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Joy Surprises Us

I would stumble down the stairs in the morning, anticipating my waffle breakfast, and there they would be. The Waffle Boys, getting into some kind of mischief.

The Waffle Boys

This gift, from Jonathan to me, which went on for five months, would instantly brighten my morning. It wasn't every day, so I wouldn't even be thinking about it, until I came down and turned on the kitchen light...and burst into laughter.

But I should introduce them. From left, going clockwise: Harry, Captain Flathead, Whiskey Business, and Ringo, (the monkey was not one of the original group), were a gift to Jonathan from our daughter, Helen. But when I began using them every morning, they were dubbed The Waffle Boys.

They made messes...

Messy egg spill

rappelled from the ceiling...

Hanging from ceiling.

and went snowshoeing.

Snowshoeing Waffle Boys

They played golf,

Playing golf

went bird watching,


and helped us mourn the loss of Jonathan's beloved mom.

A tribute to Jonathans' mom who had just died.

On Sunday, Jonathan posted on Facebook: "Been thinking about my mom a lot in this first Christmas without her. I look around and so much of what I see was touched or influenced by her. Is there a word that combines deep gratitude and deep sadness?"

My friend, Elaine, expressed it well when she answered, "Joy is different from happiness. Joy is what surprises us through the cracks of our grief. Then we weep tears of gratitude for having been loved by a parent like your mom.”

Tangible objects can surprise us with joy--a rediscovered ornament or handmade gift from a loved one--as can a special meal which brings back fond memories, even when accompanied by pangs of longing or loss.

But we can also find ways to surprise those around us whom we love, to help them find joy through the cracks of whatever challenges they face, to help clear their paths toward delight, toward a lightening of their days.

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