I’m on the internet. A lot. So I see a multitude of graphics, memes, links, and videos every single day. Some of them make me laugh, some of them make me think, others I barely pay attention to as I scroll through my feed. But I saw one yesterday that made me pause–amidst a flurry of Christmas tree photos and status updates and holiday recipes, Sandra Bullock’s face popped into my life.
As much as I like her, though, it wasn’t about the striking photograph, but the words that were quoted in the description. I read them a few times before letting the truth of them sink in.
Naturally, when I went back to find the meme to share with you here, I couldn’t find it. (Funny how poignant things have a habit of disappearing into the ether of the internet, while silly or absurd or inappropriate things seem to go viral and stay that way much past their expiration dates.) Anyway, I recreated the meme for you, so I could share it in today’s post.
This statement has been true for me, especially in the last few months. I spend my day actively searching for those moments to savor. Each day, if it’s a good one, gives me a handful–a passing snuggle with a fluffy cat, a giggling fit with a girlfriend, a peaceful second of solitude, a lingering hug from my husband. While they may be interspersed with moments of grief, anger, resentment, and worry, those nuggets of happy settle into my soul and help to soothe the ragged edges that are there.
I had one such moment yesterday evening. I’d headed out to brave the crowds to do a little holiday shopping. My trip took me to my favorite craft store, which was unusually busy. I wandered the aisles, making my way to the back corner of the store. I dodged a family of five and scooted into the aisle I needed, brushing past a small display of tiny American flags on the way in. Finally, I’d found what I’d come for. I squatted down in the deserted aisle and started perusing the wares, reading the labels so I knew I’d buy exactly what I needed.
In that moment, I was annoyed with the crowd. I was tired from an all-day shopping expedition. My feet hurt, my head hurt, and my Christmas spirit was waning.
From the end of the aisle I heard a sharp intake of breath, followed by the sound of a young child giggling. “Mom, look!” he cried. I glanced over and caught a glimpse of shaggy brown hair and a shoelace coming untied from a colorful sneaker. He seemed to be excited over the flags hanging from the end cap. I smiled and went back to my shopping.
Over the strains of the Christmas music, I heard more laughter, and the rattling sound of plastic. And then, in a 7-year-old’s voice, I heard the familiar tune of the Star Spangled Banner.
I looked up just in time to see the little boy dash by the end of the aisle. He had several flags in each hand, and was singing our national anthem at the top of his lungs. No reservations, no embarrassment, no self-consciousness.
“Ohhhhhh saaaay caaaaan yoooou SEEEEEEE?” he sang, cracking on the high note. “Byyyy the daaaaawn’s eaaarrrrrly liiiiiiiiight….”
I heard the sound of his sneakers as he dashed up the main aisle, in search of his family. “What so PROOOOOOUDLYYY we heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeld….at the twilight’s last steaming…..”
At this point, the giggles completely took me over. I lost my balance and sat down, hard, on the linoleum floor. The Little Patriot dashed down the aisle adjacent to mine, his sneakers slapping on the floor. I imagined the flags whipping in the wind created by his running. He turned the corner and dashed by my aisle again.
“WHO’s broad striiiipes and bright STAAAAAAAAAARS….throuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh the…” Uhoh. “throoooouuuuugh the….”
“Perilous.” Mom’s voice came from several aisles over. I covered my mouth so they wouldn’t hear me laugh.
“Throooougggggh thhhheeee perilous fight, Or the RAAAAAMMMMMMMMparts we waaaatched…at the TWILIGHTS LAST STREAMING.”
“Were so gallantly streaming,” Mom offered, shouting over the din of Frank Sinatra’s White Christmas.
The sneakers stopped squeaking, and I heard his small voice say, “Oh yeah. Right.”
He must have heard me laugh at that point, because his singing became much more subdued. Reverent, even. He finished the last the song in a quiet falsetto, until…
“OVER THE LAAAAAAND OF THE FREEEEEEE! And the HOOOOME of theeee BRAAAAVE.”
I heard him put the flags back in their Styrofoam display, and the squeaking of his sneakers as he skipped off to rejoin his family.
My sides aches from my (not so) silent laughter. I gathered up my purse and my basket, grabbed the items I needed, and headed for the checkout. I never actually saw The Little Patriot’s face, or ran into him again. But that little kid made my day, with his impromptu concert.
It’s unexpected moments like this one that are worth savoring.