“Here, Noah. This is for YOU.” Emily, still in the throes of holiday spirit, pushes a lushly-wrapped parcel into his tummy.
“Oh, THANK you!” Noah clutches his bundle of shiny red and gold and ribbon and bows, all held together with copious strips of metallic green tape. “Is beautiful, Emily!”
“Yes, it is! And now you open it!”
And so he does. The struggle with the tape and the ribbons and the bows and the paper goes on for quite a while, Emily and Noah both engrossed in the task, heads together.
“I will hold this and you can pull that,” Emily directs.
“Yes, and then you can tear on dat.”
Eventually, there on the table before them is a glittering, shimmering pile of glossy paper, glittering tape and, in the midst of it all, several lengths of curling ribbon.
“Oh! It’s beautiful! Thank you!”
Spontaneous toddler hugs are just the cutest damned things…
At the end of the day, Noah races to his mother, his hands cupped against his tummy, his arms cradling his bundle of shimmering, shining, love-in-crumpled-paper.
“Look, mommy! Lookit what Emily gaved me!”
Mommy peers into the midst of the colours and shininess. “Oh, that’s so nice! Isn’t Emily such a good friend! What did she give you?”
Noah looks into his arms and peers into the sparkling debris. “She gave me… it’s… she, um…” He pauses and looks up, confusion replacing delight. His mother’s kind and entirely reasonable question has framed the perception of his gift in a way entirely unrelated to his own experience of it. His voice, when he speaks, registers utter surprise.
“Nothing?” Mommy is surprised, too.
“Nothing.” Noah is still puzzled. Then his face clears. Mommy’s question is Mommy’s question, but he knows what he knows. “It’s a nothing, and it’s beautiful!”