Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Innocence

There is nothing more honest or innocent than a child. In making my rounds about the restaurant this evening, I chanced upon a little boy and his grandparents. He couldn't have been more than eight or nine, and was a little plump and very cheerful. His brown page boy haircut framed two rosy cheeks and a very big grin. His grandparents were gaunt by comparison, the grandfather with a trucker's hat and a scraggly beard, and the grandmother in her second hand coat.

They assured me that their dinner was just fine, and as I stepped away from the table, the little boy spoke up, saying, "This is the best restaurant I've ever been to!". Now, we're no Waffle House, mind you, but Emeril probably wouldn't consider our cuisine fit for human consumption, either, I'm sad to say. But this little boy had paid me perhaps the nicest compliment possible, without even knowing it. And it was honest and heartfelt, to boot.

So I turned back and asked him if he was ready for Christmas, just to engage him a little further and pay him some of my attention. It was the least I could do. I wasn't prepared for such a shockingly honest reply.

"Oh, yes. My daddy's coming tomorrow because he just got out of jail two weeks ago and he's bringing my present. He can't stay, though, because he has to be back at twelve o'clock every night because he just got out of jail."

There was no embarrassment at all from the boy. He was proud and excited to spend time with his daddy. The grandparents, on the other hand, were quick to put their fingers to their lips and shush the little butterball who was telling the family secrets in an almost boastful manner. Sensing their shame, I focused only on the little boy.

Placing my hand on his shoulder, I looked in his eyes and said, "It sounds like you're going to have a great Christmas, big guy. I hope you get everything you want." And as I walked away, I realized what I wanted for Christmas. I wanted this little boy's daddy to make good on his promise and spend some time with his son.

So, Santa, if you're out there, please grant my wish. I know that I have more than I will ever deserve, and I won't ask you for anything else, ever. Just, please don't let this boy down. He deserves this one little gift. His innocence won't last forever, much like his belief in you. But don't take it away just yet. Please. He's a good kid, and honest and unashamed, too. Please, Santa, just let him stay that way a little bit longer. After all, it's the holidays. Merry Christmas.

2 comments:

Sassy Molassy said...

Gah! That made me cry.

Da Vintner said...

It's a rare talent who can exude such strong emotions in so few words. Bravo.