Monday, December 19, 2011


Excuse me for getting a bit schmaltzy for a moment. I promise it won't last long.

As Christmas fast approaches we tend to use the word "magic" to describe the season but have we ever really thought about why?

Twinkling lights? Well, they're not magic -- it's AC/DC current flowing through wires providing power to tiny LED bulbs or tiny incandescent bulbs all colored in various shades.

Is it the tinsel? That's not magic either -- it's simply strips of colored, metallic fibers.

Ornaments? Trees? Again -- not magic. Metals, plastics, fabrics, pine (if you're so inclined; otherwise it's just more metals and plastics), etc.

Is it that all of these things combine to lend a "magical" appearance to things? Again, not really -- it looks pretty (if you've done it right) but not necessarily magical.

So maybe it's Santa Claus? except, well...... Santa's not exactly magical either.

Except that he is.

Sort of.

About ten years ago my somewhat scattered family ended up at my sister and brother-in-law's place in Virginia where they were living at the time. For me it was a very hectic time and even after I got out there things continued to be hectic. We ended up skipping Christmas Eve services as my two year-old nephew had to go to the emergency room with a high fever. The family didn't get back from the emergency room until about midnight with the diagnosis of walking pneumonia and an ear infection... poor little guy. He was plunked in bed and then had to begin the orgy of wrapping the last gifts and putting other things together so when he came down the next morning "Santa" would have visited.

So somewhere around 1:00 in the morning I found myself sitting on the floor, putting together a play table and chairs set and I paused and looked up for a moment. My mother was on the couch wrapping, my father and sister were bickering softly over the batteries for a toy train, my bother in law was putting some thing together with a booklet of instructions, a pile of screws, nuts and bolts, and a small assortment of tools and Enya's Greatest Hits CD was playing on the stereo (yeah, we were going for 'mellow' over 'festive' at that point). And suddenly I realized -- when my nephew came downstairs the next morning to his eyes something magical would have occurred. Santa would have come and left all these presents. He wouldn't know that "Santa" was his auntie, grandma, grandpa, mother and father -- just as my mother and father had been "Santa" for my sister and I.

In that moment *I* had become Santa Claus and more than that -- I had become "magic". I was doing something that, to my nephew's understanding, could not have been accomplished through anything else other than magic.

Now obviously my nephew's grown up and he no longer believes in Santa Claus but that doesn't stop me from remembering the years I spent as "Santa" and as a magical being. And it also doesn't stop me from still being magic despite the fact that my nephew no longer believes.

Any time I do something to help someone out it can be "magic". Whenever someone in need of any sort gets the help they need when they need it can seem serendipitous or "magical". We all can be the right people in the right place at the right time to provide just a little bit of "magic" in someone else's life and we can do it year round.

A lot of people think that this means the giving of money or food and, with the economy the way it is, they may sadly shake their heads and say they simply can't afford it this year. But there are more ways to be magical than with just cash or canned goods. Look inside -- -do you perhaps have a talent you can offer? Do you sew or knit or do car repair? Can you offer that talent to a person or a group in need? Do you simply have time and are in good enough health to offer yourself -- can you help stock shelves at a local food pantry? Or sort donations to a local charity? If you do not have a talent or much time can you simply be a listening ear to a family member or friend who maybe just needs someone to talk to? Is there someone you've been meaning to try to reconnect with? Can you reach out to them?

"Magic" sometimes needs a little work. "Santa" may be able to deliver toys all in one night but 'Santa Stressfactor' and her family had to stay up late and work their butts off to make the magic happen. Magic sometimes requires a little effort and a little work but it's worth it. And more to the point, we have the ability to keep the magic flowing all throughout the year -- long after the tinsel is put away, the ornaments have been boxed up for another year, the lights come down, and the tree gets recycled.

I'm reminded of the story I was told when I joined the Brownies years and years ago... Two little girls were visiting a relative and that relative related to them the legend of the magical beings known as Brownies who would help out homemakers by helping to keep their houses and farms clean. The little girls wanted to see a Brownie so they were told to go into the woods to where a small pond was, turn around three times and look into the water and they would see a Brownie. The little girls did as bid but when they looked into the water they saw..... Their own reflections.

This year I encourage you to be Brownies, fairies, elf lords, elves, Santa and Mrs. Clauses, Jinn -- be anything you want but be the magic in someone's life -- even if it's someone you've never met and will never meet.

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