Happily Even After
The Perfect Day
by Josh Noem
We had a perfect day one Friday.
The children got out of school and we had absolutely no plans. The evening unfolded flawlessly, and it will be one of those days that roots itself in my imagination.
On Fridays, our neighborhood public swimming pool opens its doors to families to swim for free. This has been a great activity for us because it is fun for both Oscar, who is 10, and for Simon and Lucy, who are quite a bit younger. It is a good way to expend energy, especially in the dark and wet winters here. And it gives the kids a great comfort and familiarity with water. Simon and Lucy are still learning to swim, but are not afraid to put their heads under water and try (good goggles made a big difference).
So, we swam for an hour together on Friday, which was great. We laughed and played together.
We got out of the pool and wondered about dinner. We had a gift certificate to a local pizza pub and decided to eat out. Everyone gnawing on pizza, me sipping a nice locally brewed beer, and a three-piece band playing swing jazz from the 1930s. One played a stand-up bass, one the piano and trumpet, and one the snare drum. The kids were enthralled and when I looked around the table, I saw everyone smiling. It was just a great moment of connection.
We returned home, slipped into PJs for our traditional Friday movie night. We popped some corn and introduced the kids to the Muppet Movie. We all went to bed with smiles and a light heart.
Memory of moments of consolation like these can nourish me in family life for weeks. It made me feel deeply grateful and joy-filled.
Perhaps one reason the day stands out so strongly is because it is easy for us to go through a series of scattered days when we fail to connect in meaningful ways. We share a job, so we both stay busy at work and at home, but rarely do we share work in either context together at the same time. Throw in three kids in school, basketball practice, violin lessons, play dates and birthday parties, evening commitments with campus ministry students, and sometimes I feel like we are ants, coming through an ant pile shaped like a blue house, briefly rubbing antennae together before heading out again.
So, I will hold on to this day; I will lock it in my memory to return to from time to time, and especially when inevitable days of darkness arrive. I’ll also remember to examine and carefully consider the boundaries on where we spend our time and attention. I have a hunch that moments like this don’t need to be extraordinary; that perhaps opportunities present themselves regularly, but we are too scattered to recognize them.
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