When my older son was 6, he got into a deep philosophical conversation with a buddy (also 6) and his older brother (8) about the existence of Santa Claus. The brothers were trying to convince my son there was no such thing. My son was trying to convince the brothers that Santa was the spirit of giving. If they had experienced giving/receiving gifts, sharing food, love at the holidays, then they had indeed experienced Santa. Of course he wasn’t the red-suited old man at the shopping mall; but Santa did exist. The brothers conceded – Santa Claus was real!
Children are filled with wonder. Somewhere along the way, we seem to loss that wonder. We get all rational. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for magic in the adult world. Yet, we can be transformed each year by Christmas memories. Memories lead us to experience once again the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of Christmases past.
If we have lost a loved one, that person can magically reappear in the traditions of the holiday season. Two years’ ago, we channeled my Aunt Glady as we recreated her holiday fruitcakes – it took all day and lots of Christmas cheer (wink), but we could feel her with us, supervising the process, enjoying the fun. Nanny O was there that day too – rolling her eyes, leaving the cupboard doors open. The memories of these women transformed us. We were in a magical place that day.
For some, holiday memories are difficult. Alcohol made a few childhood Christmases unpredictable for me. So, I spent time in the early years of adulthood renegotiating those memories. Choosing to pull forth the stories of building forts on Christmas Eve with my siblings, and waiting until each present was completely unwrapped and adequately admired before the next one was passed out on Christmas morning. “Remember that time…” In those happy memories, I feel warm and loved. I am transformed by Christmas magic.
Go back into your memories and find the ones you love. It doesn’t have to be the whole season, just a simple memory that brings that warm holiday feeling. I am not sure which comes first – the memories or the magic. Either way, the magic can be an opportunity to heal the wounds of a broken heart or a challenging childhood.
The first year losing someone important, the holidays can be a mix of happy and sad. The first snow comes, but mom wasn’t here to call. Ouch. Then, out come the ornaments, up goes the tree, and the fire is lit – it’s almost as if she is back, sitting quietly in the corner, enjoying the stories and laughter.
If sadness appears, give it space. Embrace it. Show it some compassion. Sadness often feels empty and left out. If joy appears, it needs space too. Allow it in to reminisce, celebrate, keep the traditions rolling.
Relax your rational brain and let your emotional brain handle whatever comes. Your emotional brain is where your memories are stored. It is wise. Some call it the heart brain. If you have moments when you feel upset, breathe. Your breath will settle your heart; your heart will settle your brain.
When in doubt, there are those you can trust – kids, elders, and pets seem to know how to embrace the magic and transform it into love. Seek them out. Let them show you how to lean in to the magic and feel the love.
I wish you the happiest of holidays!
“It’s important to remember that we all have magic inside us.”