I was a middle schooler when I stopped believing in Santa Clause. It’s embarrassing. I practically had my learner’s permit.
Cynical Suzy called me out during a game of Ultimate Frisbee. “You still believe in Santa, don’t you?” she said, and I imagined her head exploding. I left P.E. early that day, which was stellar, because P.E. makes the list of “Top Ten Things I’ve Hated in my Life.” The smelly shoes; the mildewy towels; the Staph-infested locker room that looked like a Darwinian survival of the fittest experiment. I was no Gryffindor – I was more like a Hufflepuff – and as far as I was concerned, middle school P.E. was my own personal version of Hell.
When my Mom picked me up, I prodded her on the way to my orthodontist appointment. I asked her to confirm my belief – that 700 pound reindeer fly all over the world in one night. My Mom looked at me hard – probably searching my face for signs of developmental delays. “Do you really want to know?” Duh, I thought. I really want to know Santa is real so I can tell Cynical Suzy to shove it where the sun don’t shine. I blacked out after that. I don’t really remember what happened.
There was a time I opened wardrobes thinking they were portals into Narnia. I believed in tooth fairies and leprechauns because I could still suspend my disbelief. I was still distant from myself, and there was no KFCK radio playing in my head. Not one drop of beauty was lost on me. Not a sliver.
But magic isn’t just found in the North Pole. Magic is in a life that jumps from it’s nightmares to it’s dreams. There is magic in the rising and dipping of a violin. There is magic in the first dance of a couple on their wedding day. There is magic in the fact that we are more than a sum of our parts. There is magic in our intuitions, our hunches, and our coincidences.
I told my Mom the other day I thought God might be real. She said, “Of course, God is real.” She didn’t even skip a beat. She just took another puff on her e-cigarette and kept reading Harry Potter on her Kindle. I think Moms learn to half-listen and continue doing the other two things they are doing. It’s a skill.
Magic doesn’t have to mean some puppeteer pulling strings in the sky, but in the course of this project, I have started to become faithful. I do think there is something. Maybe I believe in something to comfort myself. Some people shove their hands into cookie boxes – eating away their fear. Others drink it, or have sex with it. I tend to look upward when I really have something to cry about. I’ve definitely downed a pint of Haagen Daaz in one sitting too, but lately I’m more interested in finding answers – or at least, looking for them.
When we were very young, we couldn’t have known we’d face mundanity, struggle, and confusion. But what kind of stories would ours be if they didn’t do that dance? Darkness is a gift, too, and we have to struggle. Without the nights I cried myself to sleep – without the moments I felt I couldn’t handle – I wouldn’t be the heroine of my own story. And it’s true that every breath of life is beautiful even in the wake of the chaos. The quality of our days is contingent on whether or not we can see through the wool pulled down over our eyes. Our taste for life – our capacity for wonder – depends on whether or not we choose to see things with the right goggles on.
Life is unbearably light. It drifts away all the time, and it takes parts of me with it. Like periods of my life sit on dandelions and then God – or whoever – comes along and blows the begeezus off my dandelion. All the florets, the white fluffy things holding people, and memories, and relationships fly away, and I am sitting there, like “Where did my dandelion go?” And then I realize this is like my tenth dandelion. Everything changes all the time. If we approach life in the right way though, if we wake up and choose light and the right perspective, change doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Have you ever looked into another person’s eyes and seen yourself? Really recognized yourself? If there wasn’t magic, you wouldn’t feel that knowingness. If there wasn’t magic, dreams wouldn’t root down into your soul. If there wasn’t magic, the leaves, and colors, and branches of our lives wouldn’t look so beautiful.
I love the Christmas season because hours are wrapped up in colored paper. The whole world looks shiny – like it’s put makeup on for once. This includes people’s souls.
The world goes on. When you despair, the world doesn’t know about it. When you worry, it doesn’t do any good. My life is so uncertain these days – that’s the truth of it. But because of that, I am going to cover Ted San Diego this weekend, and the co-founder of Ninkasi Brewing called me a “journalist.” That’s right – I wanted to say, “Thank you, sir! You just validated me. I am a journalist, aren’t I?” I’ve been invited to write for a really exciting new website, I met two amazing little girls recently, and I am doing what I love to do. I meet people, I try things, I learn things – and I wasn’t doing that before.
Life is fragile, and I love Christmas because it’s a like a month-long celebration of each breath, you know? It reminds us that we’re lucky to be here, and we need to take advantage of our time. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, yeah? Well, let’s take advantage of it.