Thursday, December 31, 2015

Full of Beans

Last night at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Jukie made some new friends while Andy and I ordered our family's dinner. It was one of those times when I thought Andy had Jukie, and he thought I had him. It turns out that Jukie had himself, and that he was making an executive decision to expedite his eating. 

We found him sitting at a table with another family we had never met. He was smiling broadly, stuffing himself full of their beans and chips. Perhaps I should have apologized even before laughing, but the warm reception from his new friends let me know that Jukie had just made their evening. Jukie has a way of making people's day. 

Our eventual apologies were met with hugs and more laughter. This family clearly enjoyed Jukie's company and repeatedly told us that "he is a blessing." After we returned to our table, the mom appeared at my side with a plate full of sliced oranges. In their short exchange, she had quickly determined Jukie's delight in such an offering. What fast friends, I thought — she already knows the way to Jukie's heart. Andy ran out to our car and grabbed a copy of "Where's Jukie?" for this family who had just lived through an example of our book’s title. 

I'm struck by the way in which Jukie brilliantly busts through social norms and expectations and brings out the best in nearly everyone he encounters. We'd never have met this sweet family had Jukie not cozied up to their warm welcome and delicious food. And I'd love to hear the retelling of this story from the other side.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Wonder


In the days leading up to Christmas, Truman locked himself in his bedroom for hours, warning us not to enter, lest we spoil the holiday surprises he was creating for us. Although I wanted to sneak a peak, I stayed out of his space and only glimpsed piles of wrapping paper and ribbon while walking past his door. He was clearly putting a whole lot of heart and soul into his creations. 

On Christmas morning, Truman could hardly get ahold of himself — he couldn't wait to reveal and distribute his gifts. We all squealed with laughter as he passed out portraits he had drawn of each family member. How funny they looked with his rudimentary skills, like inadvertent caricatures, yet he still nailed each of us. He also made us "Human Trading Cards" with our vital stats. On his sister's, he labeled her skills: "Writing, drawing, and being loved."

And my favorite. He composed a poster board-sized card which made me cry and bust out laughing all at once. He is such a sweet soul, a deep thinker, and so crazy-funny. 

 "Dear Family, You are the biggest part of my life. You encourage me to write great stories. You help me do the right thing. You guide me through the path of life until the path of life can guide me. You are the greatest, funniest and most exciting people in my life. You tell me I will do great things in my life. I am writing this with a pen I got last year for Christmas, so please accept this gift for Christmas.

Dear Jukie, You can't read, so someone will have to read this to you. You are the best brother ever. The fact that you are different can be a good thing. You can't talk, so you can't say anything bad to me. You can't understand some things, so you don't know that George W. Bush was once president. 

Dear Daddy, You are the kind of guy who notices things. You share my interest in history and in reading. You said you did not want any stuff for Christmas, but I got and made you some cool stuff anyway. You are the smartest person in the family, even more than me. Merry Christmas! 

Dear Mommy, If I need someone to talk to, you are a good person. You know what the family needs, and what it doesn't need. I'm glad you are my mom, and I am glad you take care of the family.

Dear Boonie, I am glad I got to write my Fairfield report on you. Just imagine if my report were on New York. I would not be surprised if you ended up illustrating a famous book one day. I really hope you like this card." 

On the inside of the card, he drew a blueprint of our dream home, which includes both a museum and a research room, as well as a sleepover room and a playroom, a movie theater, a library, an indoor playground, an East Wing, and seven bathrooms. 

Truman helps me recognize every day that we're living in a sweet, golden stage of his childhood years. I love 10. And I'm soaking up every moment, every hug and every kiss. I love his wisdom, his wit, and his amazing sensitivity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Anticipating Santa

Truman and I get into Christmas in a big way. We always put up the outside lights the day after Thanksgiving; I climb the ladder while Truman detangles the lights from below. "That looks great, Mommy! I like how high up you're getting them!" he says. We stand back together, Clark Griswold style, and then turn on the lights. They're not so impressive really, but we still oooh and ahhh over them. 

Having the lights up makes Christmastime feel official. We can begin working our way together through favorite Christmas movies. We can fill the house with Christmas carols and the scents of pine and pumpkin spice. And we can start making handmade cards for our members of the family who are scattered across the country. 

When we come inside to decorate the tree, Geneva and Jukie each put an ornament or two on the tree, but mostly they watch Truman and me handle the decorating. This year, Truman found a weird, fuzzy, oval-shaped Santa face in with the holiday stuff and hung it on the wall. "That was a gag gift, I tell him – a festive toilet seat cover." He doesn't care. We left it on the wall, where now it's a perfect complement to the tree and the stockings hung from the fireplace. 

I came down the stairs this morning to find that Truman had written Santa a letter. I love that my boy is a believer. "Dear Santa," he begins, "I'm sorry I didn't send this to you. But there was so much going on that I forgot. I have been good, and so has everyone in my family. I made a big wishlist online, and I will read ten things from it." He goes on to list the highlights from his list, which range from biographies of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, to a fart blaster megaphone. (Shhh! Uncle Paul gave him the fart blaster. Of course.)

Long after the Christmas presents have been forgotten, Truman and his siblings will remember their enthusiasm for preparing the house for Santa and other December visitors, and the time we spend together as a family during every winter break.