As a military family, they are on the move quite often - to my recollection they've been in Dallas, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and D.C. Those postings also included overseas duty in Iraq for him, while my niece held down the homefront. As he completes his officer training over the next 12 weeks, he'll be sorting out where his next posting will take him, and also his family. We all believe it will be farther than the 5 hour drive from us it is now...and we will miss that ability to drive out for a quick weekend visit.
Because my niece is only 9 years younger than I am, and her husband is only 4 years younger, I feel more like a big sister than an Aunt. Although at times I admit I still marvel that J (aka A's mom) has grown to such an incredibly impressive woman, wife, and mother when she is forever in my mind the sweet little girl in the ballet outfit. But now, as a fully grown 40+ year old, I'm feeling aunt-like to her little boys - and such darling Great Nephews we have too.
Little Man A is just at the age where Christmas is truly exciting. As you hand him a box, he exclaims, "What IS it???" in THE most adorable way. He is truly curious and thrilled to see a pretty wrapped package in his hands. Even when he understands the gift may be for his baby brother, he still gets very excited and gives little outbursts as he tears off the paper - the first excitement is finding the box - WOW!! he says, even if it doesn't show anything of the gift inside. Then he opens the box and finds tissue - "Oooh" he says, again still moments away from the gift...then the toy or book or even clothing is revealed and the crowd goes wild. Even when he doesn't know exactly what it is - he loves it because it was part of the gift process.
When do we lose that ability? That ability to be unabashedly excited over the receiving of a loving gift? There is nothing quite like seeing a little one experience Christmas or a Birthday, or even the 4th of July fireworks display is there? Once we become grown-up, beginning - most likely - with the very costly teenage cool years, we surrender that beautiful raw emotion.
Because of that, the joy we have in watching kids in their excitement is that much more magical. It is likely our only chance to re-capture that simple and all-encompassing glee. To remember what it was like to be so damned excited and happy that we couldn't stay still. We had to run around in circles screaming like banshees, or hop up and down until we felt sick, or turn somersaults in the middle of the living room, or even just grin from ear to ear until our cheeks felt they would burst.
Thank you Little Man A and Baby Brother Z, and thank you A's Mom and Dad, and to my sister Jude and her Rob, for a wonderful start to the New Year, filled with glee, laughter, and the simple pleasures of little boys. And for always reminding US that home and family is never far away.