It’s Birthday Month at Chez Rochat. And that usually means something special ahead.
First, a point of clarification. We don’t actually celebrate the entire month. That tends to be September, the golden month that seems to have kick-started half of my wife’s family, including Heather, her sister, her late grandfather, one of our nieces and possibly her fairy godmother for all I know. (If anyone’s seen that fairy, by the way, would you mind having her give us a call? I’m pretty sure she’s holding our lottery tickets.)
No, Birthday Month belongs to Missy, the developmentally disabled aunt we care for who’s been the star of many a column here. She’s an October lady, but the date we celebrate tends to jump all over the map. Still, she knows that when we hit this time of year, special things happen.
There’s been the Year of the Pink Bowling Ball, which Missy unwrapped and joyously lifted to the sunlight, both of them glowing like the climax of a fantasy novel.
There was the Bieber Birthday, when Missy’s temporary obsession with a certain Canadian pop star was rewarded with a cardboard stand-up at the party.
And of course, there was the Day of the Dancing, when a certain milestone birthday (never mind which one) turned into a musical marathon. Missy spent 98% of it on the dance floor, while the rest of us just tried to keep up with her.
Some years have been quiet, others have received NASA-level planning. But there’s always something to remember.
This year, it might just be the Lite Brite.
For those who haven’t met that old classic, Lite Brite is a children’s light board with colored pegs for creating pictures and designs. Missy got a set this year from her brother Jeff and his wife Meg, who know her far too well.
You see, as I mentioned a couple of columns ago, Missy likes temporary art. And few things are more temporary than a Lite Brite paper template. You fit the paper onto the screen. You punch each peg into its spot on the paper, like “B” for blue. And once you punch through, that spot is gone. The result is a beautiful design and a thoroughly perforated former set of instructions.
From all this, you get two basic results.
First, you learn to appreciate each point of light as you create it. You might not be able to do it the same way twice.
Second, unless you’re really good about stocking up on refills, you’re eventually going to have make your own designs.
Simple lessons. But lasting ones. Especially these days.
If we’ve learned anything in these last couple of years, it’s that change can come quickly. Old ways of doing things get transformed, old assumptions overturned. It’s been a time of uncertainty as we look to see what comes next, and that’s never a comfortable place to be.
In times like these, we become aware of how fragile our moments are. It becomes more important than ever to see them, notice them, appreciate them while they’re there.
And if we want to perpetuate them, we’re going to have to find the patterns ourselves. Working point by point, not always sure if the image we’re making will be beauty or chaos.
But each step is another point of light in the darkness. Hopeful in itself, helpful in what it may become. And that’s a gift to cherish.
Maybe even one as marvelous as a pink bowling ball.