Christmas doesn't seem quite like Christmas without little kids on the scene. As a baby boomer looking back on Christmases that had magic and those that did not, I've seen that children were the key ingredient for enchantment.
When I was a kid, Christmas definitely felt like magic. We grew up with the whole Santa Claus thing.
Left our cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Were thunderstruck to find empty plates and an empty glass in the morning. And toys.
When childhood was left behind, though the magic faded. Christmas settled in to being a nice time to get together, with its unique mixture of pleasures and pressures. Gifts were exchanged, but the bright-eyed delight never reappeared, for the giver or the recipient of the gifts.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that some Christmas magic came back when we started having babies. Okay, maybe not so much at baby's first year, when they had no clue what was going on. But once they began to become aware -- Yeah, the magic was on.
My husband and I were the ones who were doing all the work to make the magic -- staying up late Christmas Eve to assemble a toddler's rocking chair or an older child's bicycle, filling stockings -- but the payoff next morning made the lack of sleep all worthwhile.
We got to see the bright-eyed delight from the other side this time and Man! It looked good. We got to see our children enthralled and enchanted.
Then after awhile, of course, our kids all grew up. Christmas magic once again faded. Christmas again became a nice time to get together, but childish excitement had been replaced by ... whatever happens to us adults.
Fortunately grandbabies have a way of bringing the magic back.
My grandsons live half-way across the country but there are glimmers of magic long distance anyway. Sending toys in the mail, sending gifts ordered online, sending money so their parents can pick out gifts and have more of the magic too ... No, it's not the same as being there but it's one heck of a lot of fun anyway.
Photos from cellphones, put on Facebook, help us to share in the Christmas magic once more.