Thursday, December 22, 2011

Traditions and the Benefits of Leaving the Lens Behind

When our children were born my husband and I carried on some traditions that our (mostly my) parents had started with us as children. We carve pumpkins and bake pumpkin seeds and we seek eggs left by the Easter Bunny.

We also started several of our own traditions over the years.

Every New Year's Eve we have appetizers, have a countdown at around 6 o'clock and spray one another with silly string and pop poppers. We drink "champagne" from fancy stemmed plastic glasses. We dance. We put the kids to bed and wake them up minutes before midnight so they can watch the ball drop with us on TV.

Our Christmas tradition includes an evening ride through the city to marvel at the variety and abundance of light displays. We laugh at some weak attempts but concede that at least they tried. We laugh at the exuberance of other displays but concede that at least they were passionate. The kids are always pajama-clad for the trip. Most years we pop popcorn and sip water from reusable bottles. (Not so this year...there was a time crunch.) Our circuit includes some known hot-spots that are usually fancy displays yearly. It also includes a house that happens to include Santa himself. He hands out candy canes and asks the kids what they want for Christmas. (This year he snubbed Craig and I for candy canes, but he usually gave us parents one as well.)

This year was so fun with D. We heard hardly a peep from her while we toured some of the regular neighborhoods. She was taking it all in with wide-eyed wonder. Craig drove the van onto Santa's street and pulled off to the side. D erupted with cheers as she spotted Santa across the street. I had brought our camera on the ride, anticipating a photo op with Santa, but when we exited the van I made the decision to leave the camera behind. We were the third family standing on the sidewalk in front of Santa's temporary home. The kids happened to know another family there so they were distracted as they waited. Suddenly, it was their turn to see him. He asked M, then K, then D what each wanted for Christmas. D was literally awe-struck. She had a wide, dimpled smile and a wondrous expression. I'm convinced if I had brought the camera out I would have been too focused on taking photos to have really taken in D's expression.

Just another reminder that I need to live life on the other side of the lens sometimes.

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