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The holiday season wields a lot of power. As soon as the calendar lands on Dec. 1, I hoist an artificial Christmas tree up my apartment stairwell and locate the holiday carols buried in my iTunes library. I know I whine about how commercialized the holidays have become and roll my eyes when I see ornaments for sale in October, but truthfully, I get excited at the first sightings of the holiday hoopla.
My love of the season stems from the fact that there is a lot of magic involved in the holidays. Whether people are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holiday, there is a magic to them all.
I am not an expert on any of these holidays, but to me they all celebrate human triumphs — from Christians recognizing the birth of Christ, to Jews celebrating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem, to African Americans celebrating their heritage and culture.
The triumphs do not reside in the far reaches of history — they continue every year around the holidays. Giving Trees are erected to collect presents for those in need, food drives are organized, families are adopted and community dinners are hosted.
As an adult, the magic of the holidays has certainly evolved for me. When we were kids, my sister and I would wake up at the crack of dawn and dart into the living room to see the results of Santa’s work. In that dark, early morning light I could almost see the traces of magic dust glittering through the air.
It’s different now; I sleep in on Christmas Day and though I no longer leave cookies for Santa, I still leap out of bed, eager to begin the holiday. The magic is still there, just in another form.
Remember those famous last lines in Chris Van Allsburg’s, “The Polar Express?” The narrator speaks of the bell he receives from Santa during a fantastic visit to the North Pole and how he always hears its sweet sound — as does anyone who truly believes.
I read that story a lot when I was a kid. I was determined that I, too, would always hear that bell’s sweet sound.
And I do.