Friday, December 10, 2010

Flaming Christmas Robins

In Blogville, when another blogger leaves a comment on one of your posts, it is good form, if you have not yet "met" the blogger, to visit her blog and leave a comment of your own. I have met some wonderful friends that way. That is how I recently met Stacey, a young mother in England, who blogs at Stay at Home Mummy.

Yesterday, Stacey wrote about holiday traditions, listing some of her favorites. As I was skimming over her list this morning, one in particular caught my eye: "Hide the robin - buy a Christmas robin with wire feet and he hides around the room, children have to come into the dark room with a torch and find him - a tradition when we were little!" [Emphasis added.]

I thought about that for several minutes. A torch? Children in dark rooms with torches? I was thinking of a stick with cloth wrapped on the end and set on fire. It took me more than a few moments to realize Stacey was talking about the children using flashlights, not firebrands.

While I am now convinced that England is not at risk to go up in smoke from robin-seeking children (although the riots over tuition hikes may indicate that other problems are smoldering), the image of entering a dark room with a flaming stick to look for an ornament has stuck with me all morning.

When my boys were young, they regularly played a self-invented game, called, I believe, "Dark." It was a simple game: players gathered in Sam's room (which was big) at night, all the blinds were closed, all the stuffed animals in the house were heaped in piles in the room, Ben or Sam shut the door and turned off the lights, and everyone started firing pillows and animals while running around the room, leaping onto the beds (if the player was lucky enough to know the room layout) and crashing into furniture (if one was not so lucky). The game was played at breakneck speed, with lots of screaming and shouting. It went on until either (a) someone got hurt enough to call for a parent or (b) everyone agreed to a mutual truce and turned the lights back on.

[Note: For those of you who are wondering what I was thinking allowing them to play this game, realize I grew up with only brothers and had only sons. So this game made perfect sense to me. When they got much older, Ben and Sam played a variation of it, using air pellet guns instead of stuffed animals, in the empty second floor space in the downtown building in which we lived.]

So the notion of seeking robins with lit torches holds a peculiar charm and fascination for me. It is a tradition (my version, that is) that Ben and Sam would have wholeheartedly embraced when they were little. They probably still would, for that matter. It lends a whole new meaning to the French carol, "Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle - Un flambeau!" 

I can see my boys now, torches in hand, running through the house, looking for the robin in the dark, calling out for Christmas. 


Ellen said...

I REALLY need a "like" button on Blogger! Merry Christmas to you and all our blogging friends!

stayathomemummy said...

Hi April, I left a comment on my post - you really made me laugh when I read your comment. I didn't even think when I posted it that it would come across as a flaming torch! I can assure you my parents were not that irresponsable! Still makes me smile now! Stacey

Nell Tomassen Reboh said...

What a refreshing read.

"I thought about that for several minutes. A torch? Children in dark rooms with torches?" I definitely would have had the same thought, :-D.

The "Dark" game sounds exhillarating. As a mom of three boys I get it. How lucky your boys are that you let them play these kinds of games. Here's some research backed highlights on why this kind of play provides an essential life and learning skill boost.

And the title is supurbe. Pulled me right in.

I'll link this post to my blog as well. Thanks for sharing!

Nell Tomassen Reboh said...

Adding the link to the National Institute for Play may help: :-D