‘Amazing’ Is in the Eye of the Beholder


by guest blogger Renee James, humorist and blogger

Many things sound so much better in theory than they turn out to be in reality. Unfortunately, you usually can’t tell if that’s the case until you’re in the midst of the experience. Then it begins to dawn on you that, in fact, you’re in a bleak situation, or you at least made a dumb decision, and things are not as amazing as you pictured.

This was definitely true about a day many years ago when my boys and I spent several hours standing in line (the likes of which I’ve not seen since) to meet the Green Power Ranger at a local tire and auto business. I can kind of laugh about it now, but we weren’t laughing then.

We drove by the business holding this event every day. Once the boys heard the news about the Power Ranger appearance, their energy and enthusiasm for meeting one of their heroes was unleashed. Every time we passed the parking lot, they’d check it out for some sign of the rapture to come. When a tent appeared, along with a sign depicting the Green Ranger, they practically leaped out of their booster seats with anticipation.

How I drew the lucky straw on this adventure is still unclear. But it was on a Saturday, and we do have an institution called Penn State football; that probably factored into the decision about which parent would share the joy. So there we were, three boys who couldn’t have been much more the 4, 4 (twins), and 5 years old—maybe even younger—along with their mother, who’d planned to be in and out of there in about half an hour. Just the four of us—and another thousand kids with their moms or dads.

It took us the better part of four hours to inch around the building, getting closer and closer to the tent that concealed the GPR. For long gasps of time, the line simply did not move. At all. There came a point when I wondered if we should leave or stick it out. I figured if the boys could stand it, I could, too.

We were well into hour three before we stepped through the flaps of the tent to behold the superhero himself. By now, the boys had practically collapsed with exhaustion. Their dispositions held up remarkably well—better than mine, in fact— but their little legs were simply worn out from standing, mostly immobile, for hours.

Lucky for us, we have a Polaroid photo commemorating (see above) the event. Three boys, clearly thrilled and proud, surround a Green Power Ranger sitting in an armchair looking not unlike a green Santa, with what appears to be one of the auto center’s spare tires under his costume. It was comical. All this time, effort, and promotional energy—not to mention a thousand excited young fans—and this was the payoff? I guess a chubby green ranger was better than no ranger at all.

A few months later, it was a Power Ranger Christmas Miracle at our house, complete with figures, weapons, and genuine leatherette gloves that played the “PR” theme song with the swipe of your hand. The boys insisted on wearing them to church that morning, and I cringed several times as we heard them in concert with Christmas carols.

Fast-forward to 2014. There have been no action figures in our house on Christmas morning for many years. So why do I want to frame that Polaroid and pull it out every year, just to show them, just to remind them…of what? Childhood heroes? Their exuberance? I’m not sure. Maybe to prove that some experiences—even the most highly anticipated—can be unrewarding. To show them that if you expect too much, you will invariably be disappointed? How festive!

But wait just a minute. The picture shows none of that. It looks like three boys who are a combination of excited, slightly in awe, and perhaps a little exhausted. Maybe I have this all wrong. Maybe I pull that picture out to remind me that, although they’re young men, they were once so, so little, with all the joy and excitement children naturally bring to…well…everything. Older now, but the Christmas Miracle these days is that they’re still full of anticipation about what’s to come. They are my treasures, who—among many, many other things—have taught me that (even a lumpy, semi-disappointing, not-quite-as-you-pictured-it, somewhat adjusted) reality, when viewed through a prism of joy, can be every bit as amazing as you imagine it.


Renee A. James works at Rodale Inc. and also wrote an award-winning op-ed column for The Morning Call, the Allentown, Pennsylvania, newspaper, for almost 10 years. Her essays were included in the humor anthology, 101 Damnations: A Humorists’ Tour of Personal Hells (Thomas Dunne Books, 2002), and are also found online at Jewish World Review and The Daily Caller. She invites you to Like her Facebook page, where she celebrates—and broods about—life on a regular basis, mostly as a voice in the crowd that shouts, “Really? You’re kidding me, right?” (or wants to, anyway), and she welcomes your suggestions, comments, and feedback to the mix.


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3 Responses to ‘Amazing’ Is in the Eye of the Beholder

  1. Donna in Delaware December 26, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Aww, they’re so sweet! I suppose you have something there! Even our disappointments (of which I have had many) can still be highly anticipated and somewhat enjoyed, even when we know that they may be harbingers of doom and gloom. When viewed in the manner of a child (which we are no longer) we may still carry that wonder, that hope that things will go well, and give us the happiness and fulfillment that we anticipated. We may have to suffer some things, but in the end, we will prevail if we can just persevere!

    I know, wishful thinking never got us anywhere. Ogden Nash said, “You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.” I’m sure he meant this is in a completely different manner, but I thought I would use it anyway to say that sometimes we should look at life through the eyes of a child, full of wonder, anticipation, excitement and feeling, if not actually knowing, that anything is possible!

    Have a wonderful, safe and highly anticipated great New Year Renee!

  2. Renee December 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Thank you so much, Donna. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday.

    Today (12/28) will always be a difficult day for me – 3 years ago my Mom died and it’s a loss I feel every day, in different ways. Trying to see the memories through a lens of joy, love and support, which I felt from her every moment of my life.

    Thank you again for your kind words of support here and throughout the year.

  3. Donna in Delaware December 28, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Renee, you have my sincerest sympathy, I know how you are feeling. When my mom passed away suddenly at the end of October 2014, it was a shock to the system. I feel that she is still with me. I found myself thinking the other day, just before Christmas, that I have to call her. Then it hit me that she is no longer here, in spirit yes, physically, no. Thanksgiving and Christmas was special to her, especially Christmas, not only for the religious aspect of the holiday, because she loved decorating.

    I have been looking through that lens you speak of, but can’t seem to find anything. I am not feeling the loss too much as of now. As I have said, I feel as though she is still here and in some ways, that is a good thing because I can feel her much better and the loss not so hard.

    People say that it takes time, of course it does, but how much time? It has taken me 30 years for my grandmothers death to ease. Sometimes it doesn’t help, time, but mostly it does.

    I have the feeling that you will be just fine in the years to come. You will seek and find the joy and happiness that your mother’s life brought to you through that lens. You’ll never forget, you’ll always remember and in that remembrance you’ll find yourself smiling, sometimes sadly, but most times joyfully. Then, you’ll have peace.

    Thank you for your kind words and support also. Have a safe and healthy New Year.

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