I loved when my children were small and Christmas was totally magical, from the original Christmas story whose focus was, after all, a baby, to the wonder of Santa Claus and how he knew who wanted what. When they were very young we used to minimally decorate and then during Christmas Eve night (and into the morning) the house would be transformed with lights, and candy canes and piles of presents under the tree. Now, at least some of that magic is gone because this is the first year we acknowledged that Molly, our youngest, no longer believes in Santa Claus (Last year she pretended mainly for us!) I have to say that her brothers and sisters were very vested in helping her to believe by playing along, even when friends were telling her that Santa wasn't real. I knew that we had successfully promulgated the legend when one of my children was adamant with her school mates that Santa was real because her parents could not have afforded all the presents!
This is really a new era for us as a family, one between having young children of our own and having young grandchildren, and I was unsure how I would feel about it. A house full of adult children (all 6 were here for the holiday!) and their significant others means that there could be tension (hereditary among Dowds). Lets face it, the "Don't touch me!" and "He pushed me!" does not just go away when siblings grow up. They are just manifested differently. Coming from the different points in their lives, they bring their own stresses, concerns and personalities, and that can cause friction. In our house we had a child between jobs, one away from their significant other for the holiday, one who just graduated from Nurse Anesthesia school, one who is still getting on his feet, one who just finished her first semester of community college, and then, of course, Molly! Among them we have Christians, atheists, and practicing Catholics, lovers of techno, country, and alternative music. And yet, with all of them here, they looked past the differences, crowded around our table (and around the Wii) to laugh and tease, reminisce together to make this one of the best Christmases I can remember.
We had all eight family members, three significant others, and a guest who has lost both his parents and often comes to our house for a dose of craziness and hilarity. There wasn't much elbow room at the table but there was lots of laughter, food passing in every direction (including a roll successfully passed-and caught- across the table!) We had two turkeys, one with oyster stuffing and one with my traditional sausage stuffing, an overdose of carbs, cookies, cakes and eggnog. After opening of stockings (which traditionally comes after dinner at our house) we played several rounds of "murder", a parlor game played in the dark that our neighbors the Calverts introduced us to.
With all their differences of opinions (and those are strongly held), they really enjoyed each others' company, and to me, while that is not the magic of Santa and flying reindeer, that is really the magic of Christmas.
May you and your families experience the joy, shared history and laughter that makes every day magic!