I asked my daughter, Rachel Maucieri (Rachel Lyn Photography) if she would write me a short story for my gift this year. She did and read it to me for Christmas. One of my best gifts ever- actually a ‘passing out gift!’ I wanted to share her piece with you today, featuring her as my first guest blogger.
The teacher told us to pack up our parcels and head outside for the afternoon break in classes. In America, I would have sprinted out the door with all of my friends racing each other to the playground for recess, but this wasn’t America, after all. This was France. And in the south of France, one did not race outside to a playground or trade Fruit Roll-ups for Starcrunch. No, at this little schoolhouse in the south of France, we quietly gathered our things and walked side by side out to a green, open meadow where the faculty had prepared a long table with a white table-cloth waiting for the kids with baskets of french baguette, cheese, and dark chocolate sticks. There was an arrangement of fresh flowers in the middle and on the end was a large glass water dispenser with sliced cucumbers floating to the top. This was our “recess”. We all went straight to the table of refreshments and gathered our snacks, tearing our bread and snagging as much of the chocolate as we were allotted.
A good amount of the children played soccer down in the valley of the meadow, but my friends and I ran straight for the trees that lined the open land. Of course, when I say “friends” I mean my only two buddies, Georgie and Charlotte. We climbed our usual tree and made a pact that we would teach each other all the things about our cultures that we could think of for the rest of our days together. For instance, they taught me, day one, that I was eating my bread and chocolate all wrong. I didn’t know you could eat bread and chocolate wrong, but after my first bite of the dark chocolate/baguette sandwich they made me, I stood corrected.
We taught each other how to say certain words in our different dialects, each thinking the other sounded way cooler than ourselves, of course. This was the first time that I ever realized that people who weren’t from America actually thought things about America were as cool as I thought other places in the world were. We stayed up in those trees for the 2 hours that we had for our break, switching accents, teaching each other songs, writing plays, and performing those plays. All the while eating our delicious chocolate sandwiches.
It was a dream. Especially now that I am a 25 years old-looking back on these worry-free afternoons. But before this sounds too perfect, I better quickly include that this all was after the first portion of my time at this school where I would spend my free time trying to escape the school grounds. Every day I attempted running away to the older kids’ school where my brother, Lance was, in hopes of being united with someone familiar where I could feel safe. I craved America and things that were familiar to me from the second we arrived in France. I wanted to be where I could understand what people were saying to me. I wanted to feel confident in my classes and in my social situations. I wanted to watch Hey Arnold and dip my chicken McNuggets in sweet n’ sour sauce, dang it!
I wanted all of these things, but if I couldn’t have that, I at least wanted to be around my family at all times. I was okay at home or even when we were traveling around Europe because I was with my three people who had always been “home” to me. We could travel, we could eat weird food, we could struggle through the city streets and the public transportation as long as we were together. I didn’t know until much later that my parents were struggling way more than I was at the time. Of course they were. Now that I’m a mom and one of the partners in charge of my own family of 4, I can’t imagine the weight they had on them. But they did it and they loved us all the way around the world and back, the whole time. Always loving us and always loving each other and always always pointing our family back to Jesus.
So often we can make memories out to be way more perfect in our minds than what they really were. But I think I want to take a lesson from this re-occurring phenomenon and recognize that in the here and now. If I slow down and think to myself “this is one day going to be a really sweet memory”, then maybe I will pause for long enough to experience the sweetness in that moment. Tiny moments come and go so quickly, may we try with all of our might to catch one or two and hold on just a liiiiiitle bit longer than normal.