Dorian Dean, Expert Hiker in the Making.
Look at me, I am up in the air in my happy little hiking backpack. I get to sit on Mama or Daddy’s back and I even have a little place for my feet while they go do this thing called “hiking” things in pretty places.
I love my little pack, which is made just for little people like me, because I can see the world from up where my Mama and my Daddy are. Everything looks different from up here, and everything is a little less gigantic. I wish I could be up this high all the time so I could see more, but Mama says not to hurry to grow taller because she wants me just my size right now and wishes she could keep me that little. I know you don’t want me hurrying up, Mama, but the view sure is fantastic, so I can’t help it.
I love being outside in the sun, the water, and the trees… any part of the wonderful outside part of the Earth, so this is my new favorite spot to be. After all, a place where I can hug onto my Mama and Daddy’s back while getting warm in the sunshine? I just don’t think that you can get much better.
Quick Mama, Before the Giant Snowflakes Go Back Up in the Sky!
Oh Mama, those snowflakes are gigantic. I am a snow expert now with the weather this year, and those are the biggest that I have ever seen. Have you seen any that big before, Mama? Can we play? Can I see them? Quick, before they go away. I know it’s cold, but I am big now and I can handle it. I am using my giant yelling voice to let you know how excited that I am. Okay? Yes?
I heard you say, “one minute,” because it is so cold. I get to feel them on my face though, Mama, and they tickle my skin. I know we can’t really stay out here, but I love it because everything is so still and so quiet. It is peaceful out here, Mama, even though it’s cold, and I feel like these snowflakes were made just for me.
I am a Snow Queen! Can we Just Build a Snow House and Live Out Here?
Yesterday Mama, Dada, and me woke up to everything being white all around us. The grass was all gone and the cars and everything looked like big lumps of white, too. It looked like God had painted the whole world white. Dada told me that this was called snow, and he promised me that I would get the chance to play outside when it was a bit warmer. I kept looking out the windows at it all morning, but Mama said that the best time would be after my morning nap time because it was still a bit too cold for really little people.
I am too little to think about when I get tired… I just do. I wore out early from all of the snow watching, and when I woke up, Mama said that lunch would happen and then we would get bundled up to go outside. Mama wasn’t playing around with that one– she got me in my regular clothes, a pink slick suit called a “snowsuit,” a jacket, extra socks, mitten gloves for my hands, and a little hat. She laughed and said something about me looking like the little kid from A Christmas Story and “I can’t put my arms down!” I don’t know what any of that means, but I know that I sure was warm and ready to brave the cold.
When we got outside, though, I didn’t know quite what to do. My feet sank into the white world, and my legs weren’t long enough yet to be able to get them out. I got stuck, but I wasn’t scared. Mama and Daddy, after all, were right there to help me with that walking part. I got to use my mitten hands to pick up snow and I put it right in my mouth. It was like a soft ice cube, and I wanted to keep eating and eating it. Daddy took off the sharp part of a long ice stick that he called an icicle and helped me to snack on that, too. It was like a snow snack party, and it was my very favorite part. I love cold things, and there is an entire world of cold things outside right now.
Then Daddy had to finish working on the driveway to make sure that it was safe to be able to venture out into the rest of the world. He took a giant stick with a wide thing at the end that he told me was a snow shovel and he took the snow from our little driveway and put it in our yard. The snow got higher and higher around our little driveway, and Daddy let me play in the loose piles that were easy to get to. Daddy works too hard, and I like to help out, so I got the big stick and helped him get the snow away. I think that I did a good job, and Mama and Daddy both laughed and told me that I had a good shovel “technique,” which they said is a fancy way to say how you do a certain thing. I think by the end that I was quite the professional.
When Daddy’s work was all done, although Daddy says it never really is, he got down in his big work snow suit and played with me. Daddy made balls out of the snow and handed them to me to throw, and he threw some really hard across the yard and on our little Winnebago house on wheels, too. We laughed and played and played until Mama said that I must be a frozen Dorian-cicle, and she took me inside to do my other favorite thing… take a warm bath and get all toasty inside.
I think that snow might just be my favorite thing right now. This changes a lot… after all, I am still seeing new things all of the time, but playing in the snow with my Daddy? That just might be one of the best things that I have ever done. Love you, little white world in my backyard. Can’t wait to have another playdate soon.
I Can Taste the Earth, and it’s Delicious.
