The Tale of Us Against the Monster: Becoming Giraffes

My husband and I are visiting his family in Ottawa, and staying with his sister and her husband. Also visiting are her son, daughter-in-law, their two little girls, and their two dogs. My husband’s sister has a dog also. And we brought ours along for the trip. The front door has become revolving with other family members going in and out constantly. The kitchen is fragrant with on-going cooking and baking. Kids running around. Toys strewn across the family room floor. Either hockey or cartoons on the television. Dogs barking. People grazing the fruit, cookies, muffins, etc on the counters. Wine flowing like water. Lots of laughter and conversation. It’s a loud, busy family circus. I come from a family background that is hilariously similar, so it’s like home. To me, this is what family living is, and being with a husband who can closely relate, he and I have a noisy, busy life also when family comes to visit us. We are humans at play, in our own little gaggle, in our own ample den.

This morning, I had a few moments to interact with my husband’s three year old grand-niece. Such a bright and lively child, we were admiring the way her tiara sparkled in the sunshine. I asked her if she was looking forward to school, and she replied enthusiastically that she was indeed. So then I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wasn’t certain, so we entered into a short but in-depth dialectic about her choice of future careers. I asked her if she wanted to fly to outer space and walk on the moon, but she wrinkled her nose at this. How about a teacher like mommy and daddy? But that wasn’t it either. Okay…maybe a doctor that looks after sick puppies? She hesitated, but then decided she didn’t want to look after dogs. I asked her what her favorite animal was. “Giraffe,” she replied. Well, how about a doctor who looks after giraffes? Her response was, “No. I want to BE a giraffe.”

For those of you who may not know the essential attributes of giraffes, I am given to understand that they are tall, they are orange, and they play. I have this information on great authority, related to me by a small person who sees life on its most uncomplicated, truthful terms. In her innocent opinion, an opinion neither tainted nor scarred by this world, being a giraffe is where it’s at. I have to admit that I entirely agree with her. In fact, I discussed this further with my husband, and we’ve decided that we’d like to be giraffes too.

Right now, she’s going to and fro in her tiara, dress up clothes, wearing her grandmother’s fancy dress shoes, and rocking a pair of bedazzled pink sunglasses—seeing her world through them…through rose colored glasses. My husband watches her consuming the space where she plays, and his eyes sparkle with amusement. He watches her and looks at me with a grin as she changes or adds to her costume for the fiftieth time. She’s lovely, and warming, and free. When she is in the room, the Monster is no match for her…because she’s as big as a giraffe.

You see, this child still holds the sunny magic within. She is able to be a princess in one moment, and in the next moment a teacher, instructing her baby sister in the dynamics of crawling. How could she otherwise? Her world is filled with movement. She knows who she is at the most fundamental level—the intangible, indescribably complex human soul—yet without the superfluous impediment of words. She just knows. She alone holds the power, above any of the adults in her company, to open the wardrobe door, push through the fur coats, and enter the fantastical snowy wood. And that is why she can be a giraffe is she pleases…because she still believes. The Monster’s dark sorcery is overcome by this brilliant light.

We all need a little of her magic. Her vast capacity to believe. A portion of her light. It is time for her nap now, and so she goes to her unencumbered sleep, wrapped cozily in the light, protected by the noisy, busy love of her family. She is not disturbed by the chatter and laughter on the other side of the door. Likewise, my husband lays down for the afternoon, tells me I look pretty, and kisses me with his eyes. I can’t see the Monster today, and it’s on days like this, that I manage to reach out and catch a bit of the magic as it breezes past me…just for a moment…like the glitter of fairy dust in my palm. An inkling of belief. A stir of faith.

You, who are searching for magic and longing for the light, I can tell you that it is there, beyond the Monster’s reach. It’s not the magic spell kind. There are no incantations that can be learned and spoken against the Monster. But there is magic, transformative magic, that lingers in the light. And the light is where your love resides. It’s okay to believe that the Monster has fled for the day. It’s okay to take advantage of his absence, as temporary as it might be, because his return is a sad certainty, but the time to worry about that is later. For today, we return to the magical light. Today, we live in the clamor of love and family. Today, we wear tiaras. Today, we become giraffes.

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