Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Childhood Magic


I have to admit I've been rather hard pressed to see any Christmas- like childhood magic on display this season. Oh, I've seen herds of children following along a parent behind a shopping cart, witnessing the plucking of toys off the store shelf. the child seemingly very aware of who is buying the Christmas goodies. And, thanks to TV ads, those children know what's hot...and exactly what they want...and make those wants known in loud and dramatic pleas in the middle of a toy aisle.
Perhaps the magic went out for some children when the schools guided them from Christmas Nativity pageants into more secular "winter festivals", or maybe children have just seen too much on TV, or on the street corner, to ever believe in fat men in red suits, or a child in a manger.
Never the less, I haven't given up on seeing a bit of Christmas magic. I know I'll see some bright eyed children at Christmas Mass...I always do. There will be children from two to twenty who will again hear the words of Luke and Matthew on Christmas Eve...and learn there's more to Christmas than gaming systems and Star Wars regalia. 
And then, as Christmas always does, I was heartened to read something this morning that reinforces my belief that the magic lives...even in a world of crass commercialism. A local writer went down to the Arizona Children's Crisis Center and interviewed the 71 children lucky enough to live in a state home (there are 17,000 parentless children who are not so lucky). 
The writer asked the children the most natural and obvious question; "what are you hoping for, for Christmas this year?"
The response was varied but always wandered back to a central theme....a desire to belong to a family.
One little seven year old girl talked about spending a few hours one Christmas ice skating...and longed to do that again.
Another seven year old boy's response was so precious; he said, though he's been told there's no Santa Claus, he's not ready to stop believing, because, if he does, he might not get the shiny red fire engine he's hoping for.
One rather cynical ten year old has been fostered three times in his short life, and longs for a sense of family, and permanence. He can't seem to get over the idea that his lot is because of something lacking in himself. Yet, you sense in his words that he has not given up hope that Christmas...and that elusive Santa, will bring him to a home that might value him.
I guess the lesson to be learned here is that those with the least still harbor the most sense of hope, and the greatest appreciation for modest gifts...that there's still enough magic to make it all happen.
The Crisis Center home will hold a traditional Christmas Eve dinner again this year. They'll provide turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and a center volunteer will read "The Night Before Christmas" before they're off to bed....and in their night dreams they will hold out hope that that elusive "Santa" will come though for them...and bring them a home.
A wise man once said "Hope is patience..with the lamp lit". These children seem to have lit their lamp and still believe that some magic might find them. God Bless Them.