I work in a building that used to be a dept store. Every year since the 1930s they put up animated scenes of elves, children and animals for all to see in the store windows. I remember coming down in 4th grade to see the windows on a class field trip. My dad volunteered to be a chaperon. My teacher was shocked my dad volunteered, this was back before the days of involved fathers being a common occurrence. She was very glad to have him around to help with the boys in the bathroom and I was so proud to hold his hand through the crowded store. I still to this day remember riding the escalator up holding his hand.
Every year we would come down to see the windows, visit Santa and get a smiley face cookie. It was a fun outing we looked forward to for weeks.
The dept store is gone and a new office building/theater is in its place. I walk through there everyday to go to work. Every year right before Thanksgiving they start putting the windows up on display. They have been saved, restored and lovingly placed right back where they were years ago.
Years ago when they first started putting them in, I would avoid them like the plague. I would walk outside, not look at them, avoided at all cost. I never stopped to look, ponder them or look at how wonderful they were to be back in their rightful place. It was too hard. Too much of a reminder of what I wanted and was not meant to be yet. If there were families there looking and gazing at the animals playing in the forest or commenting on the kids in the candy shoppe, I lost it. Many tears were shed during that walk to the garage those past holiday years.
I wondered if I would ever have a child to bring to look at the windows. Many years I often felt that there never would be. The joy of the windows would never light up my child's face.
This year I wanted to take C to see the windows. I thought he was older and would enjoy them more. So we went this past weekend. A perk to working in the building is parking underneath on the weekends so we didn't have to get out in the yucky weather. We went right up to the windows in the elevator.
Unfortunately, I didn't realize there was a performance that morning so it was crowded and there were tons of people there. C was a little nervous at first and wanted me to hold him. We looked at all the windows and walked down to see Santa. C was still apprehensive so we just waved to him from afar.
As we sat down to enjoy the live music it all hit me. We were there with our child, our son. He was there walking, looking at the windows holding my hand. C also was griping and playing with my hands with his, while I am trying not to spill all the tears I am holding back. It didn't work.
The emotions still get me when I least expect it. I was excited to show C the windows as I know he loves animals and would be intrigued by the movements of them. He growled like the bear playing peek-a-boo in the tree. He stared at the kids playing and the dog wrapped up in lights. It was fun to point them out and show him the magic. But underneath it all, the feelings still exist. The memories are still there. The pain is still raw and while it is normally covered, the cover still comes off sometimes.
So now Rich can understand and know that his wife is not totally crazy for breaking down in public and is glad he took the pictures to mark the joy and the realization that we really do have a wonderful life.
I am actually looking forward to the holidays this year.