Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Doing it all wrong

It was important to tell my kids before telling you:

A birthday card from my daughter,
cleverly repurposing my own art.
My favorite part of the Disney®™ movie Mulan comes when Fa Mulan returns home, having saved China from Hun attack, and brings her ailing father precious symbols of the rescued dynasty.

Despite her heroics, Fa Mulan had dishonored her father by going to war in his stead, disguised as a man, and has come to pay tribute even though she knows it will not blot the dishonor.

Mulan, kneeling before Fa Zhou in the cherry orchard, presents the gifts.

Fa Zhou, amazed and grateful for Mulan's return, casts the gift sword and medallion aside and kneels to embrace his daughter.

"The greatest gift and honor," he says, "is having you for daughter."

My son had made this — sophisticatedly na├»ve.
Gets me every time — as it gets just about every parent who watches that quiet moment. It was very difficult to say this to my own daughter, and I teared up texting it to my son. I'm tearing up now.

Damn you, Disney!™®

What I inferred from that movie moment — what I tried to convey to my kids — is how proud I am of them, not for what they have accomplished, which amazes me on its own, but for their being and space in this world, for their adventure in which I have gotten to play a part. I will always be proud of them.

For Father's and Mother's Day, the children should get the gifts — for having made fatherhood and motherhood possible, for bringing forth the harrowing, hilarious, poignant, promising, marathon sprint that is trying to be a parent.

The guest should play host on these days.

The gift to me is them.

I do birthdays wrong too.

Mostly I do a feint and parry about birthdays, not being a big fan. Why? It's complicated and silly.

I'd just as soon let the day pass like any other.

But lately I've noticed what some others do, others with more generous hearts, who host their birthdays, who celebrate the day for others' sake, not their own. Maybe I've noticed because I'm the opposite by nature.

The people who come to celebrate these birthdays become the focus. Sometimes someone else benefits, a charity, say, or someone for whom a celebration is long overdue.

I'm mulling this celebration sea change. Give me some time, but I'll turn these holidays around.


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