I think maybe I have lost the magic of Christmas. I imagine I lost it some years ago, probably after Ben died, but I never really thought about it before this year. I didn't want to lose that magical feeling, the belief I used to have as a child, looking out my bedroom window at the vast dark sky on Christmas night, feeling that anything was possible. Peace on Earth, Joy to the World, Santa Claus and flying reindeer. Christmas was the most magical time of the year - I even saw Rudolph flying past my bedroom window when I was 3. I believed.
I hope Christmas is magical for my children, but I don't suppose I'll know that until they're grown. I hope my loss of magic doesn't rub off onto them; so far, I think it hasn't. Maybe it can't rub off when you're a kid - at least when you're a kid of parents who love you and each other, and can afford to buy you gifts and make it a special day.
So I sat in church last night and thought about the ghosts of my Christmases past. We were attending the church I grew up in, which is 300-some miles from where I now live. I remembered Elizabeth, who died 2.5 years ago, who was a wonderful presence in my teenage years and through my mid-30s. I remembered Christmas Eves when she was there, with her young children. I remembered her oldest son lighting candles as a 10 or 12-year-old on Christmas Eve, and the worry that maybe he wasn't quite up to the job. I remember her smart, beautiful daughter singing. And I remember how Elizabeth had this aura of love and life about her. There are some people you meet in this world who are exceptional beings, who radiate something - the love of God? Peace? I don't know. Whatever it was, Elizabeth had it, and I adored her for it. I wish I had it too.
Her husband remarried this summer, and it breaks my heart.
When I was in elementary school I belonged to the church choir, and we had a wonderful director whom we all adored. He wrote musicals and songs for us, amazing things, and we were really good. I even remember bits of songs he wrote for us. He made us believe we could do anything. I remember singing on Christmas Eve those songs he wrote for us, how much joy there seemed to be in the congregation as we sang.
He was arrested last year on three counts of gross sexual imposition and corruption of a minor.
And then there is my third ghost of Christmas past - Ben. I had one Christmas present with him, and a lifetime of Christmases past.
I miss you, my little love. Merry Christmas.
And to all of you who are reading, I hope you find the magic. I hope you still believe.