It's been a bit manic around here, since I've been putting in extra hours at work to ensure that I'm able to take the next two weeks off. So even though I've loads of blogging ideas swirling in my head, I've not much time to get them out.
Today, I'm stealing two ideas from two of my favourite bloggers. I'm taking the idea of the Thursday Three from the Rotten Correspondent and the theme is coming from Barbara, who subscribes to a theory I very much believe in. If you keep your eyes open, you will see things that can change your mood and improve your day.
I hate this time of year with a burning passion that only intensifies as I age. I hate the frantic pace of trying to finishing everything up for the holidays while all around me, the natural world is crawling to a halt. The dim drizzly days make me want to curl up in a ball and sleep until spring, but there's just too damn much to do. Recently, I saw three things that put a smile on my face and brightened my whole day. In all cases, I observed pure, unadulterated joy and you'd have to be even meaner than a grinch if you can see that sort of joy and walk away unaffected.
Three Observations of Joy
#1. The Visit with Santa. Irish store Santas are apparently way more generous than American store Santas. I was floored when Peter told me that the whole point of a visit to Santa here is that Santa gives you a festively wrapped present. It usually contains a cheap plastic toy, but you don't care about that when you're five years old. And all we got was a lousy Polaroid picture!
On Tuesday, I had a Christmas lunch in Ballincollig. Since I arrived early, I wandered through the shopping mall to kill some time. I saw a little girl, she must have been about 3 or 4, walking next to her mother. The girl had clearly just been to visit Santa, since she had a wrapped present. She was glowing with the joy of it. Her beaming smile made me notice her. It was the half-dazed smile of a girl who's just had something amazing and wonderful happen.
Then I saw the present in her hands. It was a thin rectangular box, maybe a board game. She held it with both hands and looked at it often, as though she couldn't quite believe she had it. I'm not a mind reader, but even I could see the thought bubble above the girl's head: "Best Day Ever!"
#2. The Car Wash. As part of the same trip to Ballincollig, I stopped on the way home to get diesel for the car. The prices were a whole cent cheaper than the petrol station by us, so I was already pleased. As I filled up the tank, I noticed the car in the car wash. I've always been disappointed here that Irish car washes are all out in the open.
Going to the car wash, through the dark tunnel, and then getting 'eaten by the car wash monster' as the big slappy roller washed the car was always one of my favourite activities. Even as a grown-up, I couldn't help but giggle and squeal.
So it was a great joy for me to watch another little girl, maybe 2 or 3 years old, giggle and squeal as the car wash monster ate her car. She started off huddled close to her mother, perhaps a little frightened, but was soon clapping her chubby hands in delight. It nearly made me want to get the car washed.
#3. The Running Irish Wolfhound. Callie running could be a comedy sketch. At the start, she's awkward and gangly, all long legs not quite acting in concert. Then she gets up to speed and finds her rhythm. Her long legs fall into the steady pace of a gallop. Her body lengthens and contracts as she covers ground at a rate that seemed unattainable when she got started.
What elevates her running from a comedy sketch to a day brightener is the absolute joy on her face. Her ears are flat back from the wind and her tongue is hanging out the side of her mouth, but you can't miss the grin on her face and the delight in her brown eyes.