Big Louie, his own bad self, the Chief Mustard Cutter of the Louie-Louie Generation learned a long time ago…Magic Lives. It’s honest and it’s real. We had a magic Christmas. I hope you did too. The house was so stuffed with people who cared enough to visit, that sleeping arrangements even involved some floor space. There was turkey and gravy, and mashed potatoes, and two different kinds of cranberry sauce, and music, and memories, a little Santa, lots of laughs, and a couple of tears…and the forty year old tinfoil star at the top of a perfect tree. It was a gentle end for a very rough year. It was magic.
One of the things that made this Christmas so special for me were the Christmas memories that you sent. They were magic. They were honest and they were real. That’s why they had such a mixture of both laughs and tears. I try to keep this weekly blog and the podcast that goes with it every week as honest and real as I can…just like the notes you sent about Christmas. Because I believe in magic, and real magic is always honest.
“Once upon a time” has a magic power. Stories grab your attention…even when you should be very busy doing other “more important” things.
I think everybody has a few real life stories to tell. They’re usually about the big things that happen in your life. Like your first real kiss, for example…not some big sloppy slurp from your maiden aunt…I mean the first real smacker-oo right on the lips from somebody who turns you on. I got mine from Jeannie Campbell. (Thanks, Jeannie, in case you’re reading this.) Your first paycheck is always a big event. Mine was for $8. The first time you got a job… and the first time you lost one…that’s always the subject of some of the stories you tell. So is your first car and your first fist fight. The word “first” comes up a lot when you tell the “Once upon a time” stories of your life.
But I think this is the 212th blog and podcast, so I don’t have many big firsts left to tell you about my life anymore. And that means I have to look around to find lots of very small firsts… which is really good. Because it makes me look more carefully at what’s going on around me. That’s how you get to really appreciate the first scent of fresh coffee beans when you open the jar…the first time the Christmas tree smells like you remember it from when you were five, the way your woman looks, sleeping… in the first light of dawn.
Pretty often, you have to face the first time there’s a last time in your life…like the day you suddenly really know it’s time to retire from a career you’ve loved, or when it’s time to tell an old friend that his political or religious views have become so extreme that you just can’t talk with him anymore. I had to face an awful first time for a last time in 2009. It was when I realized I probably won’t ever get to talk to a daughter again. And those of us who are members of the Louie-Louie Generation have all been around long enough to know what it’s like to experience the first time you know it’s the last time you’ll see your mother or father, your husband or wife.
That’s why “Happy Holidays” just doesn’t cover the realities of Christmas and New Year’s. “Happy Holidays” is phony. It’s like “Have a nice day.” The magic in Christmas is about Santa Claus, music, presents, good food, close company, and love. Those are all honest and real. But it’s also about giving birth to a baby in a stable. A stable. As in a place full of straw that animals have soiled, very strong smells that don’t need description here, and the desperation and pain that a young woman feels giving birth to her first child…a child who has in His future nails, and thorns, and a broken heart.
And “Happy Holidays” certainly doesn’t let you touch the power of the hope that we still always manage to feel for the New Year that’s about to start. That hope is genuine magic. It’s honest and real, even though there’s no logical reason for it. Especially at the end of a year in which a brilliant and energetic, but inexperienced, black man became our president, and millions of us lost our homes, and big shot executives were reduced to playing miniature golf, while excellent American blood was still turning foreign sand bright red. And worst of all, of course, for most of us, personally… is that we’ll never again hear at least one familiar voice that sang Auld Lang Syne with us…once upon a time.
The very fact that you’re reading this is amazing to me. It’s kind of a magic in itself. There’s no logic to it. You’re probably not going to learn anything. Certainly not anything you can’t figure out for yourself. But you wouldn’t be reading this or listening to the podcast if you didn’t get something from it. Maybe you believe in magic too, and you like hanging out with somebody else who understands that magic feels so good.
Some magic you have to see to believe. Some magic works the other way around…you have to believe it to see it. That’s not logical. But neither is real magic.
So I hope you’ll drop in on this blog and podcast through this new year, just like you did through the one that’s passed. Because I like the company of folks who understand that magic hides in little beginnings, like opening a fresh jar of coffee…people who love laughs, but aren’t afraid of tears…folks who don’t mind taking a long trip that ends in sleeping on the floor…just because they care.
Obviously, we can’t know the stories this new year will bring. But I believe that as long as we’re honest and real in telling them, we’ll keep finding the new little first times in our lives that will make our magic strong…until it’s time to sing our next Auld Lang Syne…together.
So…go ahead…bring on whatever you’ve got 2010. We can deal with whatever you throw at us. We’re magic.