Saturday, December 15, 2007

Finding the Magic of Christmas

By Keith Fisher

Christmas has always been a magical time. In this day of so much stifling affluence and abject poverty, it sometimes helps to remember Christmases from the past. Did you ever notice that Christmas was always happier and more magical in our childhood than it is today? Or was it?

One of my favorite Christmases was the year a group of us slept in sleeping bags around the Christmas tree on Christmas night. It was during a time before the ease of freeways, and rather than drive home on icy, two lane, roads, my family made a pilgrimage visit. We stayed over at one house or another and Christmas was at my house that year.

I received a cool penlight in my stocking that morning so I spent most of the night turning it off and on, driving everyone crazy. There were board games, great food, and family togetherness. There was also, the snore of my uncle and aunt the next morning as I sneaked past them to retrieve my clothes from my bedroom. "You just don’t go into the bedroom where a married couple are sleeping," mother said. "Especially if they are newlyweds." Now that I am older, I know she was right.

All in all, that Christmas went down as one of the best two-day events of my life.

Years later, when I was in high school, I tried to rekindle that magic by inviting my recently divorced aunt and her family to stay with us for Christmas. This was after Freeways and they only lived thirty miles away.

My mother was surprised they accepted my invitation, and she was nervous to have the houseguests she wasn’t expecting. I was somewhat disappointed—it wasn’t the same—the magic was different.

In my memory, the earlier Christmas was wonderful, magical, and memorable. I ask myself, why can’t Christmas be like that these days? When I talked to my parents about the holidays of my childhood, I discovered they remember things differently. I got a penlight in my stocking because it was cheap and my parents were struggling, and my mother was frazzled over the logistics of taking care of so many guests. My parents don’t talk about the magic I remember.

We often say Christmas is for the kids, and the magic is in the eyes of your children, and that is true, but what if you don’t have kids? As adults, are we doomed to a life of checkout counter battles, shoveling snow, and cursing our fellowman?

Then there was the year my daughter was born. She was two months old at Christmas time. We placed her in an oversized Christmas stocking and took pictures. We joked that Santa had brought her and she was our Christmas present that year.

The year, my wife had emergency surgery to save her life was a magical Christmas too. I spent money we didn’t have on a Christmas tree. She didn’t like it, but I did my best to make Christmas magical for us. I was just grateful she was still around.

You see it’s a matter of perspective. Children don’t obsess with worries like parents do. To a kid, there is magic in almost everything, especially Christmas. Like the year my daughter was born, we can draw magic from special events and circumstances, but I see adults who thoroughly enjoy Christmas. Between the giving, the singing, the good will to men, and worshipping HE, who gave us Christmas, they are convinced it’s the happiest time of the year.

So, I challenge all of us to find the magic. Have the time of your lives—cut loose, and succumb to the joy. It’s tapping you on the shoulder. Just turn around and take a look. If for no other reason, be glad you made it through another year. As for me, I’m trying to look at it through the eyes of the child I once was.

Good luck in your writing, and Merry Christmas.


Tristi Pinkston said...

You know, the kids see the magic in the gifts and in the love that is shared, but the adults see the magic in man's love for man and in feeling the Spirit during the holiday. There's enough magic for everyone -- it just takes a different form as we get older.

C. L. Beck said...

Nice thoughts. And I agree with Tristi in that the magic is still there--just in a different form. (Adults appreciate the magic of a cup of cocoa or eggnog and a few stolen minutes watching the snow fall or the Christmas tree lights twinkle.)

You've given us good thoughts and memories to ponder.

Keith Fisher said...

thanks for the comments. yes, thats what I tried to say, the joy and magic is there, but it must be retrieved. Merry Christmas.