Joy. That feeling of intense happiness and gratification we experience when we discover something new or thrilling, or achieve something meaningful to us. I experienced joy just this past weekend.   My husband and I surprised our daughter for her 8th birthday by transforming her room into a fairy garden while she was away at grandma’s house.

Fairy garden room | credit Julia Liljegren

For two days my husband and I focused on realizing the transformation (which we called Operation Fairy Garden since, due to the surprise nature, it needed to be orchestrated with military precision if we were going to complete the mission before our daughter returned home on Sunday).

Our daughter had no idea we were even thinking of “reinventing” her room now, though she has talked about a fairy garden bedroom for well over a year.
The Operation came off without a hitch. When she opened the door to her room, she was so surprised and happy she could hardly control herself. She was like someone on The Price is Right running down the aisle… beyond happy, almost crying, definitely stunned and repeating “I can’t believe this is mine.”

Joy – hers from having a dream come true and mine for making it possible.

Joy in Nature

My daughter has always loved nature. Like fairies, it holds magic for her.  Outdoors is the place she goes to set her imagination free, or to be wild and boisterous  as she burns off pent up energy from a long day at school, and where she often does one of her favorite things of all – sing. Nature speaks to her, touches her and helps her heart take wing. She loves the beauty it offers, its variety of colors, shapes and sizes. She appreciates its many life forms, too. Nature brings her peace.  And, like her new bedroom, it brings her joy.

My daughter enjoying nature in our backyard | credit Julia Liljegren
She does not consciously know it, but her time outdoors is helping her to grow – little by little, day by day, like a garden. As a parent I am very aware of the importance of nurturing her connection with nature, and pay great attention to tending to it – whether by encouraging her time outside, reading together about wild animals, or just sharing a seat by the window as we watch a squirrel gather foodfor the winter near the big tree in our backyard.  My actions are simple, yet have immeasurable impact on us both. For watching her drink in joy from nature and grow from the experience fills me with joy, too.

That sense of shared joy brings us back to Operation Fairy Garden. Before the results of our secret mission were revealed to her, we had our daughter read aloud the sign we had placed on her bedroom door. It read: “Happy Birthday.  May your garden always grow.”  Together we’ll make sure it does.

Ways to Share Fairies and Nature With Your Family: