December 5th, 2005

Christmas Angel

I took the kids Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon. They had been begging for days to do it and I kept putting it off because frankly, I dreaded it. Herding my gang of kids through stores and guiding them as they made dozens of little purchases? No. This would not be fun.

In an effort to minimalize my angst, I timed the outing to take place during Raphael’s naptime so that I could leave him with Dan. I knew I would need to be hands-free for what promised to be a very hands-on kind of outing. I had even dared dream that Gabrielle might stay home with her Papa and bit of Barney but no such luck.

You see, Dan was watching a game. And not just any game, mind you, a Steelers game. Heaven knows that the Pittsburg Steelers take precedence over Barney any day.

So it seemed that Gabrielle would come along shopping after all. At least my beloved was thoughtful enough to give me one of his “you’re my hero” looks as I ushered the gang out the door. Very helpful, that.

First stop was the local Country Store. The kids love this place because it is loaded with cool stuff. I loathe this place because it is loaded with cool stuff. Marbles, wind chimes, polished rocks, porcelain dishes, giant rubber frogs, bobble head moose dolls, wooden plaques featuring an assortment of almost-clever, sometimes-vulgar sayings all these and more are tantalizingly and conveniently displayed at 2 year old eye level. And hand level.

I took a deep breath and said a quick prayer as we entered the store. I was quite certain that the next 30 minutes of my life would firmly crush any inklings of holiday spirit I might have harbored deep inside. I had my game face on.

“Gabby, don’t touch!” I fairly shouted before she even stepped inside. “Just look.”

“Yes, Mama,” came her immediate reply.

What was that? Compliance? Well, that caught me off guard.

I eyed her cautiously as she surveyed the merchandise. In perfect obedience, her hands remained clasped in front of her as she leaned in close to examine a tiny dancing doll. Her bright eyes gleamed with delight. She reached out to touch, but then before I could stop her, she stopped herself. Her pudgy hand froze in mid air, she flashed me a look of contrition, and she returned it to her side.

Amazingly, she continued in this submissive manner through the dolls, the balls, the shiny rocks, and the figurines. Things were still a bit chaotic here and there as I helped the older kids manage their purchases, but Gabrielle remained peaceful and content just looking, looking, looking at every little thing.

By the time we reached the checkout counter, I had already declared the trip a victory. Not even the crabby, eye-rolling, old lady behind the register could douse my enthusiasm.

“You see this?” I wanted to shout to her as I scooped up my 2 year old super star. “This is one amazing kid!”

I cannot explain it. Perhaps her guardian angel subdued her with some kind of heavenly enchantment. Whatever the reason, I know this much: Instead of being squashed as I expected, my inklings of Christmas spirit were only bolstered yesterday afternoon. My darling Gabby was my very own Christmas miracle.

And today? Well, today she can get away with pretty darned near anything she pleases.

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