My preschooler nephew provided an unexpected reminder on Thanksgiving of how to make love last. After dinner, he helped decorate the Christmas tree, then announced we should all gather around it to sing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
He grabbed me and said, "Aunt Patty, let's get the books!" I was surprised anyone keeps a set of Christmas carol song books in their home, but I followed him. He began pulling not song books but finance texts off the shelf and handing them to me, one for each of the Thanksgiving guests, the rest of whom ranged in age from 39 to 82.
It took me a moment to realize that, seen through the eyes of a non-reader, the subject of the books was irrelevant to the holiday experience. Carolers hold books open while they sing, and we could, too. If I knew the books held something other than the words to songs we all knew, my knowledge was irrelevant. Sharing it right now would be mean.
Everyone else caught on quickly and opened a book while my brother-in-law captured all of us on video, singing around the Christmas tree, looking just like his son expected we ought to look. And you know what? It was a lot more fun with the props, once we turned off our own stories about what qualifies as a song book or how you ought to use one.
Sometimes we forget that all of us see the world through our own abilities and mental images. When asked to participate in any meaningful activity, we would do well to try to see what we're asked to do through the eyes of the person asking, and turn off our knee-jerk criticisms to focus on what's truly important.
Have you ever caught yourself just before sharing irrelevant information that might ruin an important moment with your spouse or child? I would love to hear your story.