Home less than a day, Ben and I had already watched The Santa Clause 2, an annual favorite. Now the next day, just as we settled into a game of mancala, I casually asked him what he wanted for Christmas. Perhaps inspired by the magic that ligered from our movie viewing the night before, or perhaps it was just the moment he was waiting for to express the magic he was envisioning as a gift from Santa. Either way, I sat back in amazement and listened to a series of wishes that felt impossible to fulfill.
His first request was to go to ‘Rock Candy Mountain’. Literally. He described having his own tent to crawl into and when he came back out, he would simply be there in that magical place. He sounded quite clear in the process and the images that could transport him. I sat there frantically considering how I could adapt this into something that could in some way approximate what he was imagining, perhaps setting up my tent here by the tree for him to find in the morning, somehow empowering him to dream what he was imagining. I knew the feeling of this movie I had watched with him over and over as a child after all. Then grasping at straws, I suggested that maybe Rock Candy Mountain pnly lives in the set that was created to make the movie a long time ago and that the set was now gone, no longer real, that maybe Santa could bring him a new DVD of the movie instead. Ben looked at me with evey bit of the twenty-four year old he is, as if I was talking nonsense, and said, no, Rock Candy Mountain was real and that’s where he wanted to go. And at the same time he must have seen something desperate in my face because he switched gears, tried again. He said, “How about this Mom. I want the silver box that opens and fills the room with stars and I can then be with Grandpa’s Magical Toys”. He went on to describe all the toys in detail. I knew he was referring to another movie, but not anything I had ever watched with him when he was younger. So I pulled out my phone and went to Youtube, Ben guiding me until I found the show he was referring to. We watched together as the kids, left alone in Grandpa’s toy workshop, opened a silver box to release a magic swirl of tiny stars. It surrounded them like a mist, and shrunk them down to be the same size as the toys. Of course, the toys then came alive. That’s what Ben wanted then, to become small and become one with the toys. He was smiling joy at the possibility. Once again, my rational brain tried to suggest an alternative, but he would have nothing of my musings that only altered the feeling of the magic for him.
Ben is a very intelligent human being. He knew I couldn’t go there with him. So he switched gears agian. He smiled conspiratorily, came over to where I was sitting and whispered in my ear, “I want a heart, in a necklace”. He stood up, put his hands on his heart saying ‘a crystal, to wear right here”. Who is this boy, this man, this child of mine born with Down syndrome, as perfect to me as any child could be, that he can bring me to the verge of tears in an instant with his wise ways? I immediately went to the practical, wondering what kind of heart necklace I could actually find or make for him, trying to dispel my gender identified bias that it might not be appropriate. I even went so far as to suggest maybe a crystal heart he could hold in his hand, but he just looked at me blankly, dismissing once again any deviation from his vision.
Finding magic is a deeply personal thing. Who am I to judge where it lives for Ben? Or for my beautiful daughter Molly, whose heart sees magic in far away lands too. My kids don’t judge me for my obsession with trimming the Christmas tree just so, six boxes full of ornaments each year that somehow find their places together one more time. It is a feeling of magic that is hard won. When I put the first few on, it sems impossible that there will be room for all the rest. the kids put a few on, make an effort, but when I am left alone again with the tree, the boxes are still very full. I can’t leave it alone. I leave the room but the minute I come back I am picking up more ornaments, finding their places. Then there is always a moment, like the swirl of Ben’s stars, that I can feel the magic of light balancing with the amazing cacophany of little toys on the tree that have now come vibrantly alive for me.
Heck, even the dogs know how to find magic. Like Yogi’s daily capture of some thing inside that he runs outside with, that will have me donning boots and chasing him through the meadow to retreive because it is often something valuable, like my brand new shoes, or slippers, or piece of mail. I even found my wallet out there one day! What could be more magical than seeing his human come alive, chasing him to his heart’s desire.
In these cold dark days it is good to find the magic where I can, in the light, in traditions that inspire, in the simple sight of the world coming alive each morning,
or in heart that can connect with another heart.