María walked into her room on Friday and stopped. She kept turning around, looking first at one part of her room and then another. There wasn’t the kind of gleeful astonishment and squeals of previous years. Instead, she was very quiet. I was biting my tongue, trying to open space for her to take the lead, getting a bit anxious that somehow, this had gone wrong. Finally she looked at me and in almost a whisper said, “this is beautiful. Mami, I don’t think Olaf was the one who did this. I think this was you. Did you do this for me?” I couldn’t lie. I told her I had and she came over and just stood and hugged me. Later in the evening she added, “I am not sure it’s ever been Santa either. I think it’s been you.” As we lay together on her bed at bedtime, she repeated over and over again, “I love how my room looks. Thank you, Mami.” And just like that, my girl and I had moved into a whole new place.
As much as I have loved the wonder of seeing Christmas through my woman-child’s eyes, there is no regret or nostalgia that we have crossed out of that time. There’s a kind of ordering of thought and experience that made it possible for María to take her room in and come up with a new way of understanding what she was looking at. I am beyond thankful for this kind of progress in her cognitive development. They say the brain keeps developing until you reach your late twenties and I get to see it live and in Technicolor with María.
There was a new magic in the past couple of days—the unimagined wonder of a young woman settling into a more companionable relationship with her mom. We worked together yesterday and today, preparing meals for ourselves and friends. We are both trying to be healthy about the food we eat and as a result, María was able to wear a dress that was too tight for her a couple of months ago. There was some makeup in María’s stocking. We had some company coming over for lunch and she asked me to help her with the make-up though she cautioned she didn’t want a whole lot of it on her face. When I finished, she asked me, “do I look pretty”.
“O my stars, María, you look stunningly beautiful and grown up”
Herself completely and also, a new creation.
May the rest of your Christmas season and the new year that lies ahead have such moments of wonder and joy.