Living in Orlando, we think about magic a lot.
The magical Magic Kingdom and all of Disney. Orlando’s NBA team, the Magic.
The magic of this season, however, isn’t manufactured in a factory, nor does it come dressed in costumes. It’s not slight of hand nor fans at a basketball game.
The magic of this season is the joy of being loved by a God who gave us His best gift to restore us to a real relationship with Him.
I underestimate the power of joy. I love to be happy, but happiness is based on my circumstances. Since I wear my feelings on my sleeve, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
True joy is from inside. A contentment that comes from knowing there’s a rightness about my life in spite of life circumstances being less than desirable.
It’s in Ryken’s face when he looks at the tree my mother-in-law made.
When John and I were newly married, Mom made us a ceramic Christmas tree. She had incredible gifts of creativity and loved trying new things. She’d joined a pottery class, making many ceramic items.
This Christmas tree was special.
It has holes in the branches for lights and a little cave beneath the tree for a tiny Nativity trio. All our kids loved playing with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus as they grew up. As many times as they’ve been lost, they always turn up.
We’ve lost half the lights so we can only have color in the front. The white lights through the holes in the back add a softness to the scene.
It makes me think of Mom, who passed away almost twenty years ago.
When Ryken sees the tree, his face takes on a wonder that is magical. He’s learned to turn the little knob to make the lights appear. He reaches in gently to hold the Baby, whispering, “Jesus”. He pulls the lights out, placing them in different holes, making color from white, white from color.
If I wasn’t so afraid he’d break the tree, I’d let him stay there for as long as he liked. At two, that’s not going to happen.
That tree has given us so much joy over the years. Whenever we moved, Grandma’s tree would be the first thing we took out when we began decorating for the holidays. It reminded us of Mom and her gentle spirit, bringing family back into focus and decompressing the crazy that the season would inevitably become.
I’ve always thought there was a little magic in that tree.
The real magic is in the relationships it represents. The family that’s part of who we are. The past that always casts its ripples into our present and future.
It’s the woman who reflected the love of Jesus to everyone she knew. Caring sacrificially for others. Loving without condition. Giving generously even when she didn’t have much herself.
Because she loved the God that loved her.
That’s the real magic of Christmas. That an eternal God would step away from glory to come to this dark and broken place to save people who don’t see Him for who He is.
That’s the forever kind of magic.
No bibbi-bobbidi-boo required.