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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Magic

If you’ve been out and around much at all the last few weeks, you’ve noticed it. It puts a smile on your face, a lilt in your voice, and a bounce to your step. It usually appears around Thanksgiving and unfortunately, lingers only a few weeks.

It is as warm as the smiling sun overhead, as solid as the ground at our feet, and as satisfying as a warm fire on a frigid night.

I call it the Christmas Magic.

Okay, so that’s corny, as in lame, but you can’t deny that in the last few weeks, most folks seem to be just a tad bit more jolly, a tiny bit more patient, and a teeny bit more cheerful.

That magic is intangible, beyond one’s touch, but, mysteriously, still as palpable as Aunt May’s homemade rum and bourbon fruitcake.

Caught up in the joyful ambiance of Christmas, I, as many, wish that intangible wisp of enchantment could last year around.

The pragmatic side of our psyches insist it’s only natural that after the first of the year to wake up with the disturbing feeling that something is missing. And no, I’m not talking about the hole in our bank accounts.

We’ve just spent days and weeks in anticipation of Christmas Day and then New Years. And because we were so anticipating the gaiety and cheerfulness of the holidays, once they are behind us, there comes a natural let down.

But there is no reason for that Christmas magic that fills the Season of Giving to fade away just because the calendar changes.

As I crept up the ladder of age, I came to realize why my father and mother always replied ‘I don’t need a thing,’ when asked what they wanted for Christmas.

Sound familiar.

At my age, I don’t need anything thing. I get a kick out of seeing the delight sparkle in the eyes of those to whom I’ve given what I could afford.

If you’ll look around, you’ll see that despite the problems we face, usually our blessings outweigh them. Might not seem like it at the moment, but Santa Claus is with us year around, or can be if we make the effort.

Don’t think so?

Recently, I read a delightful article in Newsweek Online of a mother’s concern that her seven-year-old would learn there was no Santa Claus.

Over the years, being the loving parent she obviously is, she had enhanced the magic of Christmas for her son by encouraging him to help with the decorations, add to the crèche, bake cookies, and yes, even spread reindeer food in the snow to light the way for Santa.

Can’t you just imagine the excitement coursing through that little guy’s veins? At the end of the article, she expressed relief that he had managed this Christmas still believing in old Saint Nick, but she had the feeling that sometime before next year, he would learn the truth.

She ended the article with the observation that despite what he might learn, as long as he believes, he will enjoy that special magic year around.

Perhaps that is where so many of us go wrong. Somewhere along the way we stop believing in Santa Claus just because those beliefs fly in the face of logic. I have a couple good friends who have reached the four score and ten mark who believe in Santa Claus, and I kid you not, nowhere will you find a couple jollier or more cheerful gentlemen. They brim with the anticipation of life and the excitement of each passing day.

F.P. Church said it much better than I in his response to Virginia O’Hanlon when she queried the New York Sun on the existence of Santa Claus. ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

There was not a soul in the world who could say that Santa did not exist if they witnessed the sparkle in the eyes and the broad grin on the faces of my two youngest grandsons, Keegan and Mikey, as they hop on their scooters or fire up their space rockets on Christmas morning.

That same excitement is no different in homes around the world. It’s just that during the Christmas holidays the love for one’s fellow man is even more pronounced.

But if you look, if you pay attention, you’ll see proof of Santa’s existence throughout the year. Perhaps it isn’t as noticeable among the stories of mayhem and murder, but it exists.

You’ll never convince that single mother there’s no Santa Claus after her son was given a new wheelchair by the Shriner’s to replace his dilapidated one. And what about the little girl who won a raffle at school and put aside her own wish for a beautiful little doll so she could instead select a hand-sewn blanket she knew her invalid mother admired?

No Santa Claus?

In Minneapolis, a parent was hit with unexpected car repair bills just before the holidays, wiping out the family’s Christmas budget. When she went to pick up the vehicle, a stranger had paid the bill. You think that family doubts the existence of Santa Claus?

And who is it that drops a $1700. gold Kruggerrand in the Salvation Army’s pot every year? Who is it paying off Wal Mart and K Mart layaways around the country?

No one can tell me that the spirit of Christmas is not alive throughout the year. It’s just that in the midst of our hustle and bustle, it sometimes takes a back seat, but it is always there, waiting to be dusted off.

As long as the human heart is filled with understanding and compassion, there will always be a Santa Claus, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

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