Over the holidays, some of my online friends and I griped about how much work the holidays have become. "Where did the magic go?," we asked, one after another. In the midst of holiday baking and shopping and wrapping and decorating, I shared that I had rediscovered the magic and hoped they would too some day. You see, selling Christmas to a 2 year old is like stealing candy from an elf. Duncan totally bought the entire myth, from Santa to the reindeer, to the Santa key the jolly old elf used to let himself into our house. He still says the elves made his Matchbook cars and talks about Santa coming "right down that chimney." But I wasn't happy with that answer. It was too easy, and it can't be possible the only people who have Christmas magic live with children between the ages of 2 and 5. I refused to accept that a pre-schooler is the only way.
Then, Martina got stuck in Portland for Christmas. Besieged by storm after storm after storm, ice, snow, and more ice, she was unable to drive to her brother's house for the holidays. She had already been struggling with the decision not to go to her parents in North Carolina. Now, she was alone in an empty apartment, already having entered the holidays depressed, and she said "I don't even have a tree." I couldn't whisk her out of Portland or invite her for dinner, but a tree I could make happen. Pro-Flowers assured me they could get her a two foot tree by Christmas. They didn't...it was just as hard to get INTO the Pacific Northwest as out of it...but Martina was thrilled when it arrived. It wasn't her best Christmas ever, but she had a tree (two trees it turned out), a nativity, and some cookies, and a neighbor took her in for dinner. And she realized that was thankful for everything she did have. Magic.
I'm not writing this to make myself sound good. It can't be a random act of kindness if you talk about it, so my telling the story detracts from my illusionist powers. But my snap decision to do it helped me remember that we all have the power to make magic, every day if we want to. The magic, she thought, doesn't come from a store; the magic, she thought, means a little bit more. Some of it is found in doing kind things for others. Some of it is in making the unexpected happen. The biggest part of it for me, however, was in helping others believe that anything is possible.
So the magic is in a tree delivered by the Fed Ex man on December 26. It's in having Nana and Poppy show up at Grandma and Grandpa's house with Spike the Dinosaur, who was delivered after Christmas with an apologetic letter from Santa. It's in dropping a $20 bill into the Salvation Army bucket - because guess what - it may be cold, but you and I have coats. Pay the toll booth collector for the car behind you. Give your hair dresser a really big tip, just because you can. Send a box of snacks to a college student, who, it turns out, actually needed them because the store was closed. Let that guy cut in front of you in line because, for whatever reason, he needs to get out of the store faster than you. Give a huge smile to the checker at the grocery store because your job is a little more rewarding than hers. This blog entry may be too late to capture the spirit of Christmas, but it's not too late to encourage you to try out your own magic. You can create a whole world of magic between now and December.
You could maybe even send some random acts of Valentines...'tis the season.