“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

— Rachel Carson

Lily brought the crayons.

When she arrived in town for a weekend with her Dad — our son — she was looking through some of the things he keeps at his house for his daughter’s visits.  Often they are off to a martial arts class or to visit friends, but on this Friday they had no particular plans.  There on the shelf, among so many other choices, Lily found a hinged plastic box filled with crayons.  She put them on the table and let her father tuck her in for the night.  Saturday would be an exciting day.  Our entire extended family was gathering to welcome Uncle Max, Aunt Lauren and cousins Oskar and Gus.  Grandma and Grandpa picked them up at the airport.  Aunt Emily set the tables for lunch and ordered their favorite pizza from the shop where Max worked as a teenager.  Uncle Dan and Aunt Crystal picked Ivy up from her basketball tryouts and brought her along with Cheyenne and Harper to await our arrival.  Lily arrived just as we did, and she brought with her the box of crayons and some blank sheets of paper.

We ate pizza amid a flurry of hugs and excitement, as the adults who had grown up together in this house returned to our home for a reunion with their brothers and sisters.  The next generation joined right in, sensing the joy their parents felt and grabbing hold of it themselves.  As the table cleared, Lily took out her paper and crayons.  She asked if we had any coloring books.  I found one that was left over from her father’s generation, and brought it to the table.  Her eyes sparkled when she saw the intricate pictures, and she sat down to color a page.

That’s when it happened.  One by one, the adults who once played around the same table chose pages from the book and sat down to color.  “What color should I make this part?”  “Blue,” Lily answers, “Sky Blue,” and she hands over the crayon.  By the end of the afternoon, only three pages remained in the book.  The rest had been brought to life by the sharing of crayons, joy, and understanding — by Lily, her cousins, her aunts, and her uncles.

Lily left at the end of the day with her crayons and another book from Grandma’s collection.  My refrigerator is more colorful than it’s been in years.

When we met the following morning for Lily’s goodbye breakfast, she announced, “There are 144 crayons in here — I counted them.”

“Why don’t you take them to your Mom’s house?” offered her Dad.

“Really?”  Lily squealed.  “I don’t have any crayons at my Mom’s.”

I have a hunch that more than crayons followed Lily back home yesterday.  That box was full of the magical feeling of shared joy and the affirmation of a child’s delight in something as simple as coloring.  And I have a hunch that the grown-up children who inscribed all their work with dedications to one another will have color on their own fridges today — and maybe in their hearts as well.  Eyes are twinkling all over town — all because Lily brought the crayons.