He is trying, with every ounce of not-quite-seven-year-old boy bravado, to stop crying. He is disappointed by the weather and the pronouncement that we will all stay home tonight. His hopes of attending the football game have been crushed by the cold and wet and the flu season.
I am tired. My week has been long and wearing, both on mind and body. I want to tell him to buck up, to just deal, to get over it, it’s just a game, it’s not the end of the world, don’t you know there are starving children in Africa.
It is a selfish response. A selfishness I am beginning to see reflected in their actions, their words.
Are we a family, or are we every man for himself?
I call him to me and set him in my lap, all the ridiculous impossible length of him. I rest my chin on his head and wrap my arms around him and explain, once more, that we are trying to make the best choice for our family. I remind him how much we love him. I ask if perhaps hot chocolate and baked treats would make his loss seem more bearable, and he thinks perhaps they would. I say something silly and he responds in kind, and soon we are laughing and wrestling and tickling in the armchair while the smell of baked potatoes and frying bacon fills the house.
We fill glasses, break up potatoes, rearrange the chairs, sprinkle on cheese, dollop on the sour cream. We hold hands and thank God for His faithfulness and blessings. Time for the football game to start comes and goes as we salt the seconds and pass the plates. We chatter on about little pieces of our lives– work and school and play.
I clear the table and mix up brownies as they change into pajamas and pile on the couch. The smell of chocolate wafts through this warm place, and we listen to a story of pirates and treasure and Davy Jones. As the last page is turned, as they begin to relive the story again in words and imagination, I pull the pan from the oven.
Then we are silly, because Daddy is telling the story of the biggest pumpkin ever, only he has switched the words “mouse” and “pumpkin” so that now two pumpkins are growing the biggest mouse ever. And with brownies there is the story of Little Toot, which gets so silly that we must put a stop to it for fear that they will repeat the gassier parts of the tale to their grandmother or Sunday School teacher.
Faces chocolatey, tummies full, souls full of laughter, they tumble up the stairs to their beds.
Kisses and hugs and prayers, blankets and stuffed dogs and more kisses, then darkness and silence and sweet rest.
Out in the drizzly cold Friday night, the football team scores a touchdown.
Here in our warm dry comfortable home, we settle in, full, happy, and mindful that the love of this family is so much sweeter than the taste of a home team victory.
Because we are not every man for himself.
We are a family.