Princess Pink opens gifts, using both hands. The wrapping paper doesn’t stand a chance.

I’m in a Mexican restaurant. I’ve been driving. I’m tired. I’m here to enjoy cold beer and something salty.

Earlier, I tried visiting the joint up the road. The place has allegedly good barbecue. I left after three seconds. They had a band that only knew two volume levels: loud, and nuclear holocaust.

So I’m here.

Behind my booth are children. It’s a birthday party. There are at least fifteen. They sit around a long table which is mounding with gifts. They holler and laugh.

A few wear pointy hats. I didn’t know kids wore pointy hats anymore.

My waitress brings my beer, and I overhear all the Top-40 hits of childhood happening behind me.

“Gross, you eat boogers?”

“I know you are, but what am I?”

“My dad could beat up your dad.”

“COOTIES!”

How have we come this far as a civilization, and still not eradicated cooties?

Then, parents hush kids. Children’s voices run quiet. A mother walks to the door and looks through the glass.

“Here she comes,” the woman says to her group. “Get ready.”

There is a pregnant pause. I am holding my beer with both hands, watching the door.

The door opens.

Children scream “Happy Birthday!” loud enough to break stained glass. Then, applause.

The birthday girl is dressed like a princess. She has a diamond tiara, a pink dress with sequins. She has Down syndrome.

Her father helps her to the table, holding her arms. The girl sits and covers her face. She’s blushing.

“YOU GUYS!” she says.

Her smile is bright enough to tear the cotton-picking world in half.

Mexican waiters in colorful sombreros visit her table. They sing. Parents sing. Every able-bodied patron sings. I sing. And for a moment in time we are eight years old again.

Princess Pink opens gifts, using both hands. The wrapping paper doesn’t stand a chance.

“Tell her what gift you gave her,” the princess’ father says to a freckled girl. “She has trouble with her eyes, sweetie.”

“I got you a LEGO set,” Freckles says.

“THANKYOUSOMUCHILOVELEGOS!”

A small boy approaches. He hands the princess a small box. Her Majesty opens it in under 2 nanoseconds.

“It’s a mood ring,” the boy says. “It sorta tells how you’re feeling.”

“A RING? ARE YOU ASKING ME TO MARRY YOU!? BECAUSE, YES, I WILL MARRY YOU!”

Another girl hands the princess a package. The princess unwraps it and stares at it.

“It’s a book I made you,” the girl explains. “It’s about all our adventures together.”

“I LOVE BOOKS! THANK YOU!”

I wish you could see the hug they share.

I finish my beer. I order chicken fajitas. They are bland. When I am through eating, the kid-party is still underway.

I pay my tab at the register. The cashier who rings me up doesn’t speak a lick of English. But it doesn’t matter, she’s doing the same thing I’m doing. Smiling. We smile at each other.

And for the life of me, I wish I had some sort of gift to give the little princess.

But all I have are words.

Happy birthday, Princess.

26 comments

  1. Analee Pinnegar - June 10, 2019 7:25 am

    What a sweet little nothing you wrote about a Princess with Downs- a sweet little nothing about what is real and what is true. A sweet little party for someone who truly understands love! A sweet little reminder of what is important. Thank you for writing every day. It lifts me up! Sweet reminders.

    Reply
  2. Cathi Russell - June 10, 2019 7:41 am

    But what words they are. Thanks for the smile, Sean even at 2:41am!

    Reply
  3. Sue - June 10, 2019 11:16 am

    Compassion, love and being grateful; we all need lessons from the Princess and her Dad.

    Reply
  4. Joe Patterson - June 10, 2019 12:02 pm

    Thanks

    Reply
  5. Carol Heidbreder - June 10, 2019 12:49 pm

    A beautiful scene with lots to offer us if only we will pay attention. You were blessed to see it and we are blessed that you shared it! Many thanks!

    Reply
  6. Donna - June 10, 2019 12:54 pm

    LOL: “… haven’t eradicated cooties…” ILOVEYOURCOLUMNSEAN!!!!!!! Happy Birthday Princess.

