the Bright Army

Fighting for the Human Story

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The Real Magic

We couldn’t have coordinated the timing of our mission better if we had tried. It’s 2:34am and the three of us are on the move.

Guard dogs lie in wait on the perimeter. Everything’s dark. We’re not supposed to be here right now.

Tiptoeing, we try to mask our excitement. The day has finally come. We’ve been waiting so long. We thought it would never get here. But it has.

First stop is the alarm system. It doesn’t always get activated on nights like this. But we want to make sure. The last thing we want is a bunch of sirens blaring and security guards arriving at the gate. No, our mission is not going to be ruined by such an oversight on our part.

I check the alarm control panel. It’s off. Not that it matters too much, since I know the password. But now there’s no need to bother.

The three of us glance at each other, smiles on our faces. It’s just a short distance now. Nothing stands in our way. We just need to stay quiet.

We round a corner.

Bam. A hundred lights hit our eyes. Some shine directly. Others glisten off the nearby glass and metal.

We freeze.

The sight is just so beautiful. The Christmas tree is pretty as it always is. But today, a pile of gifts stack beneath it – each a package of excitement and anticipation.

My brothers and I stand and watch the tree.

Eventually we’ll go over and read the note from Santa Claus – who I must admire for his remarkable ability to impersonate my dad’s handwriting. We’ll take a closer look at the gifts and whisper in wonder of what they might be. And after a time, we’ll make our way back to bed.

But for now, no one moves. No one says a word. We’re just there to take the magic in.

***

I hardly remember the gifts I received. I’m sure they were great, and I’m sure I got good use out of them. But I don’t think of them when I think of Christmas.

My memories are in the stories. They’re in the traditions – in things like sneaking out in the middle of the night to look at the Christmas tree. They’re in shared experiences with fellow human beings.

That’s where the real magic of Christmas lies.

And, as I’m starting to realize, that’s where the real magic of life lies.

***

What are some of your memories? What are your magical traditions around Christmas?

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PS: Our mission has had a good track record over the years. Though as my brother reminded me recently, there was one year stealth and silence got abandoned to the aim of playing computer games to pass the time till my parents woke up. They woke up sooner than we’d planned. Somehow, I don’t remember my mom being too happy about that plan.

PPS: A very merry Christmas to you all. May it be a magical one.