Once upon a time I believed there was something magical about Christmas Day that went beyond anything that Santa Claus could bring. I distinctly remember looking out the window on a cold Saskatchewan Christmas morning when I was a child and seeing sparkles in the air. I realize now that it was likely ice crystals that made the morning shimmer, but at the time it seemed like magical fairy dust was in the air, and the sun shone brighter than it had before.
Every Christmas morning after that it seemed to me that there was something different about the way things looked on Christmas Day and I retained that sense of wonder well into adulthood. I was in my thirties the last time I had that same sense that there was something enchanted about the way things looked on December 25. It might have been the last Christmas I saw the magic before my world fell apart.
There were a series of difficult Christmas’ for me after that. There was that first Christmas after my then-husband and I separated when I made a difficult choice about who would–and who wouldn’t–be present at the table for Christmas dinner. Then another Christmas morning when the only gifts with my name on them under the tree were from a couple of co-workers, and when I awoke alone my first thoughts were to remind myself that I would get through the day somehow.
My life is much different now and this year my husband and I are looking forward to having all of our children and grandchildren with us at some point over the Christmas holiday. I’m especially excited about experiencing Christmas morning through the eyes of my granddaughter and I hope she sees the magic.
This afternoon as I was running last-minute Christmas errands I happened to drive past the cemetery. I watched as a car with one lone occupant–a young man–drove out through the gates and I couldn’t help wonder about his reason for visiting the cemetery on this the last Friday before Christmas. Had he lost a parent; a spouse; a friend; or, God forbid, a child? Did the Christmas carols and coloured lights mock him as he did the best he could to make it through the cold and dark December days? Was he looking forward to Boxing Day when everything would return to normal, yet knowing that there would never be another normal for him again?
That first Christmas after one experiences the loss of a loved one, whether through death or estrangement, is almost unbearably difficult and painful. It is especially difficult to maintain that facade of “doing okay” when the rest of the world is smiling and happy and all you want to do is crawl into bed until it’s all over. This year, there are two people in my family who are enduring that “first Christmas”. My prayers for both of them are constant.
I pray that everyone who is struggling through this month will be comforted. I pray they will retain their faith that the Christmas magic will return for them in time. I pray that they will be comforted in knowing there is a Reason for the season that goes beyond lights, presents, and fat men in red suits.
The magic is there in the bright eyes of a child experiencing the wonder of the season. It’s there in the hearts of those who give unexpectedly and sacrificially. It’s there in the love we have for those we hold dear.
And it’s there in a Babe in a manger who came on that very first Christmas Day when the magic abounded. I wish for you all a very Merry, and Magical, Christmas.