For any of you who also follow my family tree blog, (or happen also to be, umm, related to me!) then you know that over the last few years I’ve enjoyed learning the details of certain ancestors’ lines of descent from the Medieval Kings of England and France. Well this past weekend I finally got to capitalize on those drops of royal blood (“drops” is overstating it: although by a non-royal route I’m 11th cousins with Queen Elizabeth II, the last King among my ancestors was Edward III, widely regarded as quite a king indeed, but that doesn’t change the fact that dude was born 700 years ago. So maybe “shadows of the mist of former drops” would be more accurate.)
ANY-way…I got to get my Royal on because Saturday night I had to escort my daughter to the Princess Ball, a fundraising dance for her girl-scout troop!
She had chosen a dress that was too big, so a friend (a rather GOOD friend, I might add! ;-) who’s a pro seamstress “took it in” here and there, added some drawstrings on the back and created a velvet, satin-lined and fur-trimmed cloak complete with a clasp that was effectively the Princess’s initial.
I asked my daughter if she had any vision for my attire, and she requested I wear a top hat if possible. Wouldn’t you know that the same friend fixing the dress had a gray top hat that matched my suit. That idea led me to the notion of also adding the little touch of one of those sashes that the regal types wear. (Before asking for the Princess’s approval, I had to learn what was up with those sashes, anyway, so I read up on it. The sashes worn by royalty identify their membership in different orders — tres exclusive honorary clubs — for instance, the blue sash we see the British Royals wearing is of the Order of the Garter, thus Princes Phillip, Charles and William are “Knights of the Garter”; the Order was founded by none other than our shared ancestor King Edward III. Nice! However, if I was going to pretend to be a member of a chivalric order, my inner history geek insisted on a modicum of accuracy, or at least verisimilitude in keeping with the details of this particular fantasy, ie, the Princess Ball. The invitation and other promo materials for the Ball featured a picture of that most castley of castles, Neuschwanstein, which is in what was once known as Bavaria, ie, southern Germany. And Bavarian royalty — like the crazy-as-a-loon King Ludwig II who built that castle — wear the sash of the Order of St. Hubert. A red sash. Thus I ironed a nice red silk sash I happen to have.
I asked my daughter’s opinion, and she was into it! Yay! (I hate to iron in vain! lol)
Like the other dads, I knew my role and was more than content in obliging. So I danced when she so desired (which was more often than not), and I kept her cup of fizzy punch full. And yes, when she pushed her piece of chocolate cake toward me and said, “You eat the frosting, daddy,” what could I do but fulfill her wish?
Did she enjoy it? Holy smokes! She was virtually intoxicated with excitement. Since she was a baby she’s had the same exact expression on her face when she is just thrilled to the tee. And I watched that face zoom around the lovely ballroom in conga lines, playing tag, rushing to the dance floor to share her unbridled excitement with at first any of the other girls, and then her friends as they arrived.
After a few failed attempts at “capturing the moment” (taking action shot pictures as she danced) I just sat back and dug it. But then when I looked through the pix I’d taken, what I’d thought was just another inscrutable blur jumped out at me. Somehow, one of those funny little artifacts of light happens to be a glimpse of the spirit of pure joy that inhabited my Princess that night.
And though this next one is also much more blurry than is ideal <sigh> the real and gen-yoo-ine smile of joy that saves the whole world and for which I (or any parent, really) would sell the world if necessary in order to inspire it — that look is again captured in this picture, below. (There’s just no comparison for me between a canned smile when it’s picture time and the real deal, elusive when kids know the picture’s being taken.)
Regardless of one dad’s attempts to share pictures of it, she was veritably erupting with a joy much and richly deserved, a joy infectious to all, free, happy, soft and lovely.
Thanks, universe, for my Princess.