting together with friends or family, someone in our house gets sick. And making plans to Christmas shop almost always means something in our house or garage will break and require expensive fixing. Forget visions of sugar plums. I dream of wine and putting my feet up.
I wish I enjoyed the holidays. I try! It’s just so darn hard!!!! The christian in me says that’s Satan’s fault. I imagine he loves decking the halls with stomach bugs and broken dishwashers. Jerk.
The only comforting part, is that I know I’m not alone. Everyone seems stressed this time of year.
Except my daughter, Willow.
Willow is 5 years old and loves everything about Christmastime. Willow likes singing, Christmas has caroling. Willow likes pretty things, Christmas has lights and decorations. Willow likes friends, Christmas has Santa. It’s a bonus that Santa brings Willow gifts!
The other morning, while waiting for preschool to start, Willow went around tapping people on their shoulders, legs and backs, eager to share a message.
“Tanta!” she’d say matter-of-factly.
Most of her classmates were busy attempting to put their coats and backpacks away, so they’d just smile and say “Hi, Willow!”
Sensing their lack of understanding, she’d usually repeat her message.
Occasionally, a parent would ask “What’s that you said?” Some just looked at me with confusion. That’s when I would assume the roll of translator.
“She’s saying Santa. I have no idea why.”
For some reason, Willow felt it necessary to tell everyone in that tiny gathering area about Santa. I’m not sure if she was trying to tell them he’s coming, or that he’s real, or that she knows him. I just know she felt strongly about spreading her message. Thankfully, most parents found it amusing.
Later that morning, while chipping away at my never-ending to-do list, the image of Willow telling her classmates about the big bearded guy popped into my head. Then I smiled.
Here I am, full of stress. There she was, full of joy.
While I didn’t realize it when she was doing it, I finally understand. Willow was attempting to spread joy!
The idea that everyone with Down syndrome is happy all the time is as ridiculous as the song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” That being said, Willow does carry a large amount of joy within her tiny frame. This time of year it seems to overflow.
Day-to-day life is already overwhelming. Add the hustle and bustle of Christmas and it can sometimes seem impossible. Willow is my reminder to smile. She is my joy. And I love that she shares her excitement for the season with others.
Today I took at trip to the fish market to buy some treats for Christmas day. Apparently people like their seafood during the holidays. The parking lot was packed.
As I pushed Willow’s stroller through the door, I caught sight of the exhausted gal behind the counter.
“HI!” I heard Willow scream.
Immediately, I laughed. The girl behind the counter smiled.
As I pushed Willow around the counter, another employee emerged.
“Mommy sopping!” Willow declared seriously.
“What was that, honey?” the worker asked.
I quickly answered, “She’s just saying that mommy is shopping.”
“Beh-ya scoo!” Willow added.
“Yes, Bella, your sister is at school.”
Slightly embarrassed, I continued to push the stroller and scan the shelves. Then I heard giggling. The girls behind the counter were talking about Willow. I heard the first employee recount the story of our entrance to the store. She said it brightened her day.
“Your daughter’s adorable!” she said, looking over at me.
“She is sooooo sweet!” the second employee added.
I smiled and thanked them.
Walking to my van, I realized Willow’s cheer is a gift of sorts. I imagine those workers see little of that during the busy holiday season.
On the way home, I wondered if Willow knew about the power she holds.
“Willow, do you know you make people happy when you say “hi” to them? You make mommy happy. Your smile brings joy!”
Of course, Willow said nothing. She just looked at me and smiled…..