When you're little, Christmas brings a month of perfect moments. The presents, the magic of Santa and all those elves and reindeer, the smiles on all the adults faces whose lives revolve completely around you for that one day; it's fantastic. You can hardly sleep the night before, as you hear every creak the house makes, and you're sure it's HIM. You rush into your parents room earlier than you'll ever want to get up for school, or any other day, and jump on their bed and scream until they wake up and take you to open the presents. There are more than you remember, and the stockings are full. The smell of cinnamon rolls fills the air (at least in my house) and you begin the day. It's perfect.
Then as you grow up the magic begins to fade away. Your parents become flawed liars as you discover that they're human. Even worse, you discover that you're human, and have somehow grown up.
Responsibilities set in and weigh all the magic right out of the season. Instead of wondering what Santa is bringing and whether or not you were a good little boy or girl, you worry about who is on "gift giving levels" of friendship, what to get your dad, and how you're going to afford all of this stuff that you had to fight thousands of other crazed shoppers for downtown. You worry about booking flights across country to visit your family and catching up on work before you take time off. If you're not careful, you may lose the magic all together.
But, at least for me, there is always that one moment, when my nose is flushed red and I'm bundled up walking downtown. It's right as I'm walking home from work, it's beginning to get dark, and all the lights on State Street have come on. There are hundreds of people shuffling through the streets surrounding me, trying to shop, get home, or just trying to get indoors. All of a sudden the flakes start to float down, and the world becomes silent. Everything is perfect.
I'm immediately transported back to the magic of being young, and full of life. I stick my tongue out and close my eyes and just smile as I walk. All those people shuffling by don't seem to notice, but I do, and it makes me feel special, and warm, and completely happy. Because in that moment, I'm 10 years old, standing in my front yard in New Mexico in my teal green snow pants with my little sister, and my parents, and the neighborhood kids, and we're freezing but throwing snow balls and anxiously awaiting hot chocolate and dry clothes. We'll file inside at dark and my dad will try to light a fire. It will end up filling the house with smoke, and we'll all laugh at him, because it's three against one and that's what we do.
It's a perfect moment. And it brings back the hope, and the magic, and the warmth of the season that we all remember and spend the rest of our lives chasing. It makes everything feel new and quiet, and the stress floats down through the gutters along with those perfect white flakes and I take a deep breath, thankful I'm alive, and for everything I have.
It's my hope this Christmas season (and Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa seasons too) that you find your perfect moment and be in it. Remember your inner child and let him or her enjoy the moment in a way you've forgotten. Wholly, uninhibitedly, and fearlessly.
With Love and Hope,