There are things in this world that cannot be seen, only felt. One of them is the magical spirit of Christmas. From its spirituality, no matter your religious leanings , each faith driven belief asks you to trust in a type of magic, does it not? Then there is its tradition of gifts left by a mysterious red clad, bearded man in a flying sleigh. The entire season is filled with…magic.
I remember vividly holding my breath and waiting each year as my momma turned on the Christmas tree lights for the first time. The silver tinseled tree with its rainbow of twinkling globes changed the ordinary living room of my childhood into a fairytale wonderland. I sat for hours staring at it, as mysteriously throughout the month shiny presents appeared on the colorful skirt surrounding its base. When the actual day approached the divine smells coming from our kitchen were otherworldly. You see I grew up poor, in the money sense of being poor. No fault placed. The fact is, some have more than others and single mothers, like mine, seemed to have even less. But at that most mystical time of the year, our home was transformed into an enchanted dwelling, a place I’d only glimpsed and read about in the few books I owned. A home filled with sparkling lights, mythical creatures (think angels and elves living side by side) and miraculously, more food than we had had all the previous year. To a child, it is… simply, magic. And who couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives?
When I began having children of my own, I strove to impart that feeling of wonder and just as my momma before me, I too decorated and transformed, baked an abundance of candies and cookies, hid presents and kept the mystical season alive and thriving. Now, getting all of our children (eight plus spouses and significant others) and grandchildren (six) in one place under one roof, is itself a magic act reminiscent of Houdini himself.
Alas, it’s getting ever harder to accomplish this in the Black Friday (now Black Thursday-so very wrong) world in which we exist, a world where, with just a keystroke on your computer, all knowledge is at your disposal. In such a place, even at this time of year, it would appear there is no longer a need for the mystery of this season. But wait, I beg your indulgence. Please close your eyes and think about your own Christmas’ past? Smell the delicious aromas, be it fresh pine or a peppermint candy cane. Taste the sweetness of a freshly baked sugar cookie. Feel your breath catch as you see the twinkling lights of the tree turned on for the first time. Hear your favorite carol or just the ringing of a few golden bells. Feel the joy of opening that one perfect gift (we all have had at least one). Is that memory, in and of it
self, not magic and can we exist in a world without it?
What, you may be asking yourself does all of this have to do with a writer’s blog? Glad you asked. I think we need more magic in our writing. Our world is craving it. Just look around; what’s on the bestseller lists if not stories about magical and imaginative places? How many times have I heard, “My child finally started enjoying reading with the Harry Potter books,” or “My teenager actually discovered something other than TV or the latest gaming device by reading the most current book set in a world other than the one in which they live”? Our logical, plugged in world is loosing its sense of wonder and readers from my 30 plus year old children, to my elementary school aged granddaughters are searching for it in the words we writers take from our imagination and place on the page. If we don’t continue to provide it, where will future generations be? The mysteries of my childhood and its memories are why I began placing words on paper.
Is there anything more magical than seeing your vision come alive on the page and is there any other season so filled with this glorious substance of wonder? At this time of year, please stop and store up all the magic and mystery you can find. It may come in handy the next time you sit down and…begin to write.
An original painting by Cheryl Owen-Wilson