By Barbara Ashburn

Staff Written Community

By Barbara Ashburn

Where is the magic of Christmas?  Do we need to search for it or does it find us?  

Is it in the gifts?  I tried to think of Christmases past and remember if any gifts created that magical feeling. I remember the year I got the most beautiful baby doll.  That same afternoon I took my new doll up the street to show her to neighbors and one of the girls just had to hold her.  Because the neighbor girl was in the process of painting her fingernails, she accidentally dropped some bright red polish on my doll’s face.  So much for the magic of the Christmas doll! 

Another gift stands out, my opal ring, and I still have it, though I really think the magic was that Mother was able to save enough money to buy it.

Because Mother always had my sister and me a lot of presents under the tree, we always felt blessed and happy on Christmas mornings.  But Mother would begin her shopping for us in January and work on our gifts all year long.  Nothing was very expensive and the gifts were mostly things that we needed, underwear and socks, new blouses, etc.  Because she was our only support, Mother had to pinch pennies and spread out her spending.  The magic was in how she managed to make us feel so special every Christmas, NOT in any wrapped presents.

I will always remember Amanda’s first Christmas in Clayton.  She had been born on the 10th and was only two weeks old and my mother had already left us because she had to return home to work.  I recall sitting in a rocking chair in front of the TV while a choir was performing a Christmas cantata on Christmas Eve.  W. H. had gone to help with a merchants’ drawing in town so I was alone with my baby.  I cried.  When W. H. came home, he and the football coach had been presented with some bonuses from the merchants in
Clayton and he had gone shopping.  He came in loaded down with “stuff’ for Christmas.  Yes, there was magic there somewhere.

Is the magic in the music?  It is for me. No music is as stirring as the old traditional Christmas carols. I still remember some Christmas music that I participated in as a teenager and also all the way to adulthood.  Most of this was always in church, sometimes on the Sunday before Christmas or an Easter cantata or an extra concert done by our choir or the chorale.  

I can still hear particular voices singing solos in cantatas throughout the many years W. H. and I have participated in choirs.  

Never will I forget the Christmas Eve service at the Presbyterian Church when Hoyt sang O Holy Night after suffering a stroke the previous year.  There was not a dry eye in the sanctuary.  THAT was magic.  There is certainly magic in our annual Lessons and Carols when we have strings along with the organ and the piano and the choir.  There is nothing more inspiring than the sounds of strings played magnificently in a small sanctuary.

However, upon reflection, I have decided that the magic is not limited to a particular season, not even Christmas. The magic is all around us every day of our lives.  It is the voice on the line that says, “Hi, Mom (or Bobby)!  How are you today?”   

It is the friend who says, “I’m cooking for us next Sunday.”  Or certainly the friend who says, “My five-year scan was cancer-free!”; or the text that says, “We made it home safely.”   It is walking into a room, expecting family members being present to celebrate your 60th wedding anniversary and finding a room full of family and friends who have all been such an important part of those years. 

 It is also the surprise birthday party for W. H.  Yes, we really did pull it off!  There is certainly magic for me every time I hear “Hey, Mrs. Ashburn!  You were my teacher in the eighth grade!  Do you remember me?”  Sometimes for a teacher, that is the best magic of all!

 You don’t need a celebration or special event to feel the magic.  You just need to be receptive to it when it happens and recognize it when it does.  Enjoy the magic!  It’s all around you!

Merry Christmas 2018!

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