Sunday, December 14, 2008

the real magic

Sophie and I went on another great walk this morning and as she flew along the trails, I thought about my Saturday. I had to do a little bit of shopping yesterday afternoon and in the evening I went to a family...a large, 40+ people, extended Christmas was on my mind as well.

I'm having a hard time with the malls this year, more so than in years past. Everything in them feels so staged, so false. As I hurried through the mall, with all the other hurried people, I saw a long line of parents and children waiting for their turn with Santa. Some of the kids were bouncing with excitement while their parents smiled down at them fondly...probably remembering their own turn as a youngster on St. Nick's knee. But many other parents looked tired, weary and frustrated while their children cried and fussed with impatience and general discontent. I don't remember if I was a bouncing, excited kid or an impatient, fussy one. I don't have any recollection of my visits to Santa...but I can remember the joy of writing him a letter to leave out on Christmas Eve with milk and cookies. And I remember the thrill of discovering what he had written back on Christmas morning, cookies gone, empty milk glass on the table. To me, that was the real magic of Christmas.

Late afternoon, I headed to my family party. We have a very big extended family and often these gatherings can become a warm whirlwind of hugs, smiling faces and polite smalltalk due to sheer number of people in attendance. But last night was different. My mother and I were talking to another family member who had just lost her husband to a battle with cancer earlier this this would be her first Christmas without him. As we were exchanging well wishes good-bye, she suddenly began to talk about him. She told us a story of how she finally packed up some of his clothes and put them out on the curb to be taken away the next day, but then bolted awake in a panic at 3am and crept outside in her nightgown to quietly retrieve them from the side of the road. She would try again another day, she said...and she smiled.

I realized, that although she was missing him and that these holiday family gatherings likely amplified her awareness of his absence, that this was also the place and the time that she felt the most like remembering him. That we, her family, were the people she felt the most like talking about him with...and that was a great comfort to her. And to me....that is the real magic of Christmas.


Tatersmama said...

Thank you...What a beautiful, heartwarming post.
For some reason,I definitely feel the magic this year, but maybe it's simply that so many of us just can't afford the commercial trappings?
I feel the joy again and I haven't done that since my children were at home.

gigi said...

Welcome the the world of blogging! Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I'm always happy to meet new blogging friends. Please come often.

I enjoyed your post very much. I almost lost my sweeetheart this past year and I can't tell you how thankful I am for him and for God's love and tender mercies. We've been so blessed. I learned this year that EVERYONE has a story and we need but look around to realize how lucky we are and how much we can help and lift others by our smiles, words and actions.

I haven't been to the mall at all this season and I don't miss it yet. I love to shop don't get me wrong, there are just so many other things right now that are really important.
(sorry I got so long winded, I guess you'll learn that about me if you keep coming around :)
Happy Monday and Merry Christmas!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I really enjoyed your post and your photos. Although you shared about a family member that had lost her husband this past year, your post and photos are very calming. I haven't been to the malls yet, I've been trying to hit a few specialty stores and we have cut our Christmas shopping way back too in these uncertain times.

Thanks you for visiting my blog. I appreciate your kind comment.

Pam said...

What a lovely post. And I love your bridge picture.