Recently my home was overcome with decorations of all sorts that transformed our living room from a modest home in central California to a little piece of Neverland complete with Mermaid Lagoon, Lost Boys Tree house and Pirates Cove.
My wife is a very imaginative decorator when it comes to our children. Months in advance she is struck with an idea and thinks and plans and researches ways to convert our home into the landscape of whatever theme she has come up with. We have had mermaid parties that have seen our home turned into an undersea paradise. We have had a Where the Wild Things Are party that transformed our house into a forest. Each party leaves a little piece of itself behind. A Wild Thing on a cupboard or the shadow of eternal youth on the wall. Each party becomes a piece of our everyday life.
What I wonder about is how our children perceive this. My wife is always a little disappointed by how things turn out. She can't quite get the vision in her head out into reality. Me, I see paper and plastic arranged far more artfully than I could ever manage. My children... I wonder most about what they see. Ten, fifteen or twenty years from know what are they going to remember? Time changes things. Do my children see Neverland in our home? Is the blue plastic tablecloth a blue plastic table cloth or do their young imaginations see a roaring waterfall tumbling into a serene lagoon where mermaids dare to drown Tiger Lily?
When I was a boy we were visiting family in eastern Idaho. At the home of my Great Aunt and Uncle I walked somewhat timidly. My Great Uncle was a tall thin man with a serious face. I was terrified of him. In my childish mind he was a giant waiting around every corner. I imagined him bellowing out at the children in his house. This never occurred. Years later I have seen a very different Uncle. A man with a gentle personality and softness around his eyes. Time changes what we see as children.
Time makes the monsters under our bed into stray socks and a lost toys. Time turns the fiercest giants gentle. Sadly, time can also turn magical landscapes into plain paper and dollar store table cloths. The castle in the woods into broken unwanted furniture and warped plywood.
What does it take to hold that childhood wonder and see the world as a miracle?