I really do.
I know why too.
It’s that transcendent feeling that finds me when I least expect it. It is beyond experience and religion for me.
It’s what makes my nose tingle and my eyes fill up when Celine Dion sings of falling on my knees and hearing the angel voices, though the observant catholic in me fell away long ago.
Recently, someone I care about was lamenting that they were not ‘feeling it’ this Christmas season. They had seen the photos and columns here, and concluded that I was happy from the first mall Christmas decorations through Christmas Day (which, as far as I can tell would mean that I was joyously happy from about August through the end of December, based on how early the malls seem to put out Christmas stuff these days).
I assured her that this was not true.
She didn’t believe me.
I explained that I usually write about fairly funny things, and that I wasn’t necessarily smiling every second of every day. I said that would be rather impossible.
She said that was hard to believe.
She said she couldn’t even imagine me ever yelling at my kids.
I offered for her to talk to my precious cherubs, as any one of them could come to my defense.
Then I realized I was defending my ability to be snarky, and found that funny.
So, because it is Christmas Eve, and because it is a rather unsettling thought that there are those people out there that are living the perfect holiday, with the perfect families, perfect food, perfect decorations, perfect gifts (and perfect dogs that don’t eat said food, decorations, gifts…and families) – and that you think I might be one of them – I offer a very real situation from Friday, December 20th.
Scene: Me. In my car. I’m driving home after leaving early in the morning to do some final Christmas shopping. I’m happy, and singing. I think I was singing along with the Goo Goo Dolls’ Slide.
I round the corner on our street and approach the driveway. I pull in.
And hit the brakes.
It looks like a war zone.
Okay, not really. But it looks like maybe a tree has fallen across our driveway because there is sawdust and wood chunks leading from the left part of the yard, across the driveway and over to the right part of the yard.
But it occurs to me that a tree could not have fallen across the driveway, 1. Because there is no tree that really could fall across my driveway, and 2. Because the split rail fence on either side of the driveway isn’t broken (as it would surely be if a tree crashed on top of it).
So I look way to the left and the tree that we need taken down (have called the tree guy a few times) because it split in half last winter and was so dead that we could see through it, was no longer there.
But what was?
A nearly 5 foot high sawn stump and a huge tree that was felled right through my 100-year-old lilac bushes.
So now it looks like a bomb has gone off in my driveway and my lilac bushes are smooshed.
And I’m expecting between 26 and 29 people at my house the next day for what we call ‘Family Christmas’ in Dingleville.
Which I like to be perfect, as I have ‘the Christmas House’ (a big responsibility…huge).
And, as I do at least once per holiday season, I spiked.
So I head inside and the first unfortunate being I meet is First Born Son Sam, who is wide-eyed before I even open my mouth (because he can see my face).
And I say something like, “What the *bleep* happened?!”
And he says, “What?!”
And I say, “With the tree at the end of the driveway!”
And he says, “I dunno. It’s been like that for days.”
And I say, “No it hasn’t!”
And he says, “Well, I think it has.”
And I say, “No!”
And my nearly perfect husband comes around the corner hauling the vacuum cleaner because he is nearly perfect and is cleaning in preparation for tomorrow.
And I say, “What the *bleep* happened?!”
And he looks very scared and says, “What?!”
And I say, “With the tree!”
And he says, “Oh, it isn’t that bad.”
But he still looks scared, though he is trying to sound convincing.
And I say, “Oh my Gawd it looks like *bleep*”
And he says, “Well, they’ll come back.”
And I say, “When?! I have 26 – 29 people arriving tomorrow for Family Christmas!”
And he says, “Well, not by then.”
And I say, “Oh my Gawd! It looks like *bleep*!” (in case he didn’t understand how I felt about it the first time I said it).
And he said, “It’s not that bad.”
And I completely lose it.
Because I am stressed and because I have not a minute extra to spare to apply to tasks I have not already planned to accomplish.
Like, you know, nuclear war zone clean up.
“That’s it!” I say, “Cancel Family Christmas!”
And he says he knows I’m not serious.
And I say I am serious.
And he says that we are not going to cancel Family Christmas.
And I say, “Fine! Then you do all the work!”
And he says fine.
And then I say something that will go down in Dingleville lore:
“I am serious! And I’m leaving! And you will have to go shop for all the food because I’m leaving and I’m not even going to take my grocery list with me because that’s how serious I am!!”
And even when I said that, and was determinedly stalking down the hall toward the door, I realized that was a pretty dang funny threat. And less than 10 seconds later, as I was standing beside my car, I knew I didn’t mean it even if I did have a front yard that looked like Walter White had used fulminated mercury to take down my tree (C’mon who didn’t learn a little chemistry from Breaking Bad?).
So my nearly perfect husband called the tree guy and he came out and things got cleaned up as best they could be before the snow melts and spring comes along.
And not one guest even mentioned the remnants of the explosion when they tumbled into the house the next day.
And you know what, the next day was probably not perfect either. What day is? But it was loud and there was laughing and eating and music and stories.
Magic isn’t perfection.
Magic is the feeling that what feels perfectly impossible is possible.
Perhaps what magic is, is hope.
The hope that life is so much more than the everyday of tough jobs or lost jobs or strained relationships or family squabbles.
The hope that loneliness and pain are temporary, and will one day be replaced by contentment and laughter.
The hope that your child truly believes in Santa Claus for just one more year (and watching him or her do just that).
And magic, I think, is the hope that the world’s greatest stories are true.
Including the one of a child.
Born in a manger.
Under a star so bright that it guided wise men and kings to his side.
Because I’m telling you, if this lapsed Catholic ever hears the angel voices, I will indeed fall on my knees.
And my eyes will fill with tears.
To the magic.
Thanks for readin’.
* As always, you can come on over to Just Ponderin’s facebook page to comment or just hang out.