Yesterday when I picked up Boo Bug, she (and all her classmates) came out proudly clutching a pinecone turkey. Yes, one of those. Googly eyed, stuck all over with pieces of mix-matched construction paper and cheap, dyed feather festooned, she bore it with all the pride of a hostess presenting the perfectly roasted, 25 pound Thanksgiving Dinner with All The Trimmings version.
Now, I will admit that a pinecone turkey was somewhere very, very near the bottom of the list of things I was hoping to have in the house. And when I saw her coming out the door with one, I repressed a groan of dismay. Ugh. Pinecone turkey. Swell.
But there are two things I strive to do – no matter how bad my day, no matter how in a hurry I may be or how little I feel like it or how much I’d really rather be snoring my afternoon away on a nice, quiet sofa somewhere.
One: Greet my child as though I am damned thrilled to be picking her up now, and
Two: Always, always, always admire her talents
So, after the joyful cries of, “There you are! Did you have fun!?”, I turned my attention to the pinecone turkey.
It was staring at me, an insipid gaze from the googly eyes. The feathers wafted gently in the afternoon breeze. The construction paper beak wiggled slightly as I picked it up to, uh, admire it.
It is, in a word, ugly. And I swear I heard it chuckle as I thought, in great dismay, Oh Lord, I’m going to have to find someplace to put this thing…
But I admired the colorfulness of its feathers and the cuteness of the googly eyes and the expressive use of color squiggles and my daughter looked up at me with huge, excited, worshipful eyes.
“I made it for YOU!” she shouted gladly, again and again, as we skipped our way across the parking lot to the van.
It is currently sitting, with pride and dignity (or at least, as much dignity as is possible for a creature sporting googly eyes), in the middle of my formal dining room table. The “good” table. Yes, that’s right! I have a pinecone turkey with bright pink and orange and blue feathers gracing the holiday table!!
And I love it. Because every time I look at it, I don’t see the stupid pinecone bird with its ridiculous accoutrements.
I see her enormous eyes, her brilliant smile, the excitement on her little face because her art had been so well received by one of the few critics who really matter to her; I can feel her little hand in mine, hear her lisping voice singing “I made it for YOU!”, wrap myself up in the memory of her happy hug and preserve these fleeting moments of her too-brief preschool years.
There could be no better decoration for my holidays than that.
Frank Lloyd Wright
23 hours ago