Stuff gets jumbled, and left out, for kids like me—kids born too close to Christmas. Instead of getting two holidays in one, we really only get half of each.
I remember smiling as big as I could when grownups wished me Merry Birthday. Then they smiled back when I put a bow on my head, because, see, I was a gift. But the bow never stayed on since little bits of wrapping paper were already stuck on the sticky part.
So this season, for me, has never been about Christmas or my birthday. I mean, presents are cool, food and family are nice and all that.
But the lights.
Lights are special. Unusual. These bright, colored beings all shiny in the night where, at every other time of the year, there’s darkness I’d rather ignore.
But the lights make me look. They want to prove they’re special and alive with their pops and sparks and colors burning against the night. Glowing. Mesmerizing.
As a kid, I’d lie on the floor in my footy pajamas, wrapped in a blanket, the rest of the house dark, everyone asleep, silence all around me, and just stare at the tree’s lights forever. I’d breathe them in. As they sparkled, and I crossed me eyes so the lights would go fuzzy and get even sparklier, that’s where the magic hid.
Not just in my tree, or just in my lights, or only while I was alone. Sometimes, a lot of us could see the magic all together at once.
My trailer-park family would pile in the truck and drive around to the biggest displays. It’s funny how they were always at the same houses that gave out the best Halloween candy.
The most amazing thing was when we’d round a curve, and the pine trees would open up to a winter cornfield, and there—magic—out of nowhere. Surprise lights in surprise places in the night.
Those were the ones where the most magic hid.