Like some other posts here, I write this to remind myself as much as anything else. I fall into old habits very easily and then something happens that jolts me into a reminder that there is another way of seeing the world. Christmas this year has done just that.
There are a few things that I like about Christmas. I don’t like the commercialized frenzy that Christmas seems to have become. That does not appeal to me at all. But I would say that there are four things that I do like about Christmas.
- What I see as the underlying message of Christmas, peace and goodwill to all.
- Singing Christmas carols. I have always enjoyed doing so, and don’t do it enough nowadays.
- The family coming together.
- Experiencing the magic of Christmas through a child’s eye.
It is the final one that this article is about.
Of what magic do I speak?
I do not have any children of my own, but my wife has two adult children. I am now a grandfather to two young boys - one 3 years old and the other 1½ months. This year the three year old is starting to understand what is going on at Christmas. Santa is real for him. The lights decorating houses are creating a wonderland that he gets to inhabit. Presents appearing under the tree are creating conversation and excitement. The promise of making Christmas cookies with grandma is waited for eagerly. The Sugar Cane Train to Santa Land - “look at the train, the lights, the snow.”
Around my grandson his sense of joy and belief in the world emerging around him becomes infectious. I experience a world of possibilities and fun. Not just something that he believes, but a real world that he takes us into along with him. For that magic is his imagination.
In the middle of this seasonal world of his is the Elf!
The Elf is a Christmas decoration that ‘lives’ in his house. Every morning the Elf is somewhere else in the house, engaged in some different activity. The other morning my grandson came down almost out of breath, and in his emerging English of words, noises and nicknames, he explained what the Elf was doing when he woke up. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, though tried to acknowledge his excitement. The photograph below shows what he was trying to explain to me.
Elf has also just sat on a shelf, slept on another shelf, played on a swing that he hung from a light, dangled from a thin web à la Spiderman, and hidden in a cup. All of these have been pointed out to me eagerly by my grandson as I walk into his house.
I suggested that maybe Elf would also come down to my house. My grandson was left pondering that, unsure.
Seeing with new eyes
My drive home here on Maui is in part along a road that is travelled by many visitors to the island. As I follow those whom I assume are here for the first time, I imagine that with every turn in the road they are seeing for the the very first time scenery that I see everyday. With fresh eyes, possibly seeing things that my tired seen it before eyes miss? Maybe seeing a depth to the beauty that we are driving through, a beauty that I saw once but now miss (take for granted - I hope not)?
Similarly what do I miss not only at Christmas, but year round?
Belief, joy, wonderment, possibilities. I see all of these in my grandson as I watch him live through the build up to Christmas. And his belief in that magic can take me there as well as I follow his awe and exclamations. I find it a powerful magic, something that we could all remind ourselves of, and that sadly slips away from us as the truth of Santa’s reality fades from our grasp.
It is from my grandson’s imagination that will emerge his creativity, ideas, invention. To smother its development is to smother possibilities for him into the future. And Christmas can be a remembrance to us of our loss of imagination. Of falling into regimentation that daily life bring to us, and with it a loss of magic.
I invite you to surrender to the magic that children can bring to us at this time of year. Open yourself to possibilities. The possibility of love winning over hate, of us solving the problems of climate change, of fairy lights, of anything.
And if children are not in your life, take yourself back to those moments of magic in your own life. It does not just have to be Christmas. Magic is always there, somewhere, for us to tap into. We just have to keep are eyes and heart open.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
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