Queen Teen has been depressed for months; 75% of the time, she frowns, sighs, complains and argues. She smiles only 25% of the time. Some of this is typical teen-aged angst, but some is due to the impact her disabilities have on her life. I've been so worried about her.
Last week, my husband pulled her Christmas village stuff from the attic while I cleared off the large, "plant window" (it usually holds two glass shelves packed with plants). I found new, temporary homes for all my plants, and then scrubbed the dirt and mold from the glass panes and shelves. Queen Teen watched, but didn't seem all that excited about setting up her village.
"You're taller now, so you can use both of the shelves," I said.
She stood beside the window and measured her height. "I can see the top shelf."
"Yep. And you have a lot more stuff for your village. You'll need the room."
Together we lay cotton batting down for snow and arranged the buildings. I inserted the lights into the buildings then opened the box of village people and handed them to Queen Teen one by one. She smiled when she looked at them and talked about how silly it is to "ride a bicycle in the snow," or "jump rope in the snow." It took about an hour to arrange everything, and then I hung the string of LED star lights above the village so it looks like the aurora borealis. Usually, Queen Teen breaks into a Christmas song once the village is set up, but this time, she just smiled and said, "Pretty."
Had she outgrown her village, too?
Over the next few days I noticed that Queen Teen spent more time looking at her little village people. She talked to herself about what they were doing and how fun playing in the snow must be. When I hung the wreath that we made last year on the door, she grinned and said, "That's pretty." Then the neighbors across the street set up their mega-Christmas lights display (they must use 500 strands of lights!) and that really made Queen Teen excited. Every night we peek through the front window to look at the neighbors sparkling lights and their illuminated snow men and deer.
Two nights ago, Queen Teen took my hand and led me to the village. "It's fun to play in the snow," she said, then threw a cotton batting snow ball at me. She giggled loudly and I laughed, then tossed the "snow ball" back at her. We chatted about what you can do in the snow, like build a snow man, ice skate, go sledding, make an angel, and even jump rope, but that idea made Queen Teen giggle more. Her eyes sparkled as she talked to me. There's my happy girl again.
Last night, Queen Teen sang "Santa Claus is coming to town" in the bathtub, the first Christmas song of the year, and my heart sang with her. It's been too long since she's sung so loudly and cheerfully. She now talks about presents and what she might like, as well as what she might buy for others. Her eyes twinkle when she thinks about Christmas.
I wish Christmas lasted all year.