It was long abandoned and dead. Pushed to the back of the shelf, the palm sized digital camcorder had not been used in over a year. The tangle of wires promised a remedy, the charger and device had not been separated.
In search of refreshment, I stop halfway to the kitchen to observe my ten year old daughter. In a cartilage induced slump, she has flayed herself half on, half off the couch, her pony tail brushing the area rug.
“Bored” she said. Then her eyes came to rest on the natural wood chest that doubled as a side table. With a twist she flopped onto the floor and rose up onto her knees. Carefully picking up a pillar candle by its iron base, she continued with the wire basket of sparkling paper-mache apples until the hinged top was clear.
My journey to the refrigerator momentarily resumed before asking. “What are doing?”
“This used to be full of games, might be something to do.” She said. Her head already bowing into the cavity.
Reaching for the juice container, I am infused with a slight pang of guilt. I should offer to play with her.
Turning back from the fridge, she stood at the granite topped island that separates the kitchen from the great room. She looked at me and held up a rectangular wooden box. The contents clicked as she slid it onto the counter. “I am going to build one of those falling down things.” She then proceeded to unpack the box of dominos.
My thoughts drifted to just moments before. “When you’re done, let’s video tape it.” The game had become a production and my daughter’s sense of showmanship ignited.
She finished building the domino fence long before the orange light stopped blinking to indicate a full battery charge. Impatience consumed another hour and the filming begun, complete with dramatic commentary and even a song.
Later that day the camera was pointed at one of our dogs during a run in the desert, the guinea pigs ‘popcorning’ (strange vertical jumps in their pen), and our cat’s lazy gaze. All of these simple domestic moments were captured onto the tiny video cassette. I was participating in a day in my family’s life.
The use of the video camera had an unexpected result. Looking through the tiny 3 x 4 lcd monitor, the gentle moments came into focus. In these days of stressful pre-occupation about the economy, difficulties in the workplace, friction with my children, family finances; I was aware of how much I have to be thankful for. All the other distracting and draining thoughts were momentarily off-frame where they belonged. Even behind the camera I was more engaged than I had been in months.
Only now, a week later as these thoughts tumble into a journal entry do I realize that the day I picked up the camera was US Thanksgiving.
As a Canadian living in the United States, I have always felt detached from this favorite American holiday. I admire the family focus it engenders but I recoil at the connection to shopping.
I often wonder about the salutation “Have a Happy Thanksgiving.” To give thanks is an outward gesture of compassion. It always feels more appropriate to wish “Have a happy holiday.”
The dominos splatter across the shiny granite surface, each pushing the next one down. The fallen henge silent as the camera moves in on my daughter’s smile.
Ultimately I found my own way to be thankful. Through the serendipity of closet, camera, daughter then family I give thanks and had a most Happy Thanksgiving.