Daddy is our cook, and last night he made a yummy veggie stew with tomatoes, leeks, carrots, asparagus, squash, zucchini, barley, and herbs. It was so, so good in my belly that I couldn’t wait for the new bite while I was eating the one in my mouth. I wanted it to get in my belly faster than I could even swallow it.
Because it cooked for a long time, it was soft and it melted together when you ate it. That’s how stew is, Daddy says. It cooks for a while, and all of the flavors come together in a way that makes it all taste yummy and slide right down into your belly. It makes you warm and cozy, and since it is cold outside here, that is perfect to make you feel sleepy and happy.
Before the food melts together though, it goes into the big strainer so it can get washed and then it gets cut up. I like to take the pieces of food that most people don’t eat cold, and I take big bites out of them. Last night Mama washed an entire leek and when I reached for it, Daddy gave it to me thinking that I may play with it. Instead, though, just like I do for lots of veggies, I took a bite out of it like an apple with my four little teeth. Then I took another, and another, and another, until the leek had a large part missing from it. It was all chewed up when I gave it back to Daddy.
I do that with a lot of veggies before they are cooked, which Daddy says are “raw foods.” They give me pieces of all of the veggies to eat before they are heated up. I love them—they taste like the dandelions that I am always stealing from the yard and eating.
Daddy says that raw veggies are really healthy because heating them up takes some of the good stuff in the food out of the food, and he says some people only eat “raw” food that is barely heated or not heated at all so that they can get all of the good stuff. He said that it is good that I like them as much as I do, and he says if I keep eating that way and liking those things that I will be really healthy as I get bigger and bigger. I don’t care about that, though, I just care that I can taste the Earth with every bite… and the Earth tastes wonderful.
Can Christmas Morning Happen Again Soon?
I woke up a few mornings ago and there were lots of new things for me to play with. Mama and Daddy told me that it was Christmas morning, and that is why those things were there. They reminded me that was why we went and saw the big and gentle man named Santa Claus in New York City, so that he could know what I wanted to be able to have to play with in our little house. I didn’t really get, though, that it meant that new toys would appear for me to play with later. I really think that I can get used to this Christmas presents thing.
I got a big kitchen set with pans and an oven mitt and a toaster and a cash register, and I got a giant giraffe stuffed animal that is bigger than me to hug and hug and hug, and I got a stocking full of toys too and some Little People in an airplane. Nana and Granny brought over toys too, so there were so, so many new things to play with that I just kept going from thing to thing all day long until I passed out from all of the excitement.
Now I keep waiting for Christmas morning to happen again because it was really exciting to wake up and to see all those new things, but Mama and Daddy told me that it won’t happen again for a whole year, and by that time, I won’t even really remember this last one just like I didn’t remember the one before this year when I was a little bitty baby. They said as I get older, though, I will begin to remember more about what has happened to me. All that I know is that I hope that a year doesn’t take too long because I want for Christmas to happen to me again… maybe tomorrow? The next day? How long is a year anyway, Mama?
Yes, Little Dorian, There is a Santa Claus… and he just might be at the New York Macy’s
I have dreams of Santa. I have even said the word “Santa” over and over, even though Mama and Daddy have no idea how I would know his name yet—after all, I am only 16 months old and my memories of last Christmas are really fuzzy. I remember the tree lights, and I remember my brother and sisters laughing around me, but I don’t remember the day really as I was much too little. For me it was almost a lifetime ago.
I know Santa, though, even though Mama and Daddy don’t know how I know, and I know where the real spirit of Christmas is—everywhere all around us. It is in everything that parents do to make their children have a happy Christmas, and it is in the feeling of happiness and love that is all around us everywhere that we go during this time. You can feel it, and it is like a soft and fuzzy blanket tucking you in. You can’t really see it or touch it, but it is there all the same.
Santa is kind of like that, and he is real. I know it, and I feel him in the spirit of everyone around me. He is a bright shining light all around all of us, coming and bringing cheer and happiness and presents to children all around the world. No one knows exactly where he is or what he looks like, not exactly, as he looks different all over the world. We think that he is big and jolly where we are, and we have stockings hung up for him. Not everyone sees him that way, but that is what makes him so wonderful—he can be big or small, he can put little presents in shoes or giant socks, and we all love him just the same because he is one of the most giving powers on the Earth.
