Finding Magic

Christmas used to be that one time of year when magic seemed really possible. Every year we’d all pile into our big American-made car for Christmas Eve at Mamaw’s, and on the way home we’d always gaze out the back window, looking at the star-filled sky for some sign of Santa, as we raced home to beat him. After we were too old for that, we’d watch for the equally elusive southern Mississippi snowflake. There was magic to be seen, even if we never saw it.

Christmas meant a twinkling tree, special food, a few unexpected gifts, and Christmas music. That was about it…and it was enough. I don’t remember commercials telling us to give the “gift of asphalt” to our loved ones by getting them a Cadilac. I certainly don’t remember commercials telling us to mock and make a fool of Santa by getting the best deals on extravagant electronics. In fact, I don’t remember many commercials telling us to buy anything at all for Christmas! There were decorations around town and in stores and Christmas specials on TV. But outside of that, Christmas was a bit more personal…and less in-your-face.

Even my oft-grumpy father found magic at Christmas. Sure he’d often have too much to drink, but he still found his own magic. He seemed to live for going out to find a tree, usually on private property out in the country, just past an old crossroads called Zetus. He bitched, sometimes yelling at the tree, sometimes at us. Mama usually did her own arguing over the tree…usually that it was too big. Sometimes it was an outright nightmare from cut to finish. But I think he loved it. It was his thing. And when he was done, he’d have a few more Miller Lites.

Maybe it’s part of getting older, but I don’t see that magic too much anymore. Sure, smiling kids peering in a store window is enough to give you a giggle sometimes. But so many more are simply sitting in front of TVs being told what to want, if not what to demand, from Santa and their parents. The decorations now are more “buy now and save” than they are sincere wishes.

This doesn’t mean all the magic is gone. I still watch the sky, just in case. I still browse the Christmas ornaments in the store, even when I don’t put up a tree. I still try to catch a glimpse of Santa in the mall, and can’t help but smile sometimes. I still eat too many cookies and too much candy, even if they’re not as good as they once were. And occasionally, just occasionally, there are glimmers of hope for humanity or signs of sincerity. But in this fast-paced, over-commercialized world, that’s about all the magic that’s left in Christmas.

2 Replies to “Finding Magic”

  1. beautiful as usual glenn..truly..

    splendid moments of childhood memories, of which i have shared the same. some sweet, and some bittersweet. the bittersweet ones are rough to deal with, but if you can be a pollyanna you’ll remember mostly the good.

    but i still do see the magic. it’s still there. these past few weeks i’ve seen people going out of their way to be kind and nice to one another. and it seems that people are going back to saying ‘merry christmas’ instead of just ‘happy holidays’. i know that might not be PC, but it’s pleasant to hear again.

    i see the magic within in my own home, with my husband and son…as christmas approached, and as we spent the days together as they unfurled….and it was wonderful. so glenn, there is still magic there…and damn, i know in your heart that you know that……….merry christmas…….

  2. I mean OUTSIDE our homes. I know you find magic at home every day! LOL Hell, I do too, most of the time.

    But yes, there is a little Christmas magic, as I mentioned toward the end. Those Kmart layaway stories were amazing! But for the most part, it was the usual “show your love, buy this” crap again, though. Kids are still demanding this material item or that. It almost makes you WANT businesses to go bankrupt. 🙂 And too many folks are still just putting on a show.

    And whether people say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” doesn’t matter so much to me as whether or not it’s sincere. And in retail, I think either will be mostly just routine. 🙂

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