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The Magic of Christmas

Text by: Penny Orland

"Grandma," a little voice asked, "can you talk Santa into bringing me a video camera?" I smiled. The younger generation sure is a lot smarter. I can barely answer a call on my cell phone, and forget it if another call comes in while I'm talking to someone else. At my grandson's age, eight years old, I was still playing with dolls. And none of these fancy dolls with hair that grows or is able to digest and process food.

Still Christmas was a magical time.

I asked for a bride doll after I'd spotted "Linda" in the local toy store, perched high on a shelf in a lofty position. She had sandy blond hair and wore a long, beautiful, and modest I might add, white dress. She was slender, and her eyes sparkled. I'd been fairly good all year and was confident my house wouldn't be passed over. But to prevent any possible error in gift selection, I jotted down all the specs in my letter to Santa.

Excited, I couldn't sleep much that night. I'd peeked under the door. Finally in the wee hours of the morning, in my new Christmas Eve flannel pajamas, my parents let me open my presents, minutes after Santa had dashed away on his sleigh. Not only was Linda under the tree, but my mom had also been in cahoots with Santa. There surrounding this elegant doll were outfits befitting a queen. The latest fashions of the day, including a green, wrap-around corduroy suit and silk blouse; a red satin evening dress; a black, brocade bubble dress with a handmade rose corsage; a felt poodle skirt; and a blue chemise dress, were at my feet. Grandma had donated a piece of her old mink coat, and Mom stitched a stole. There certainly was magic that morning.

© Felicity Photography

Sometimes as a mom I lost some of the magic. There was so much to do, so little time, and sometimes so little money. This was particularly true one Christmas when I was a single mom. Santa's bag was going to be a light for four excited children. They'd gone to bed restlessly in hand sewn Christmas Eve pajamas and peeked into the living room through the wall heater vent hoping to get a glimpse of Santa dropping off the items on their Christmas lists.

Finally the children fell off to sleep, and I started to put out the few gifts I'd made — a tole-painted bed, a doll blanket, and linseed oil stained blocks I'd cut from two-by-fours. When I heard scrambling footsteps outside my bedroom window, I'd grabbed the phone and punched in the number for the police.

"Someone's trying to break into my house," I whispered, gathering my wits (the three remaining ones).

"What's your address?" the dispatcher asked calmly.

I gave it to her. "Please stay on the phone with me until the police arrive," I begged. "I'm alone with my children."

I froze and made no noise. My mouth went dry. Inside I screamed while my heart thumped in my chest. Within minutes, though it felt like an eternity, powerful knocks vibrated the front door.

"It's the police," shouted a deep husky voice.

I glanced out the peephole. A large officer filled the porch.

"Lady," he said, "it was Santa."

© Felicity Photography

I swung open the door to gaily-wrapped gifts. Who gave the festive packages? We never found out.

Holiday magic is still present, often seen through the eyes of the very young. My grandchildren sing of Frosty the Snowman, write letters to Santa, and count down to the big day on a felt decorated holiday calendar. On Christmas Eve, they bubble with excitement, unwrapping traditional gifts of flannel pajamas, and setting out a plate of cookies for some special visitors. And who knows, Santa or one of his generous helpers may just get an inkling of my grandson's Christmas wish and a little magic under the tree will happen once more.