No one knows exactly where he goes before Christmas, either. Little children all over the world go to see him, and they let him know what they would like to have from him and that they have been good, but there are many, many children in the world, and there are many places where you can go to visit with him. Some people think that he is everywhere all at once because of his magic and that he looks different ways to different people. Other people think that he is only at one place and that he has a lot of helper Santas all working to make him able to see all of the little children. Some people think that his spirit is everywhere that we go at Christmastime and that we all have him in our lives even if you do not go to see him. No one knows for sure.
The big Macy’s in New York City, I think though, just might be the place where he really is. I know, because we went, and it was one of those places where you could feel Christmas spirit all around you. When we went up and up and up to the number 8 floor where Santa is, there were many children of all ages and even big people like Mama and Daddy all waiting to see him. There were elves everywhere, and they all talked about how excited they were that Christmas was right around the corner.
There were scenes behind glass that moved that Mama called “displays” that were “animated.” They were beautiful, and they looked like they had been around for a long time and that they had been seen by many children that were now big people like Mama and Daddy and older than them too. After the displays that moved there was a train, and it was bright and took us into the world of the North Pole—which I hear is the place where he lives. There was a giant tree and trains that moved around in little miniature towns, and there were reindeer that laughed and talked to you. With everything happening around us, time went by really fast—like magic—until it was time for us to go into the little room to see Santa.
I told you that this may have been the real Santa. It wasn’t all of the things that were magical or the elves or any of those types of things… it was the feeling that I got when I sat in his lap with my big sister Addie. He was so gentle in everything that he said, and his smile was so warm when he had us speak to him that you couldn’t help but to love him and to want to stay. I would have stayed all day with him if I had been able to, but there were a lot of people that wanted to talk to him, so we had to let them go, too.
He first asked Adalyn, “What is the one thing that you want for Christmas?” She told him a giant kitty stuffed animal. Then he asked me. He didn’t ask Mama or Addie or Daddy like most people do because they expect the big people to answer for me—he asked me. I couldn’t say what I wanted because I really can’t let all of the words out that I know inside my head yet, so Addie said, “a little kitchen with little pans and food.” That was right—I like to cook like my Daddy does, and I know how to stir and mix ingredients already, but I need my own pretend place to make things for Daddy to do special things for him too like he does for us pretty much every day.
Then it was time to go.
Mama picked me up to take me away, and I stopped. I stopped right there and I stared at him, Santa Claus, love of all small children, and I reached for him. I reached out silently, not shouting in my big voice like I normally would (as I knew that it was the time for silence) as far as my arm would go. I looked at him, and he didn’t go on to the next people that wanted to see him—he spent a moment with me instead. He waved to me like other small children wave to me, with his hand opening and closing, and said, “Santa loves you, dear,” and he smiled. His soft voice was love, and I knew that he meant for me to hear it, not Mama or even Addie. It was meant only for me, and it was what I know to be part of the love of Christmas spirit… the love of bringing others joy. We had to leave then, but I took that part of Santa Claus along with me, and it is still there… the spirit of giving and the kindness of Christmas.
I saw those window displays of “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” too. Mama explained the letter where the little girl asked the New York Sun if there was a Santa Claus and their response that yes, there was a Santa. I knew it anyway. There is a Santa Claus, and as the letter says, “He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times and 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
Why Can’t I See the Top of Those Trees?
We kept going past that bridge, although I didn’t really want to at first. Mama and Daddy told me that we were going to see some of the biggest trees that I would ever see. I didn’t really know what they were talking about since all trees are huge and I can only see the tops of the trees in the backyard if I tilt my neck just right. We were going to a place called Muir Woods, and Mama told me that it was one of the prettiest and most peaceful places that she had ever been. I think that the meaning of peace is curling up in Daddy’s arms, but once we walked into the woods, I felt what she meant. It was quiet… so quiet. Even though there were people all over the place, it was still and the air was cool against my skin. Even I, who am known to wave my arms and kick feet while squealing, couldn’t help but remain quiet taking all of it in. I couldn’t reach them. Not the top… any of them. They were too far, although I kept stretching for them. Mama was carrying me, though, and she found one close enough for me to touch. It was so moist and fuzzy, but it felt… like it had seen a lot of life. Mama whispered in my ear that they were very, very old and that many people had touched them that were no longer with us. I don’t really know what she meant, but I do know that I could feel that the tree that I was touching was here long, long before me or even Mama and Daddy, and that it would still be around when I was big like Mama.