Ode to Joy

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
November 10, 2010

The year our youngest daughter, Shelly, was four, she received an unusual Christmas present from “Santa.”

She was the perfect age for Christmas, able to understand the true meaning of the season, but still completely enchanted by the magic of it. Her innocent joyfulness was compelling and catching — a great gift to parents, reminding us of what Christmas should represent no matter how old we are.

The most highly prized gift Shelly received that Christmas Eve was a giant bubble-maker, a simple device of plastic and cloth the inventor promised would create huge billowing bubbles, large enough to swallow a wide-eyed four-year-old. Both Shelly and I were excited about trying it out, but it was after dark so we’d have to wait until the next day.

Later that night I read the instruction booklet while Shelly played with some of her other new toys. The inventor of the bubble-maker had tried all types of soaps for formulating bubbles and found that Joy dishwashing detergent created the best giant bubbles. I’d have to buy some.

The next morning, I was awakened very early by small stirrings in the house. Shelly was up. I knew in my sleepy mind that Christmas Day festivities would soon begin, so I arose and made my way toward the kitchen to start the coffee. In the hallway, I met my daughter, already wide awake, the bubble- maker clutched in her chubby little hand, the magic of Christmas morning embraced in her four-year-old heart. Her eyes were shining with excitement, and she asked, “Daddy, can we make bubbles now?”

I sighed heavily and rubbed my eyes. I looked toward the window, where the sky was only beginning to lighten with the dawn. I looked toward the kitchen, where the coffeepot had yet to start dripping its aromatic reward for early-rising Christmas dads.

“Shelly,” I said, my voice almost pleading and perhaps a little annoyed, “it’s too early. I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”

Her smile fell away. Immediately I felt a father’s remorse for bursting her bright Christmas bubble with what I suddenly realized was my own selfish problem, and my heart broke a little.

But I was a grown-up. I could fix this. In a flash of adult inspiration, I unshouldered the responsibility. Recalling the inventor’s recommendation of a particular brand of bubble-making detergent — which I knew we did not have in the house — I laid the blame squarely on him, pointing out gently, “Besides, you have to have Joy.”

I watched her eyes light back up as she realized, in less than an instant, that she could neutralize this small problem with the great and wonderful truth she was about to reveal.

“Oh, Daddy,” she promised, with all the honesty and enthusiasm and Christmas excitement she could possibly communicate, “Oh, Daddy, I do.”

I broke records getting to the store, and in no time at all we were out on the front lawn creating gigantic, billowing, gossamer orbs–each one filled with Joy and sent forth shimmering into the Christmas sun.

By - Ted A. Thompson
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17 comments
  1. kiwiskan said:

    I like this – but I keep thinking it should be ‘ode’ to joy. Hard to resist a happy child 🙂

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    • …now that you mention it, “Ode” does sound better. Thanks!!! Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

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  2. In recent years, bubbles have been associated with Easter for me, but now I can find them, and joy at Christmas. Very sweet!

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  3. Thanks, Kenny! My wish this Christmas is that more dads can recognize it is within their power to help preserve the tender moments such as these… yes, tissues… lots!!! 😀 Have a great weekend and take care!

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  4. Young daughters are such great teachers! I woke up thinking about my 20 year old daughter today. She has taught me a lot. Thanks for the reminder!

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  5. Totally cute story. I just love how innocent and honest little children are. I especially “Like” since my name is “Joy” and I was born right before Christmas.

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  6. I have been thinking rather negatively about Christmas, but this puts hope in my heart. Your child, full with Joy, is a story I wont soon forget. It is the simplest of stories that often have the greatest impact.

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  7. Reblogged this on David Emeron: Reflections upon Reflections and commented:
    Ever since I have, as it were, “hit” the double digits, things have never been the same. Still, the Holidays are what we make of them. And as for me and mine, we do so very greatly enjoy them.

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  8. I love the way children can call us back to truth. Their needs are so immediate. Their feelings so unmasked and brilliant.

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  9. Nice story. Children always have such an innocent outlook on life. 🙂

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