“Magic of the holidays” by Saelen Ghose
Magic is the art of lost and found. It’s the craft of manipulation where matter disappears and then reappears right before our very eyes. Magic has been around forever, and it never ceases to amaze and delight us, but sadly it’s missing in our everyday lives.
Recently my daughter said, “Daddy, is Mickey real?” She was referring to none other than Mickey Mouse, fueled from a recent trip to Disney World thanks to the generosity of my in-laws.
I said, “What do you think?”
“Well, my friend at school said Mickey’s not real. But I think he is because he has a tongue.”
I almost laughed out loud, but instead I said, “What do you mean?”
“Donald and Goofy don’t have tongues. How can they possibly eat without tongues? But Mickey has a tongue, so he can eat. He must be real. And anyway, he’s magical.”
I smiled at what I thought was pretty solid reasoning for a six-year old.
With Christmas fast approaching my kids have been discussing Santa Claus in some detail. They are getting to the age where logic is starting to impose its will on the magical world of reindeer, sleighs, and the North Pole, and in turn, I’m getting peppered with questions I’m ill prepared to answer.
“Dad, how does Santa deliver presents to every house in the world, all in one night?
“Dad, wouldn’t the sleigh be too heavy for the reindeer to carry all those presents?”
“Dad, how big is Santa’s bag? It must be bigger than our house?”
And then the worst of all, “Dad, do you believe in Santa?”
At this point I’m still able to parry, feint, and disengage, because why in the world would I want to answer any of these questions? Why would I want to take all the fun out of a very special time of year? This approach goes against my usual parental instincts. Typically when my kids ask me questions I try to give detailed answers, exploring every nuance so they can really understand the subtleties of whatever concept or topic they’re trying to understand. But for Santa questions, and any other magic related questions, including the tooth fairy and other cartoon characters, I use what therapists call a redirect. I say, “Hmm. I don’t know. What do you think?”
Magic is far more involved than pulling rabbits out of a hat and making coins appear from behind an unsuspecting ear. Magic is much bigger than some guy wearing a wrinkled tuxedo and a black top hat, providing entertainment during birthday parties, or business holiday outings. Magic is directly or indirectly involved in everything we can’t explain about our world. Magic is the mystery that makes life so interesting, and keeps us guessing even as we discover more and more about the ins and outs of the universe.
The concept of magic lives large in kids, but for most grown-ups it’s considered part of a world we left long ago to pursue more serious endeavors like careers and families. As we get older it gets harder to believe in things we can’t touch or see, even if we understand they exist—like the tiny microscopic particles that are in front of our very eyes every day. Sure many grown-ups have spiritual and religious faith, but do we really believe in things we can’t imagine? Do we ever really suspend belief and not try and come up with a logical explanation for life’s events? Do we ever consider that magic might be at work, connecting the dots and making it all work out the way it’s supposed to? Is the world really just coincidental?
Everyone says the holidays are all about family coming together, and for the most part that’s accurate. But I think what makes the holidays extra special is the magic that surrounds it, breathes life into it, and makes it come alive. Viewing this through the lens of my children is special and fun, but I’d like to get to a place where I believe it all again too, because a world filled with Mickey, Santa, The Tooth Fairy, and any other fantastical creature, is a world that’s a lot more enjoyable than the mundane one I function in.
As a parent with many responsibilities it’s hard to suspend belief for too long, otherwise my kids will go hungry, the bills will go unpaid, and the car will run out of gas. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to keep some semblance of order in my chaotic life as a dad, and often wonder if I was put on this planet solely to cook, clean, and grocery shop.
What I really need to do is sit back and listen, because it’s those funny and interesting conversations with my kids that remind me that the world is so much bigger and more wondrous than I can even remember. And if I want to recreate this magical world for myself, I need to allow myself a few moments to wonder, and imagine the possibilities, and maybe, just maybe, allow myself to feel the magic once again.
Please share your insights into this topic here in the comments section. How do you answer these difficult questions? Do your kids still believe? Do you believe in magic?
Read more of Saelen’s stories of fatherhood and parenting here at The Guy’s Perspective.
Contact Saelen for help with your memoirs. email@example.com