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Birthday Joy

Spring 2015 100

It’s a pretty tableau. My son sits among strewn tissue and wrapping paper, claiming his prize, his birthday presents. I watch as my husband places his gifts into outstretched arms, see my son eagerly tear apart the carefully taped paper I so lovingly adhered for him. He frees the toy from its constraints, and I sit back in my chair to take a picture and capture the moment for all eternity. I look through the lens and prepare to click.

Then I see him smile.

It sounds silly to devote a post to a child smiling at his birthday presents. But for more than a decade my son has approached his birthday, and almost everything typical people deem “fun,” as a solemn ritual, a task to be organized.

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Generally it is difficult to even get him to finish unwrapping his take- I’m usually going up against his OCD, his need to organize rather than unwrap.

But tonight is different. Tonight, he shows joy.

And as I watch him exuberantly rip off paper and dive into bags I allow myself a moment to revel in his glee, and put the camera to the side. I think about how grateful I am that he’s demonstrating his joy, because so often in situations I think will make him happy I’m left guessing, wondering if he’s truly enjoying himself.

Tonight I don’t have to guess.

He treats each gift with a mixture of awe and amazement, then wraps up his endeavor with his lyrical laugh, and bestows a huge hug and kiss on his mama.

He loved tonight. For once, I got to know that he adored a timeless ritual that most people take for granted their children will love.

And I join him in being happy.

For more on my family visit my blog at

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