On Magic

I got very sick at Christmas and never finished writing this post at the time. But since I just took my tree down last week, perhaps it’s not too late for one last word about the moment when magically, a newborn baby is the most important being in the world!

I’ve always loved Christmas. As a child it seemed a truly magical time. And I mean literally magical. All the ordinary rules and routines of the world were, for that brief moment, completely suspended. My dad didn’t go to work or night school and just hung out with us, a rare treat, all cozily crowded into the living room. We didn’t have to get dressed out of our new flannel nighties all day, except in fancy clothes that I loved for dinner. Our access to food was always tightly controlled by my mother, but now we were allowed to eat all the normally forbidden foods –candies, cookies, chocolates– without even asking: they were just laid out for the taking. The division between indoors and outdoors was transgressed by bringing nature, an entire tree that reached the ceiling, into the house. Even the rules of night and day were broken when we were woken at midnight on Christmas Eve (a French-Canadian tradition) to open the gifts that Santa had left just moments before. And the presents: there was no other possible accounting for this abundance than Santa’s magic: these were years when my parents could never have afforded such a luxury as new toys and stocking stuffers for all four of us children—or so I believed. The only logical explanation was magic.

Even the stories and the music were all about magic. My favourite was (and still is) How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the original animated TV special true to the Dr. Seuss story (the later feature film with Jim Carrey is to me an abrasive monstrosity missing all the tender charm of the original). And we would gather near the beautifully lit and decorated tree, the other lights dimmed and special candles lit, to listen to A Paul Reid Christmas, a radio show of sentimental Christmas stories and music. How I loved those stories! The Littlest Angel, one of the first stories that made me confront mortality, made me cry most of all. What was especially clear in all the stories and songs was that what made them magical, as the Grinch demonstrated when his heart grew three sizes that day, was love.

I figured this Christmas tree was my last one, and since I missed a week of the holidays when I was in the hospital, I wasn’t in a rush to take it down. And then I made the mistake of asking Nathan if he wanted me to leave it up until his return from London in early February. (He had to miss Christmas at home with us again this year.) He said yes, so I was stuck with the tree until he got back last week. We spent our first visit happily undecorating the tree and sweeping up the now crispy branch tips that snapped off as we did so. But I so enjoyed having the tree up all those extra weeks, reminding me of the magic that is really always there.

About susanbriscoe

English teacher, writer
This entry was posted in On Dying and Living and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to On Magic

  1. My favorite Christmas photo is the one of me and Tracey holding you, our newly born sister, beside the tree. We sure were cute. 🙂 The Grinch was my favorite too. I still get a kick out of the lyrics.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen C says:

    Two years ago, my sister decided to leave their Christmas tree (artificial one) up year round. I thought it was a good idea. We didn’t celebrate Christmas before coming to U.S. (Most people in Taiwan didn’t celebrate Christmas at that time). In a way, we have a lot of years to catch up 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We don’t celebrate Christmas but I do agree that holiday celebrations are the best … I still recall visiting friends and family for lunch and dinner and getting and giving envelopes with money….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thirty-one years ago I asked my neighbor to help me remove my Christmas tree from my living room in mid-January. A year later, we got married. For the past couple of years, instead of putting up our fake tree, we strung lights and placed ornaments on our large tree-like house plants. This year (in January) we took down the ornaments, but left the colored lights on the plants.

    Many of my happiest childhood memories are from Christmas.

    I am glad you and your son were able to share a special moment taking down your Christmas tree. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Perpetua says:

    What a way to celebrate Christmas in a hospital. In a way, I’m glad that you received the care you needed. Yes, it is magical to receive gifts knowing that it was hard for your parents financially. I don’t think it’s a mistake to keep the tree longer than necessary unless it was a fire hazard. It’s wonderful memory to undecorate the Christmas tree you leave behind for Nathan for your last Christmas on Earth. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Susanne Hornig says:

    Don’t know why that story made me cry 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. shoppers says:

    I’m glad you finished that. It was really fun to see you guys last week!

    Liked by 1 person

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