On Christmas Eve I had a wonderful conversation with my 7-year-old grandson, Noah. The day before he had told my husband that he really didn’t like living in the small town where he’s growing up in western North Carolina. “It’s boring and you see the same old things every day,” he claimed. So I asked him where he would like to live and he told me he’d love to live in a city like Washington, DC or Atlanta, which happen to be the biggest cities he’s ever visited.
He went on to tell me that when he grew up, he and his best friend Sam, would move to Atlanta and be housemates. When I asked him how they would make money to pay for rent and food, he told me they’d sell apples and bananas. He also said he wouldn’t be seeing much of me because we live too far away and he wouldn’t even see his mom that much after he moved. Then he exclaimed that besides his 6 silver dollars and the allowance he’d been saving up, his parents would give them money. When I asked him if he thought his parents had plenty of money to do that, he exclaimed, “Oh, yes!” Then he raced off to play without another word.
Later, after our evening meal, and the kids were tucked into bed excitedly awaiting the arrival of Ole Saint Nick, we adults sat around and talked about the state of the world and education in particular. We suddenly realized all at the same time, that in 6 short years, Zoe, aged 10 and in 5th grade, would be going off to college! And Noah would follow 3 years later.
On Christmas day after all of the gifts were opened and a delicious dinner of honey-glazed ham and Perogis was shared, we spent a bit of time outside as snow fell covering the countryside like a soft quilt. Zoe built a snowman, made angels in the snow. Noah didn’t want to go out at first saying, “I don’t like to play in the snow.” He did however give in, tossing snowballs at his granddad and Deena as they shoveled the driveway, using the shovelings to construct a small mountain in the flat front yard. From this pinnacle, Zoe slid over and over again, each time gaining a bit more distance.
Afterwards, cuddling together on the couch and floor we sleepily watched the movie Elf, about a human baby who finds himself at the North Pole, having crawled into Santa’s bag of gifts when Santa was making a delivery at an orphanage. The child grows up to be an elf working in Santa’s workshop. Because of his size and his inability to do things the way elves do them, he goes off to New York City to find his father. He brings holiday spirit to the big city, his father is transformed from an uncaring workaholic into the best dad ever and everyone lives happily ever after. It’ a funny, silly little film starring Will Ferrell, and is perfect for a quiet, snowy Christmas afternoon.
But the film and perfectness of this Christmas day left me wondering if we are all living in a snow-globe fantasy, imagining how perfect our lives will be in the future, that there will be plenty of food and money for all, that everyone will have a college education and that there will be peace on earth forever.