Lately I’ve been thinking of each month as a color.
October was orange. The exact burnt shade of the brilliant trees that line so many streets in my city. Breath-taking. November was deep green. The glorious fall leaves had all faded away and the evergreens were all you could see. Strong, steady, a little moody but in a way that makes you feel like cold, brittle days are no match for them.
December, though. It’s color can’t be easily defined. It’s less of a specific hue and more of a glow. I would call it white, but any artist can tell you there’s no such thing. December’s glow is soft and warm. It belongs with everything, but it could never be called neutral. It twinkles just a little, just enough to make magic seem possible, but not enough to blind you with its blinging dazzle. It’s a glow, not a shine. It suggest the comfort of home and the mystery of unknown possibilities at the same time.
December is a time for magic. Not the cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie kind of magic. Everyone knows that kind of magic isn’t real. Not the magic of a baby’s birth, either. That isn’t magic, but truth and love, and it echoes across the years with its own power.
No, this is the magical time where we look into the face of winter, our bitter cold enemy, and with a wave of our holiday wand, we welcome him as a friend. We embrace him. We build up a fire and bake cookies and cakes and then beg, actually beg, for snow. We bundle up against temperatures that would otherwise kill us and go outside to sing. To sing! We don’t even do that in the summer, people.
That’s real magic.
That’s magic we invent ourselves, digging into our collective imagination and arming ourselves with a narrative that carries us out victoriously into an inhospitable world.
Man, I love this time of year.
I mean, say what you want about how over the top this season has become in our culture, but we have created the ultimate fairy tale. We’ve transformed this bleak, frigid month of endless night into a bright bewilderment of joy. That’s my kind of magic.
We’re going to make up stories around here this week. It’s one of the things we do every year, a part of our wonderful, ridiculous custom of make-believe wonder. We’ll look around at the happy decorations we’ve draped in every corner, and we’ll let our imaginations roam. I’ll give the kids some ideas just to get them started.
The day the Christmas shrank down teeny tiny…
How the snowman ornament lost his hat…
When the Christmas books all fell open and their characters threw a party…
There’s a mysterious lump in my Christmas stocking, and it’s only December 14th…
Joy to the moon…
We’ll laugh. We’ll laugh a lot, I’m guessing. And we’ll roll our eyes a bit and we’ll try to out-do each other. We’ll set our minds free and see where they go.
But I have to admit that the whole time, I’ll be thinking of the biggest story of them all. The one I’ve been telling them since they were just little babies. It’s cold outside, but there’s nothing to fear. All is warm and bright in here. This isn’t a time for the dark and the sad. It’s a time for presents! Be excited! Be glad!
(What? Of course my narrative rhymes. It’s Christmas, people.)