It’s a crisp day in mid-October. The fall chill has made it necessary to pull out the warmer jackets. The long weekend brings a visit from my college-aged daughters and a much-anticipated shopping trip to the local department store.
The Halloween section has just about been cleared of all its remnants, with nary a costume left in sight. Hints of Christmas and holiday décor were beginning to appear. It was a delightful reminder that my favorite time of year is just around the corner.
My daughter said that Christmas isn’t magical anymore
“You’ll have to get working on your Christmas list!” I nearly shout as my daughter quickly shoots me the side eye. The car trip home is almost silent. She seems troubled, pensive. Suddenly she says, “Christmas is just not magical anymore. You know, like when we were little.”
And there it was. Like a dagger through my heart, it was the elephant in the room. Someone finally said it. It was my fault. Years of creating the magic of Santa, introducing elves, endless hours spent decorating, Nutcracker performances, trips to nearby New York City to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and the annual Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. And the presents, the magic of little ones excitedly ripping open gifts with twinkling eyes while a completely exhausted pajama-clad mom and dad looked on, all captured with hours of video footage to remember forever.
Where are my little kids who once so enjoyed the holiday?
That revelation stayed with me that weekend, spiraling into a much-needed cry. Where were the three tiny children who loved this time of year, who excitedly looked for their elf’s new location each morning as they turned the Christmas countdown calendar to its new page?
I poured over their past Christmas photos, all reminders of the hours spent painstakingly choosing coordinating outfits for that year’s big photo opportunity and Christmas card that we would send to upward of 100 of our closest friends and family members.
I ransacked the large rubber bins that housed home-made Christmas decorations and the ones handcrafted in preschool, with tiny handprints and photos of their much littler selves forcibly shoved by four-year-old hands into clear globes that would forever hang on our tree and immediately trigger memories of the songs they sang at their holiday show that year. These memories were just that, memories, so many happy ones that will forever be etched in my mind long after my children go on to have families and holiday traditions of their own.
I can see that the magic of Christmas is still in my grown kids
But the magic, the true spirit of Christmas, was not lost on me. It was different, but it was still there, plain to see. Those same toddlers, in all their velvety plaid holiday splendor, grew up to be young adults who were taught the importance of volunteering their time throughout the holidays and the joy of giving.
They are the same three kids who excitedly hunt for those unique gifts for their sibling, college roommate, or favorite teacher. They ask what new game we will be buying to play over the holidays this year, looking forward to the family time we will spend together.
They send recipes of cookies they want to try to make this year when they return home after final exams, and they send links to the matching Christmas pajamas we need to purchase on sale before they sell out hurriedly.
They help decorate the Christmas tree over their too-short Thanksgiving break, reminiscing about the significance of each ornament, vacations taken, sports played, childhood princesses and characters once cherished, and the ornaments their tiny hands made at school.
When my kids come home, the Christmas magic will still be there
They help put lights up outside and talk about how they look forward to driving around with hot cocoa and looking at the neighborhood holiday light displays. And most importantly, they ask what gifts we should get this year for those in our community.
When these young adults return to their rooms in just a few short weeks, exhausted from the stress of hours of late-night studying for final exams, excited to have the best ten-hour night’s sleep they have had in a very long time, the magic of the holiday season will indeed be here waiting for them, right where they left it.
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Bio-Tara Ficarra is a former Elementary Educator and adjunct Instructor of Education. Originally from New York City, Tara lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and three children, ages 21, 18, and 15. Tara enjoys spending time at the beach, playing tennis, writing, and reading a good memoir.