Anticipation

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Excitement abounds here in the Long household as preparations are made for the arrival of Santa.

At 9- and 8-years old, the girls are at that prime age when Christmas is long anticipated and full of magic.

This morning snow fell lightly coating the ground in white after a week of rain.

These are the moments for which I am grateful.

As the girls grow, the excitement of Christmas will change.

But for me, it will be forever marked by the spirit of anticipation and hope these two little girls have always embodied.

Here they are at 3 and 2 in 2007:

Anticipation from Christopher Long on Vimeo.

Evening Sledding

By | Living, LwCH, The Long Road | 4 Comments

It was dark before I got around to shoveling the walkway.

The girls were excited to be outside, but I had a chore to complete. They wanted to go sledding, so they started down the hill toward the fields where there is a nice slope. They were sure I would tell them, “No, it’s too dark, and I have to shovel snow.”

But I decided to let them go themselves.

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DancinGirl Turns 7, Ponders Finitude

By | LwCH, The Long Road | 2 Comments

DancinGirlTurnsSevenAs we pulled into our driveway after running errands preparing for her Monster High birthday party, DancinGirl, who was generally excited about the day, announced that she has been thinking a lot, recently, about death.

“I wonder what happens after we die,” she says. “I don’t want to be stuck in the ground in a graveyard the whole time.”

At such moments of truth, I consider very carefully my response – I don’t want my anxieties to eclipse her genuine attempts to come to terms with her own finitude.

Val and I look at one another, we’ve been here before: both ArtGirl and DancinGirl consider the question of death on a regular basis. In fact, just last year, ArtGirl, gave a beautiful account of how difficult it is to live with unanswerable questions.

We offer an agnostic response, affirming how difficult it is to live with the knowledge that we really just don’t know what happens when we die.

DancinGirl knows what she wants though: “I just want to keep on being as I am.”

I want that for her too and for her sister, because there are no two beings more beautiful in their being than these two quickly growing little girls.

So on her seventh birthday, my wish for DancinGirl, and for Val and ArtGirl and myself, is that she keep on being as she is and that she continue sharing her beautiful self with us as long as we are here together.

Happy seventh birthday, DancinGirl.

Complementarity

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LITCHFIELD, SC – Vacation can be a time for moments of insight and tenderness. One such moment came this week for me at a restaurant here in South Carolina called Studio Café. (You can see my Yelp! review here).

SC MarshThe restaurant is also an art studio and the owner, Pat Ghannam, both shows here work there and serves tables when they are short staffed. She was serving us that day and she mentioned that the chef was her husband and a co-owner of the restaurant.

At few minutes later, when other members of the table were engrossed in conversation, ArtGirl (7) came to sit on my lap. She had something she wanted to tell me; it was a revelation she’d had.

This is what she whispered in my ear:
ArtGirl: Daddy, I think when you decide who to marry, you should try to find someone who makes you better.

Me: I think that is a great way to think about it, Sweetheart. But how come you are thinking about that now?

ArtGirl: Well, it’s like the server. She is an artist and a server, but her husband is the chef who makes the food for the restaurant. Neither of them could do it alone, but together they can.

And it’s like Mommy and you. There are some things Mom does to make you better and there are some things that you do to make her better.

Me: You know something, you are a very wise person.

And think about this: when you have that sort of relationship, it can also happen that you might just have a daughter, and maybe even two daughters, like you and [DancinGirl], to make your whole family better.

Then we hugged and went back to lunch.

For DancinGirl on Her First Day of Kindergarten

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Dear DancinGirl:

Gotta DanceDo you know why I call you DancinGirl when I write about you here?

It is because, from the moment I met you, now almost six years ago, you were dancing. At first, it was with hands and feet wriggling every which way, then it was the inimitable way you crawled – a sight to behold! – and eventually, as you learned to stand and walk and run, you danced and danced and danced.

Always, you danced.

I love the way you dance. There is a spirit in it that is uniquely you.

You have always moved through the world in a way that is all your own. It is one of the things I admire most about you.

As you start Kindergarten, and the long and wonderful journey that is your formal education, my greatest wish is that your creative, dancing spirit is nourished along the way.

There are so many ways that educational institutions and the culture of schooling dull the very spirit of creativity and imagination on which all real education depends.  But there are also so many people who can and will help cultivate your dancing spirit.

On this, your first day of Kindergarten, may that dancing spirit be magnetic: may it attract others who recognize the beauty of your dancing and who can dance with you; and may the life of education and learning on which you are about to embark enrich the way you move through the world.

Love,
Dad

Beginning in Wonder

By | LwCH, The Long Road | 7 Comments

Aristotle, of course, famously said: “For it is by way of wondering that people both now and at first began to philosophize …” (Metaphysics, I.2, 982b13-4).

Tonight, ArtGirl began to philosophize.

She wondered so eloquently that I had to record it. As we were preparing for bed, she began to consider the beginning of things.

In this short audio clip recorded on the spot, she beautifully articulates a poignant sense of her own finitude, and she does it in a remarkably matter of fact way.

For Hannah on her Fourth

By | LwCH, The Long Road | One Comment

Dear Hannah:

Today is the day we have been talking about since the summer – finally, it’s your birthday!

Today we celebrate you and the way you have celebrated us everyday since you arrived four years ago.

I have always admired the way you inhabit the world. You bring a sense of joy to everything you do and to everyone you meet. You have your own way of moving through the world that makes me smile.

And when you dance, it is something to behold…

Hannah Dancing in WoodsSo on this day of celebration, I have produced a little recording base on our discussion about your fourth birthday.

The two pictures here mark the day of your birth and the weekend before your fourth birthday.

We all wish you a very happy birthday and look forward to being with you as you grow into your fourth year.

Love,
Dad

Life with Chloe and Hannah 01 – Early Snow

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I have posted Life with Chloe and Hannah, episode 01 below. It is the first of what I hope to be an ongoing collection of podcasts that capture something of the daily life of my daughters, Chloe and Hannah.

The idea of the podcast is to focus not on the big events–birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc.–but on the beautiful little events of daily life.

The podcasts are produced in the spirit of that Hasidic Jewish tradition of hallowing the everyday. The format is to allow Chloe and Hannah to speak, as much as possible, for themselves, although at the beginning at least, there is much prompting from their father.