Friday, January 02, 2004

A Christmas Memory

We'd heard that the town of Oregon (IL) is a dreadful place, on par with Syracuse in its aura of resignation. Yet we found ourselves charmed, perhaps because the antiquated "downtown" matched some nostalgic notion of what a little town at Christmas should be. Still, I'll take my sister-in-law's word for it. She wants out. But apartments in Chicago are costly. They'll miss their back yard. And what to do with their kids?

That's a question that has stopped me in the past. What to do about kids, period? This thought most often comes to me when I'm engrossed in reading, one arm tucked around whatever cat has nestled at my side. I gaze at my furry companion appreciatively and praise it for not being a baby.

We decided to take our nephews on a walk around Oregon. But we made it only as far as the high school before conceding that it was too damn cold for walking. The five-year-old’s cheeks were on fire. The eighteen-month-old did not have enough blankets on his stroller. We returned to the yard, where my brother-in-law unceremoniously tipped the stroller to set the baby free.

But one of us hadn't minded the chill. Joshua had fallen asleep, and was startled to find himself on his feet. He staggered like a tiny inebriate, then toppled sideways into the damp mulch of a winter flowerbed. Instinctively, I shot out my hand, which he grasped without complaint.

My nephew and I moved carefully around the house, the better to watch his aunt and uncle play street soccer with a desiccated, flat squirrel. Joshua babbled contentedly, pointed skyward at the “woof-woofs” (live squirrels), then absentmindedly gripped my thumb again.

Something about that tiny hand returning so trustingly to mine. Something inside absolutely melts. This kid is so darling and unspoiled I could cry. Even Adam is moved.

Lucky for us, the five-year-old was bratty at Christmas. We exchanged relieved glances and declared ourselves (temporarily) cured. Cats never behave like that.


At 10:04 PM, Anonymous allysa said...

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