When my kids were little, we had a special dinner called “The Small Happiness.”
The children were encouraged to bring special friends. Mac and cheese or another kid-friendly meal was offered. We gathered round the kitchen table, and during the course of supper, each child was invited to share a Small Happiness that had happened to him or her that week. No BIG happiness, please! This was not the time to brag about something huge. Instead, we concentrated on the small happiness. The kind that brings a glow to your heart that outlives the seemingly insignificant incident that prompted it. (Your avocado seed finally sprouted! You were invited to join a game at recess! You got a B+ on your spelling test!)
We talked about the small, daily encouragements that fall into our lives, almost unnoticed, that make life sweet.
This Christmas season, I have a new Small Happiness to report. It’s my neighbor’s toddler grandson, Nolan!
Nolan is nearly two. He tears around her apartment like a tiny comet, leaving havoc and fairy dust in his wake. He is joy unbounded. A quintessential toddler!
Everything excites him. Everything is an occasion for joy and wonder. Or sometimes howls of frustration or exhaustion. Toddlers experience everything to the max. It’s who and what they are at this time in their lives.
On Nolan’s last visit, he was introduced to the characters in his grandma’s beautiful old Christmas creche. He was fascinated by the animals, especially the camel. He took the Baby Jesus for a road trip round the apartment in his red Tinker Toy convertible. Noticing his “diaper,” he took him to the bathroom and introduced him to the potty in case he needed to pee. (POTTY PARTY?)
Since that visit, Diane has set up her Christmas tree. She can’t wait for tonight. What will he make of it when he comes to see her?
He’ll put up soft ornaments around the lower branches of the tree. We’ll sing Frosty the Snowman. He’ll dance to the music of the ya-ya. (My ukulele. I’ll bring it over for the big event.) He’ll set up and tear down the creche he’ll help to decorate. We’ll eat mac and cheese…
At Christmas, if you’re blessed with a toddler, try to see the season through their eyes. They could care less about the stuff that worries us! The menu, the gifts, the social engagements. Every day is Christmas to them!
Toddlers are a Small Happiness. Merry Christmas, everyone! We were put on Earth to be a Happiness to those around us.