“I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn’t about the… the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights. That’s what Cindy’s been trying to tell everyone… and me. I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family” – Lou Lou Who, How the Grinch stole Christmas (2000)
I forgot that Tuesday was September 11th. That it was the 17th anniversary of the attack that stole innocent lives in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. That there were memorial events occurring around the nation, and that the current President had tweeted something foolish about it. I forgot all of that for the day.
I also spent hours not thinking about Hurricane Florence’s path toward the East Coast of the United States. About the thousands of people packing up and traveling inland. About the FEMA respondents who had struggled so much in Puerto Rico, and now were bracing to try again. And about whatever foolish words our nation’s leader said about all of it (I don’t even know if he did, but I assume).
I forgot about all of those those needs that make my head and heart ache. All because of a little girl I’ve taken to calling Gracie Lou Who, in honor of the character in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
On Tuesday Gracie Lou Who rebelled against the idea of a nap. According to her parents this is typical behavior with babysitters. I’m choosing to take it as a compliment. I must simply be way too much fun to miss a moment of. Rather than drift off into morning and afternoon naps, Gracie held on with just a 7 minute micro-nap in the morning, and a 20 minute snooze in the afternoon (primarily on my lap). For the rest of our six hours together, Gracie was bright eyed and full of who-needs-a-nap energy.
The greatest joy of my day was pushing her in the swing, and having a few melodious giggles come my way. And the greatest sorrow was when she cried in the afternoon; exhaustion had come over her but she could not get comfortable, and I could not get us both into the stroller and out the door quickly enough (I almost ditched my shoes to end those tears).
It was not until the next day that I realized that an entire historical day had passed by. I’d shared a Facebook memory in the morning, but otherwise it was a day defined by the needs of a little one.
And when the world is so big and so broken, that seems like a perfect day. As Victor Hugo wrote in Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
I cannot restore the lives lost on 9/11. I cannot stand between the ocean and homes in North or South Carolina. I cannot walk into the White House to demand change.
What I can do is love Gracie Lou Who. I can keep her as safe as I can, as happy as I can, and as free from tears as I can. She may not be connected to me by blood, but she is family.
Who is your family? How can you show them love today? How can you see the face of God in someone else today?