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Do You Believe in Magic?

In December, lots of people do

There are people who believe that December brings magic into the world.
    They want more than sparkle of terrestrial and celestial lights against the deep, dark velvet of the long night.
    More than the decorations of yard, house, door and home. More than full-scale illuminations of parks and gardens.
    More than Christmas trees and candy canes and gingerbread houses.
    More than the round of parties that gives us places to go and people to see.
    More than nog and cider, punch and wassail, cookies and plum puddings.
    More than Christmas ties and dresses.
    More than Nutcrackers and Christmas Carols.
    Under these influences, even shopping is swell, as we write in this week’s feature story.
    All that’s magical. But it’s not magic.
    The people I’m talking about expect magic better than that — better even than Harry Potter magic — because they’re looking for the kind of magic that makes them better. Better than they’ve been in a long time — at least in the last 11 months, because magic may transform lives, but it’s still got to be taken in regular doses.
    Kids believe in magic. They believe in the magic of Santa Claus, whose speed-of-light sleigh ride takes him before sunrise to every home, especially their own. Inside their homes and under their trees, he’ll deposit presents that will make them content — at least until the last one is unwrapped. But in anticipation, that orgy of giving and getting and unwrapping is the best moment of their lives, and they’re going to ride high on that tide.
    Old sinners believe in magic. They believe in the Scrooge sort of magic, a moment of truth that illuminates their whole life story with such brilliance that they change their ways. So powerful is December’s magic that by New Year’s Day, all the old sinners will be new saints.
    Christians believe in magic. Just as the son of God was born as the little baby Jesus in a Bethlehem stable 2011 years ago December 25 (or thereabouts), they believe God will be reborn in their hearts and in the world again this December 25. Their anticipation, throughout Advent, is as bated as the anticipation of children, and their redemption more profound, because they believe in more than magic. They believe in miracles.
    Pagans and Druids and all sorts of pre-Christians believe in magic. They believe in the magic of the sun god’s triumph on December 21, reversing the inexorable slide into darkness that threatens, every year, to tip the world into a deadly ice age. On that day, at the solstice, the sun turns back our way, and minute by minute, dusk by dusk and dawn by dawn, we creep back into sunlight.
    Even if you don’t make a comfortable home in one of those categories, December might strike a spark against the flint of your heart.
    Annapolitan Dana Clark found magic at the mall.
    Seven years ago, mourning her mother, she was so moved by the sight of children and shoppers, the sounds of carols that she had an illumination that saturated her with the conviction that Christmas is about love. In that inspiration, she jotted — on a napkin — the lyrics to a song.
    Christmas time has way of making smiles, touching lives, like yours and mine …
    The lyrics found a librettist, Dana Robinson, formerly of the Naval Academy’s Electric Brigade. They found a singer. Sharing that song has become Clark’s mission. Play it forward, she writes on her website, Download this song. Send it to a friend. Do something nice for someone. Donate to a cause you believe in.
    Carol for a Cause has become her way of adding magic to the world.
    Do you, too, want to believe in magic?
    I reckon that’s one of the feelings that fits into the word hope, and that we can have it, regardless of our faith, regardless of the category we fit in — or we wouldn’t know the word.
    December is a good time for hope, when darkness retreats just as the cold sets in.
    In Scrooge’s experience, hope works best when combined with charity. Keep last week’s feature story, Share the Blessings, in your heart as you follow through on this week’s story, The Procrastinator’s Guide to Good-Time Holiday Shopping, and let me know how that combination works for you.