October 9th, 2009
Sadie brought with her new energy to all things holiday-related. Sometimes I feel like I need some energy in these areas. I started out strong in my adulthood, but as the waves of time continually crashed upon the shores of my life, I reached a point where my holiday-savviness had seen better days.
The most obvious victim of this decline has been my incredible wife. I mean, I’m not completely worthless. I do take her to dinner on our anniversary and the occasional play . . . although don’t get me started on the debacle of this year’s completely botched efforts to acquire tickets to one of Laura’s favorite broadway productions. For that matter, last year I went to incredible lengths to secure tickets to a special Valentine’s Day concert at the symphony some six months in advance. I had planned well and was locked in to a sure thing. I even “boasted” (or at least I was told by the guys at the office after the fact) that I was hitting a husband-homerun.
I surprised Laura a few days before the event with the tickets. She was so excited; I was king. We got dressed up all fancy and prepared to embark upon our night of romance . . . yeah, that was when I decided to look at the tickets I had purchased . . . the tickets for the show that had already happened the night before. I had missed the night somehow and my epic plans crumbled faster than my dignity as the guys at work still refer to my antics as one of the greatest “fails” of all time. Thanks guys.
But I used to be pretty good at this stuff. When Laura and I were dating, I pulled off the best first Valentine’s Day in modern history. We met up at her apartment where I sent her out to my car to retrieve her “present.” What she found was a intricately planned and romantically written puzzle of gifts. They began with little trinkets . . . but each gift had with it a little note with a contiguous, rhymed poem whose stanzas serenaded her with sweet nothings and then creatively led her to another gift stowed away in another area of the car. I watched from her window as Laura, shivering in her little black dress, gleefully glided from front seat to back seat to trunk and to all the compartments in between. I knew that I had landed myself in dating folklore.
Maybe that’s my problem these days . . . I’ve got nowhere to go but down. I’m still trying though. Laura tolerates my ineptitude with grace.
Sadie, however, isn’t yet aware of my issues. So when her first Valentine’s Day came around, I knew that I needed a win. The good part is that winning with Sadie is as easy as a little bite of my ice cream or a trip out to play in the driveway. So I wrangled up a little teddy bear and came home as a hit. My little darling seemed so excited at first, but then she succombed to the same kind of reaction that most of my recent gifting attempts have produced . . . she fell asleep.
I blame myself, really. I bought her an extremely fluffy little stuffed animal whose softness no doubt taunted her little eyelids into submission. All in all, it was an adorable moment that, of course, I captured for you to see.
I think that fatherhood, and marriage for that matter, both bring an intensity to the perspective of life because they demonstrate the wonder and challenge of the normal day. Years spent planning a one-day extravaganza known as the wedding often leads newlyweds into a somewhat anticlimactic (if they let it be) daily routine called marriage. The same is true of parenthood: the sheer number of daily moments far outweigh those moments that you expect to be the most memorable ones. The question is: do we savor the daily memories as much as the “big” events of life?
Now I’m not copping out on my husbandly and fatherly duties to remember and provide gifts and events for special occasions and holidays; I’m only stating that those moments shouldn’t be the only times that we recognize or celebrate life. Sometimes “special” happens when you’re not looking for it. When your wife says something funny while you’re watching Food Network. When your baby burps so loudly that you swear she sounds like a forty-seven year old retired lineman.
It’s easy to live our spiritual lives in a similar mindset . . . only looking for the “Valentine’s Day” moments of emotional elation or revelatory breakthrough. We can miss the “bigger picture” in a diligent search for “bigger moments.” Those moments are grand and necessary for growth, but the nuts and bolts of the wonder of walking the adventure of faith is just like any other walk . . . it happens one step at a time . . . day by day.
II Corinthians 4: 16 (NLT) reveals this truth: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” Every day is where the magic happens. Every day is where the discoveries are made. Every day is where we must grasp the wonder of our walk with God.
Don’t miss anniversaries and for the love of all things good and holy, buy your spouse and children presents for Valentine’s Day. However, know that no single day can sustain you; you must keep living and finding real life all the days after and in between.
Just ask Sadie: she’s snoozed through more than one intricately-planned, Daddy-driven, huge moment. The good stuff is often found in the daily stuff.