… on finding the magic each year


I have a tin calendar hanging on my wall.  It’s one of those Christmas countdown calendars, and has a vintage-y image of Santa carefully taking who-knows-what’s-inside gifts from a big sack, and placing them gently under a be-candled Christmas tree.  There are two children asleep beneath the tree, in white pajamas.

In my brain’s projection of this scene, these little cherubs will awaken early in the morning, as the sun rises. Their eyes will twinkle with the light, as it streams through their windows, and they will shriek and holler for their Mom and Dad…

“Come downstairs quick! Santa Came!”

And Mom will build a fire in the fireplace (the one left fire-less the night before so as to not wake up to the smell of scorched velvet and fur), and Dad will head to the kitchen to make coffee.

Then presents will be opened and dreams will be fulfilled and smiles will be shared, and magic will be realized.

No tantrums will be thrown.

There will be plenty of batteries for every toy.

And there won’t be one smudge of soot or jelly or boogers on the cherubs’ sparkling white jammies.

And if people come over later there will be no family drama, no sibling rivalries. Moms in law will hug daughters in law and thank them profusely for being perfect for their sons. Sisters in Law will hug and laugh at even the thought of jealousy or rivalry. Uncles won’t drink too much and make inappropriate jokes. Little Jimmy won’t fart at the table.

Lab Number One won’t vomit on the carpet.

And Lab Number Two won’t gobble it up.

There will be no one to miss, because no one will ever have died, and schedules will allow everyone to make it home.  Weather will keep no one away.

No one will be sick. Not with a cold, not with anything worse.

It will be perfect.


But for me, that would not be perfect at all.

Because it wouldn’t be real.

It’s the multidimensional permutations of real that have created my favorite Christmas memories, and it is the acceptance of imperfection that have me looking forward to every holiday season.


Someone smaHt-ah than me needs to take that one.

I love Christmastime for its magic.

I love that twinkle lights, and the big honkin’ old fashioned colored bulbs from my childhood, sharpen my eyes better than any eyeglass prescription could, helping me see the joy in everything from an excited kid at my town’s post office (mailing his letter to the North Pole), to an elderly couple realizing they are under a mistletoe (and doing something about it).

I love that a good chunk of our planet’s population under 36 inches tall, absolutely believes that – without a doubt – in 15 days time, a jolly man in a red suit will climb into a sleigh pulled by nine (I’m a Rudolf fan) flying reindeer and, through the magic of Christmas (and maybe a little astrophysics) will travel the entire world, to every household, bringing presents to good kids.

My ability to identify with this feeling – with the belief that the impossible is indeed possible – absolutely crushes any issue I have with lines or traffic or piped in holiday music or malls or the politics of Black Friday.

I don’t care.

For me, this time of year is an escape, a suspension of the every day.

To say each Christmas has been or – gasp! – should be ‘perfect’ is just silly.

Someone or something is bound to screw it up if my goal is ‘perfect’.

Can you imagine me aiming for a ‘perfect’ Christmas season? You know the first thing that would happen is that the Nearly Perfect Husband would walk in wearing navy blue shorts, little black ankle socks, and a red checkered long-sleeve flannel shirt with the elbows and buttons missing – instead of the elf suit I ordered him to wear from November 28th through December 25th.  He’d wreck everything on the first day!

Everything you just read above absolutely happened TODAY (except there was no elf costume). The dogs were mortified.

‘Perfect’ is about as welcome as ‘Shoulding’ at Christmastime.

If ever there were a time of year to avoid being ‘should upon’ its this one.  I avoid it at all costs.  If I’m feeling hermit-y, then I’m not coming to your party (and, if you are feeling hermit-y, you don’t have to come to mine. Deal?).

Shoulding crushes magic, and I’m all about the magic (not the bass or the treble).

I was working on math the other day (now you know I’m lying) and I came up with the following formula (I don’t think I’m the first person to come up with this, like maybe Einstein or Aristotle did, but I didn’t have time to research the research).  So here is the formula:

P(er)fection + sHould-ing = (Stressful+Crazy+Christmas) to the third power

Totally true.

So, back to the magic.

For me, Christmas is not a series of tasks, or checklists or activities or ‘must do’s or ‘have to be’s.

It’s a feeling.

It’s always been a feeling.

When I’m thinking about the big picture, it’s peace on earth, goodwill toward men … the belief in the potential of mankind.

Closer to home, it’s seeing miracles in unexpected places, finding joy in the sound of bells, and getting lost in the smells of frosty balsam and pine.

It’s magical possibilities, the impossible being possible.

I am irreverent, even when I’m on my best behavior.

You know this to be true.

And yet, a great rendition of O Holy Night can still bring me to tears.

Fall on your knees.  

O hear the angel voices.

The whole story…

A virgin mother.

A baby in a manger with donkeys and lambs.

Under a star so bright, that it lit the way to a newborn king.



Thanks for readin’


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