Have you ever counted the seconds it takes for the snow to fall inside a snow globe once it is shaken, stirred, and returned right-side up? Not long. Twenty, maybe 30 seconds before the last little flake of white lands on a tiny painted surface and it's time to shake it again. No matter, for watching each piece fall in slow motion is mesmerizing, magical and peaceful.
My snow-globe moment wasn't found in New York watching the Rockettes Holiday Spectacular. Nor was I at one of those drive-through nativity scenes or attending a children's Christmas play. Nope. For 15 glorious minutes this evening, my teenage daughters and I decorated our Christmas tree.
How in the world did I get them away from phones, music, homework, Snapchat and Netflix binges, you ask? Rather than film a YouTube how-to video, I have created a step-by-step plan I like to call "Tinsel and Teens: How to Turn Back Time."
Before your cheeks turn Santa-Claus cherry-red with excitement, keep this in mind: The magic is temporary. Research has proven teen attention span on any given activity is 30 minutes, max. Also, capturing these moments with photography is at your own risk. At the sight of a flash, your teens may run as fast as Tinkerbell fleeing from Captain Hook.
The first step is to plant the idea in their heads at least two hours prior to when the decorating is to take place. Feeding your subject first is absolutely mandatory. For example, tonight I cooked a full four-course meal AND offered fast food. Whatever you want! I said. Burgers from Braums? Sure! Starbucks afterwards? Let's get a Grande!
Any preset rules of a sit-down, family dinner are strictly off the table. Subjects must be allowed to eat in front of the TV. Tonight we had to complete the current episode of 90210: the post-millenium version (bye-bye, Brandon and Dillon). And as one of my teens tried to sneak up the stairs, I reminded her of my hesitant "yes" to a midweek, school-night concert. In Dallas. (That's another blog post altogether).
After your half-grown children are in place, carefully unload the boxes of tinsel, lights and shiny ball ornaments. If they put on a holiday playlist like Pentatonix Holiday Album, do not squeal with delight. Keep calm. DO NOT sing along. If you have to turn and sip -- err, guzzle -- your glass of wine, do whatever it takes to act like this is an ordinary activity, and you are down wid' it. Chill, yo. Stay cool when one of them holds up a Tinkerbell ornament and recalls a memory. Whatever you do, don't cry. One tear and they'll run like rats from a trap, never to be seen again.
When one of the teens begins traveling around the tree with a string of lights, and the other one is snapping pictures, then and only then may you pause, never allowing them to see what you see: Images of chubby hands stretching high to hang ornaments from evergreen branches. Memories of Santa photo opps, candy-colored velvet dresses and wish lists for dolls and toys.
Following these steps, you may, for mere seconds (okay maybe minutes), enjoy a breath-taking, slow-motion mini-movie, complete with surround sound Christmas music and scenes from the past. Perhaps one will decide it's her turn to put the star on the tree and climb up the ladder while you hold it tight. Finally, don't breathe. Enjoy until the last tiny flake falls, and whatever you do, refrain from sharing it on Instagram, Facebook or (gasp!) a blog.