Joy. Take us back to a moment this year when you experienced pure, unadulterated joy.
I am fortunate. I have had so many times this year when I have experienced this feeling of pure and unadulterated joy that I can’t even imagine choosing just one. As is typical, I am going to need to cheat.
At the very end of 2010 my husband and I wanted to do something special for our son’s birthday. He is a Christmas baby, born on the 22nd, and we have always tried hard to make his birthday completely separate from Christmas. My birthday is on the 2nd, and so I know the childhood pains of a birthday being shadowed by a huge holiday and gifts being “lumped” together into one. He was turning 10 and so it was A Big Deal for him. I especially wanted it to be a big deal birthday for my boy because I was so sickly pregnant with the new baby. This would be the last birthday we celebrated with just the three of us. And so far, so much of our little family’s attention had been on me.
I had decided. We were going to celebrate by surprising him with a trip to Disneyland. He had yet to see Disneyland in it’s holiday splendor; it must be done. We would somehow surprise him by taking him there and have lunch at the Blue Bayou — something he has always wanted to do.
My son is probably the most gullible kid on the planet. We drove to Las Vegas and spent a couple days there. We “suddenly” decided we would drive to California and visit my best girlfriend — who was in on the trick. My boy thought that this was perfectly reasonable. Of course we would do such a thing and this is just what we did.
I was miserable. I spent the whole car ride flat on my back and hugging my body pillow. I was so sick. But I wanted this. I wanted my boy to experience this birthday. We would spend approximately a day and a half at Disneyland but it was worth it. And it was, because we pumped him full of DVDs — one right after another — that he didn’t even realize where we were until we drove into the parking garage. I remember looking back at him, hugging my pillow, and saying, “Happy Birthday, Monkey Beans!”
He just about peed his pants.
It was cold. It was drizzly and rainy. My husband wouldn’t let me bring the camera because he didn’t want it get damaged in the rain. But it didn’t matter. Seeing my son’s face as we walked in the gates when he saw the giant Christmas tree was enough. I cried. Everything was perfect. He was so caught up in the day that he had forgotten his name was on his birthday pin and couldn’t understand why everyone new his name when they wished him Happy Birthday. (He also loved how we got in the front of the line since I was in a wheelchair.)
I should have been miserable. I was cold. I was so sick. I was getting a migraine. I was constantly wet from the rain. And if you’ve ever sat in a rented wheelchair then you know how your rear end begins to hurt. The whole experience should have been a recipe for icky. But it was the happiest experience I could imagine. My boy couldn’t stop smiling. It was the best birthday he had ever had he continues to say. Aside from the day he was born, I would have to agree.