Tis the Season! (Part 1 of 10???)

Thanksgiving Eve, I was perusing through the Facebook thankfuls when one of those eCard thingies caught my eye.  It was something about the holiday serving up the finest in family dysfunction.  I chuckled, thought about reading it to my sister, and then glanced up to see who posted it.  It was my mother.  I was all at once filled with happiness and relief.  This was, in some ways, a sign I had been waiting for.  She knew!  She knew!

My mom has done a great job keeping—or trying to keep—everyone in the family together.  In more ways than one.  And, I imagine, this job is not an easy one.  I am sure it is filled with stress and pain and worry and, sadly, disappointment.  But, perhaps because of her role as the glue that binds us, I always had the feeling that she thought we were normal.  Or, maybe not normal exactly, but not that bad.  Ha!

When I awoke on Thanksgiving morning, I was not thinking about dysfunction.  Not exactly.  Not directly.  I was thinking about magic again and how I not only didn’t see the world through my six-year-old’s eyes, but how I maybe even squelched his sense of wonder with my inability to engage with him on a childlike level.  Okay, so yeah, I was thinking dysfunction.

That morning, I started a post…

This morning, this Thanksgiving morning, I am thinking of my last post and of the girl who climbed out of her bed and crawled onto the floor pleading to become a rabbit and believing that she might.  Of this same girl who conjured up imaginary friends, not only to talk to them, but to embody them, to become them, to speak in new voices, use new facial expressions, and think new thoughts, taking on roles that helped to further stretch her sense of self.  Of a girl who looked behind leaves and under fallen tree trunks to find fairies and who could never, ever sleep on Christmas Eve.

The lens of my thoughts, when looking at this once-me, then begins, of course, to focus in on my son.  My son who is the age that I was when I curled into that magical star-wishing ball on the floor.  My son who is filled with wonder.  Whose sense of disbelief seems unrelentingly suspended, whose adherence to magic is still beyond admirable. 

I think simply of the magic of his imagination, of his role playing games– games I cannot seem to get into, this adult me, games I play with a distant heart, if I even play at all.  Regardless of the realization that there is only a window of time in which he will be so completely enthralled by his imagination in this way, I am still that adult, that unbelieving now-grown Peter Pan from Hook who needs more than a trip Neverland.   My disability is not only in the realm of play, it is also an inability to think like a child, to suspend my adult brain for a moment for something softer and more pliable and more colorful and probably more true.  I fear that I no longer possess that sort-of faith and innocence.  And, perhaps, I am just boring.

I went on to write about how I didn’t think that I could just add water to the shriveled up magic-loving part of myself but that I wasn’t sure because the Macy’s parade was distracting me.  I couldn’t finish and so here I am two days later.

In the starts of that Thanksgiving Day post, I was, I think, in my classic fashion, too hard on myself.  The reality is that I do love magic and wonder and experience (I just think of the melt away of time and space and worry when I dance), but that I just don’t like playing with action figures or carrying on hour long sword fights.  I don’t know that I am suited for piloting star fighter missile machine things or manning deadly tanks riddled with all manner of grim, heartless weapons. I cannot be the only parent in this boat.  It’s just maybe more stark when I don’t have a counterpart to share parenting roles with—you be the swordsman and I’ll read the book later.  I must be both.  And, sometimes, I suck at it.

Still, magic is well and alive in my heart.  And, tis the season for it!  So, instead of spending the rest of my time here thinking about how cold and dysfunctional I am and how I am screwing my kid up because I don’t like to play warrior princess, I am going to focus on a holiday wish: to extend the sense of magic that I impart as the family Christmas Chief throughout the remainder of the year.

My family has dubbed me now, and for always, the Christmas Chief, a wonderful, whimsical role that I take on with zeal.  In addition to my roles prior to the big day (approving menu ideas and planning festive outings), I declare the Christmas morning commence by passionately tying tinsel around the participants shoulders, then I hand out gifts, monitor tunes, pour eggnog (maybe a tinge spiked) and convey joy to all!  If I can do all that, I can probably play a bit of Star Wars.  But, alas!

So, I must determine what little light makes the holidays so, well, magical, that I embody the spirit in such a way as to elicit the title of Chief!  Then, of course, I must take that light, and swallow it, and let it shine in say, April.  Because, while I love presents and lights and bows and music and food and, yeah, dysfunctional family, those aren’t the only reasons I love the holidays.  And, I refuse to say that it has to do with commercialism.  I swear, it doesn’t.  I don’t even have cable.  But, I do get swept away in the bigness of it, in the prettiness of it, in the tradition of it, in the mass collectiveness.  The holidays, and all the mixed emotions that go with them, are just so damned huge!

So, I’m thinking as I journey through the holidays trying to capture that gooey magic center, this will be the first of a series of holiday exploration posts.  I have a mission!

So, hooray and hoorah for the Christmas Chief!  May this season be an epic one in which we all discover the little things (or the grandiose things) that make our pleasure centers tic!  Stay tuned!

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