Sunday Gratitude: Smiles

Yesterday was a fairly typical spring weekend day for the Owl: a morning walk in the woods listening to the conversations and trills of red-winged blackbirds and catbirds, a run with a friend, a conversation with neighbors at the end of the driveway, baseball and soccer games with the Owlets, and a bonus celebration of first communion with friends. And yet, it was a day better than most of the last spring days. No, it wasn’t the hot sun: it was the smiles.

The mask order in Massachusetts has been lifted by Governor Baker, and kids playing sports are largely freed of wearing masks on the fields. As I watched a friend’s kid round first and safely beat the throw at second, I caught his fleeting happy smile of “I did it” as he came to a dusty stop, and then the giant grin to the cheering teammates on the bench. A week ago, those two very different smiles would have been hidden either fully by a mask, or partially by the droopy look that teenagers achieve in both masks and pants.

Meeting a new neighbor without masks means I could see that happy pride smile as she looked down as the wobbly toddler. I could feel myself smiling in sympathetic joy–while I’m far from having toddlers, I remember the daily changes and wonders. The communion party netted a funny smirk from a friend’s brother–I don’t even remember the conversation, but I noted the quick curl of the sardonic smile because it has been so long since I’ve seen one on a face that is not in my pod.

My Sunday gratitude: smiles. Every single one. The small ones of reflected joy, the giant humor-filled grins, and the “regular” ones of being happy with your friends and new friends. If there’s another silver lining of the pandemic, it is realizing that no smile is “regular”–each is precious.

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