Christmas is a time of year marked by fantasy and magic, an entire season which centers largely on the notion that a red-suited giftgiver embarks on an annual quest to reward the well-behaved children of the world by piloting a reindeer-powered sleigh through the skies in the wee hours before dawn.
When we're little, we're all too prone to committing ourselves without shame or reserve to this fanciful notion. Unencumbered by the weight of responsiblity and heartache that inevitably accompanies age, we see the world as a realm of limitless possibilities, a place where anything is possible and the existence of Santa Claus is just another example of how incredible life truly is.
As the years go by, we realize that our Christmas memories are based on a fantasy, and this truth - coupled with our continuing understanding that the world is a lot more complicated than we had previously thought - causes us to accept that the magic that we so clung to in our childhood is nothing more than a mirage, a beautiful lie designed to coddle youngsters and protect them from the harsh reality.
It may be undeniable that... yes, Santa Claus is a mythical figure, one now used mostly for the commercialization of the holiday. However, I still firmly believe in the existence of magic.
Hold on, let me qualify that. Please don't think that I'm ready to quit my day job and sign up at Hogwart's or anything like that. Rather, during this holiday season, it occurred to me that there is much in the world that can be considered magical. But only if you believe in it and open your eyes.
Whether it's the kindness of a stranger, laughter with family and friends or the embrace of someone you love, magic is all around us. How else do you explain the indelible, intangible and inexplicable bonds that bring people together?
How about the moment when inspiration strikes and your conscious mind plucks a great idea seemingly out of thin air? Or a long, meaningful conversation with someone who genuinely "gets" you? Connection, friendship, creativity, even love... these are all everyday examples of magic at work.
But just as little ones must have faith that Santa exists, one must keep vigilant and consciously acknowledge the magic that happens around you each and every day. They may not be amazing, death-defying feats the likes of which Harry Houdini or David Copperfield have aspired, but there is no denying that - although the world can be bleak, unfair and even downright cruel - there is much to be amazed by.
Too often, adults are weighed down by all the darker aspects of the world that they become cynical and therefore blinded to the magic of everyday life. It is times like these that we need to reach back into the recesses of our heart and mind and recall those days long since past when we still believed in the existence of magic.
Because, when it comes right down to it, each and every day presents more magic than all the children of the world could ever imagined. And none of it involves Jolly Old Saint Nick.
Happy writing (and living),