I wore a yellow flower in my hair most of the day Saturday. Youngest put it there, after trapping me in her closet for a beauty treatment. It was our first day home after a week and a half away, and while I felt like I had been with people constantly, she seemed to feel like we needed more us-time. Or maybe I just looked like I needed beautifying. I am rarely fancy enough for that girl. So she closed the door to her closet, made me sit down, waved various articles in front of my face, and stuck one of her flower barrettes in my hair. Voila—beautiful.
A few hours later she caught me in her closet again, putting away laundry, and she shut the door, turned out the light, and gave me a guided “museum tour” of the closet with a flashlight. She is a forceful and passionate and generous soul.
I have often wished to be the sort of person who wore flowers in her hair. In reality, though, it makes me feel out of character—like somebody who’s trying (too hard) to be one of those people who can actually pull it off. But I thought of something I read a few years ago, by a mother who chose to wear the funny hat her daughter gave her, and to pause from her work to watch her daughter’s impromptu ballet, because she didn’t want to run the risk of losing her child and realizing she never did those things. “Not to watch the ballet or wear the hat is a cold and withering sin.” I allowed the words to haunt me and I kept the flower in my hair until I went to bed.
And a funny thing happened. I got to be the person my daughter saw, somebody who could unquestionably pull off a big yellow flower. Somebody more than I might allow myself to be, left to my own devices.
That is a gift.
Because maybe people who wear flowers in their hair are simply the ones who decide, “To hell with it, I feel like wearing a flower in my hair today.” Or maybe they are the ones who had somebody else put the flower there, and that was encouragement enough.
Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
When somebody else can see it too—you with a flower in your hair, for example—sometimes that gives you the strength or the daring or the perseverance you need. It changes your vision. Fortifies it.
When somebody else can see it, that person gives your vision back to you.
By the way, the bit of prose that inspired me to wear the flower? I looked it up to get the exact quote. I hadn’t read it for years, and had forgotten most of the details, beyond the importance of wearing the hat.
It is called “The Gift.”
When I look back on 2012, I see a year that was achingly hard in many ways. And a year marked by determination to keep reaching out. But also—and this is what I want to focus on—what I want to move forward with—is that it was a year of friendship. Of people who gave my vision back to me, who saw things I-only-dared-hope were buried deep inside and gave me the strength to believe and act like they really were there. That is quite a gift.
Janus, Roman god, January’s namesake, was a being with two faces—one looking back and one looking forward. On this day of doing both, regardless of what is ahead or behind, I want to wish you a year of yellow flowers. Loads of them.
Happy New Year, my friends.
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