I’m not sure if it’s the weather (82° most days this December in Miami) or the fact that I won’t see my mom this Christmas, but a few weeks ago I caught myself feeling very far from the magic of Christmas.
Being a mom means working Christmas, from gingerbread waffles to stuffing stockings to shuffling us all to mass on time. I love our traditions, and I love delighting my little ones, but the actual experience of Christmas for me is, frankly, exhausting.
Couple that with my absolute horror at how corporations have hijacked the holiday from us and are now selling back at a disgusting human cost, and I find it hard to rev up my excitement over spending that feels more greedy than generous. The depths to which our culture sink each season is mind-boggling, depressing, and seemingly completely impossible to curtail.
And then there is the anniversary of Newtown, which we hardly mention because it just hurts too much. Too much to think about at Christmas, but apparently not important enough to pass any meaningful legislation to regulate the guns which now regularly kill our babies.
All of this weighed on my mind one evening when I turned to my husband and made a silly request I knew he couldn’t fulfill:
I need one of those Hallmark Hall of Fame magical Christmas moments, I told him earnestly.
What? He was bewildered. We don’t watch those shows.
I’m just not in the spirit. I wish I was. I do love Christmas and it’s always so magical, but I just don’t feel it now. I need you to do something to shock the bah humbug out of me. I’m not talking expensive presents, but something, something….
I am not married to the most romantic man or the least romantic man. I don’t pine away for grand gestures and feel disappointed by toasters. My husband expresses his love in small ways on a regular enough basis to leave me secure and happy. Sure, I’d love more, but the best part of romance is having it genuinely spring from the heart. Besides, I married the coolest man, and that’s what you get.
The next day he sent me this video on facebook:
A few days earlier I had mentioned how much I love this song. Yes, my darling husband is sweet and sweet on me.
But I still need to find some magic.
As is always the case with happiness, I knew I would have to find it myself. Life is not made-for-TV-movie-moments; it’s not even reality TV. Happiness is a choice and since I couldn’t find it where I was, I needed to change my perspective.
And so I did.
This year I am approaching Christmas as a season, not just an eve and a day.
As usual I will make Christmas magic happen for my little ones. Our home will be filled with the scent of gingerbread and baking cookies. I will break out the glitter and glue and craft until their hearts are content. I will order, unpackage, assemble, electrify, repackage, and wrap all their toys, so they will be ready to play as soon as they are opened. I will make the waffles and whip the cream. I will invite my in-laws over for Christmas dinner. I will read Christmas stories every night and only play Christmas music in my car for a whole month.
That is their magic, and I am happy to give it to them.
I also figured out where to find my magic: watching their Christmas shows.
Honestly, that is the only time when I know that I get to sit down, sit back, and completely bask in the moment. They will be in their teachers’ custody and I won’t have anything pressing that needs to be done. It’s strange how rarely we have the opportunity to simply gaze at our children in awe. There is almost always something happening in the background, food in the oven, homework to complete, a mess in need of tidying, a window of time closing.
And to me, my children are the most magical part of my life.
Their beauty stops me in my tracks. Their ideas leave me breathless. Their existence is nothing short of miraculous. Getting to have a front row seat in their charmed lives is a most astonishing gift.
Tonight, I get to be an audience member.
I write that with reverence, because it’s just as important a role as the performers on stage. Somebody has to clap. Somebody gets to clap. A decade without a boyfriend, a tick-tock biological clock–being an audience member was never guaranteed. I spent many years shining by myself in the spotlight, but I find my cozy seat, right next to Andres’ in the audience section to be most spectacular.
In fact, it’s downright magical.
This is their second show, a Nativity play. Max is a Magi and Jack is a shepherd who asks, Have you checked on the sheep lately? Their first show was a Christmas concert at our town’s festival last Saturday night, so I have already tasted the magic. It is divine!
If you are in similar spirits, please spend a moment asking yourself where you will find magic this holiday season? Move to a different vantage point if you have to. Make it personal; make it real. Find ways to give, but also find a time when you can receive. Believe me, in a year when three people in my life were diagnosed AND CURED of cancer, I know for certain there are countless miracles left in this bleak world of ours.
Now, go find yours,
and have yourself a merry, little Christmas.