Deathwish Wynter

The US Park Service knows my name. They know my family. They have flyers posted outside the White House with our picture on it for easy reference.

We're not terrorists.

We're *that* family.

We've lived in the Washington, D.C. metro area since 1999 and as per tradition, we travel to see the National Tree on the White House lawn each week after Christmas so as to look at the new ornaments on the Oregon state tree (where we're from) and gaze in wonder at the sometimes ugly decorations on the large tree in the center of it all. There are usually hundreds of people milling around, circling the same tree, taking photos or getting warm at the giant fire pit set up at the far end of the space allocated near the grandstand where the president stood hours or days before making speeches and smiling widely at the crowds.

My daughter, Wynter, was born on Christmas day. No child has as big a heart, as wide a smile or feet that can wander off quicker. Her nickname is Deathwish Wynter due to the escapades she gets herself into; Christmas is no different, it just involved more park rangers. 

Each year, as we make our way downtown, I give the lecture, "Girls, everyone has a buddy. You will not leave your buddy's side. You will not chase trains nor climb into the Nativity Scene. Is this understood?" Naturally, they nod. They knew I had Santa's ear.

"Husband. As I have infants to carry, you are Wynter's buddy. You will not leave her side nor hold hands with good-smelling strangers like last year. Is that understood?" A brief wave of his hand didn't convince me but I had last minute breastfeeding to do; after five kids, I always have last minute breastfeeding to do...

As we approach the White House, the rangers walkie-talkie each other like Secret Service agents on alert. “The Grahams are here. Wynter is wearing a purple coat with a blueberry knit hat… quick! She’s making a run for it!” I don’t even have to walk up to the presidential platform anymore for announcements to be made, they’ve already seen my frantic dash around the tree, bobbing infant on my hip and wild look in my eyes.

A large, muscular ranger has my small person in tow, her hands occupied with unwrapping a sucker he kept in his pocket for such occasions. “Here she is, Ma’am, you may want to consider GPS next year. We’ll see you climbing into the Sculpture Garden pond in the summer, see that Lily keeps her clothes on this time.” With a nod, my tax dollars at work melts back into the crowd.

“Husband! That’s not me!” Startled, he looks from the tree to the family he’s been following for the last fifteen minutes. They’re not his. This year there will be two GPS units under the tree…

This column originally appeared at An Army of Ermas

No comments:

Post a Comment