    Reply
  7. Beverly Deen - June 10, 2019 12:57 pm

    Please review some of the idioms we Southerners use for daily communication. I am a Floridian now living in Oregon, and can’t use them here. People don’t use them or understand them. Someone ,for example, told me a funny joke. I said,”Carolyn, you are a mess!” She was deeply concerned and said,” Is it my hair????”
    I am a new fan of your writing and it makes me happy Thanks

    Reply
  8. Cathy M - June 10, 2019 12:59 pm

    Oh, what a wonderful way to start the day. How lucky you were to be a casual observer at this happy party. God makes no mistakes. I have a prince who is 16 months old. A grandson. The joy that he continues to bring our family cannot be measured. He has changed the lives of everyone in our family. We simply adore him. I can’t wait to watch him grow. Thank you for this sweet message. I hope the beer was really cold. Have a great week

    Reply
  9. Johnny - June 10, 2019 1:08 pm

    Sometimes “words” are the greatest gift of all. John 1:1 says, ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Words matter. Choose and use them wisely.

    Reply
  10. Dell - June 10, 2019 1:20 pm

    Happy tears on a Monday….what better way to start a day! Thanks for your musings.

    Reply
  11. Connie Havard Ryland - June 10, 2019 1:47 pm

    Lordy. Sweet tears this morning. Wherever you are, happy birthday Princess.

    Reply
  12. Chasity Davis Ritter - June 10, 2019 1:58 pm

    Even a happy one like this has me crying making my breakfast taste salty. What a beautiful moment you witnessed. I know you always talked about being the chubby kid who didn’t think he would amount to much but God gave you eyes wide open to see the beauty in the world. A heart big enough to feel it, a brain capable of understanding it and words glorious words to share it all with us. Thank you Sean for the birthday gift. Happy birthday Princess.

    Reply
  13. Marilyn - June 10, 2019 2:24 pm

    What a sweet reminder to look, and really see what is going on around us! Thank you for writing each and every day so that we may start our day on a positive note. God bless you and the little Princess.

    Reply
  14. Pat - June 10, 2019 2:32 pm

    Amen! Happy birthday Princess!

    Reply
  15. Shelton A. - June 10, 2019 2:34 pm

    You gave her the gift of your singing (joining the whole group)-if you think about it, that’s a wonderful gift. God bless the Pink Princess and her family.

    Reply
  16. Bobbie - June 10, 2019 2:47 pm

    I read your words each morning, and altho I’m anxious to know how the story will end, I also don’t want it to end. I’ve been told that’s the greatest compliment one can give a writer. Today’s was just beautiful, Sean…it so tells of your deep compassion for others. It is as much about you as it is the little Princess. Something else occurred to me this morning. I cannot read your story without reading the comments. They at times have a story all their own and I realize once again the impact of your writing on all of us. Tears and smiles blended together…a vivid reminder of what’s truly important.
    God bless you.. and God bless that little princess❤️

    Reply
    • Barbara Parker - July 12, 2019 2:06 am

      💕

      Reply
  17. Linda Moon - June 10, 2019 2:59 pm

    Your words are gifts to all of us who read them. There’s a special Down Syndrome Prince in our family who is loved by all who ever met him!

    Reply
  18. Jack Darnell - June 10, 2019 3:07 pm

    So, now I know you speak my language, you know ‘hollar’ and ‘She doesn’t speak a ‘lick’ of English!
    Good story, I woulda left the first BBQ place also.
    From
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  19. JoNell Kirkland - June 10, 2019 6:39 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  20. Beth Smith - June 10, 2019 8:08 pm

    You capture the very essence of life, and your words are so vivid that I am right there with you!

    Reply
  21. Darla - June 10, 2019 8:58 pm

    Your words are a gift. Thank you!!

    Reply
  22. rick - June 11, 2019 2:38 am

    Wonderful. Thank you

    Reply
  23. Debbie - July 11, 2019 9:27 am

    ❤❤❤

    Reply
  24. Grace - July 11, 2019 2:01 pm

    I love your work Sean and I’m struck by the lovely description of your gifts by Chasity.

    Reply
  25. Sam Seetin - July 11, 2019 9:41 pm

    This is your new blessed normal, stay humble and don’t be stampeded owing the attention that comes with fame. Avoid spreading your wampum too thin to meet loving yet irrational fan or publisher expectations. Avoid sinusoidal regression to the mean.

    Reply

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