**Originally written in December of 2009**
#6 and I went Christmas shopping at the mall yesterday.
I was looking for gifts, and he was in his sling beaming his toothless grin at an adoring world. He loves the sling because it allows him to meet people eye to eye, and he is a boy who dearly loves people.
He often gets ignored or overlooked when people see only the number of children I have with me and not his sunny face. Yesterday he was in his glory. The only child in sight, he was free to flirt his way through the stores, one enchanted face at a time.
We were 10 feet into the first store when he flashed a grin and a dimple at two ladies in their 70s. They were immediately drawn to us and gushed about his cuteness. Before we had made our way out of the men’s department, my son had charmed a dozen grandparents, and a couple of sales ladies.
“If you don’t stop flirting, we’ll be here forever,” I whispered into his ear. He squealed and flapped his arms.
By the escalator, we saw a crowd of goth kids standing around and just hanging out. All with four or more face piercings and slouchy posture, the ones who seem so wrapped in their own depression that a cloud hangs over them. I started to edge away from them when #6 saw one of the boys looking at him. He shrieked in delight and glowed with pleasure at the sight of this young man. The goth boy smiled back. He and his friends walked hesitantly over to us and he gently touched my baby’s cheek with his finger. #6 reached up and wrapped his chubby hand around the boy’s finger, cocked his head to the side and grinned. The whole group smiled in response and wished us a “Merry Christmas” as we walked away.
I began to sing softly to myself and appreciate the warmth of the reactions to the goodwill ambassador I carried. A new spring crept into my step and the stress of my shopping trip started to melt away.
We began to see the same people from one store to another the way mall shoppers do. They were all friends of my son by that point, waving to my baby and greeting him by name. One of his new loves was a middle aged woman in a motorized wheelchair, her body was twisted and ravaged by disease, but #6 saw none of it. He saw her smile and her laughing eyes and grew more enthusiastic about her every time he spotted her. After our 5th run-in, she tentatively asked to be able to hold him. I lifted him from his sling and handed him to her. He studied her face for a moment and then wiggled his eyebrows and sang to her in his own sweet croaky way, then patted her face before turning to look for me.
All day, as I watched with growing understanding the power of love and trust upon an unsuspecting world, my son taught me about the truth of Christmas. The whole point of the season is a smiling baby boy who came into the world and loved everyone He saw, and invited them to love Him in return. He didn’t notice facial piercings or weird tattoos, or social status. He paid no mind to twisted bodies or aged faces. He simply loved the world and beamed His goodwill at all of us and waited patiently for us to adore Him back.