Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Imagination: I'm Grateful.

I had a heartfelt conversation with my friend Julia at another friend's Thanksgiving dinner party last weekend. Julia is 11 years old, and her mom and I have been pals for years.

We walked up and down the street after dinner, just the two of us, talking about life. I was amazed at how relatable and easy to talk to she is. But then again, I'm accustomed to being enchanted by the imagination and wisdom of children. Before our walk, we jumped rope, hula-hooped (well, she hula-hooped; I just attempted it) and basically ran around the house being silly together.

The quality time with Julia came right on schedule. I've been thinking a lot about what I should be grateful for, versus what I am grateful for. Am I grateful for all the days I spent lounging underneath oak trees and daydreaming as a kid? Or the elaborate games that my friends and little sister and I invented on Saturdays? Not often enough, until something happens to make me think twice.

For example, I went to the mall tonight after my usual tutoring session was canceled. I was feeling gloomy while walking around the mall, fretting about how I would afford all the gifts I want to buy for people; fretting about a friend of mine who's struggling with her health; fretting about life in general. Then I decided that instead of just sulking back to my car, I would try to perk myself up.

My perk came in the form of a conversation with the man dressed as Santa Claus in the center of the mall. It looked as though Santa was winding down for the afternoon (he works so much harder these days, what with everyone's holiday fever starting at Halloween) so I ducked the velvet green rope and asked him how things were going.

"Are the kids asking for iPads and iPhones?" I asked.

He nodded. "Yes. I tell them all they have to wait until they're older." Then he sighed, and I knew he wished kids still asked for simple toys made out of wood. He was an older Santa, with a legitimate beard.  He talked like he's been playing the role for years. I could tell he understands the importance of childhood and tries his best to pass it on.

A minute later, he was escorted by some of the elves off to his break, and he turned around and gave me a friendly wave. "I'll be back, and we can talk some more," he said.

My own childhood wasn't perfect, but I'm glad it was filled with imagination.

And I have people like Julia to thank for reminding me.

Me with Julia on her first day of first grade. We go way back. 

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