Think ABout It: A lot like Christmas

Last Christmas, we attended a holiday open house in our neighborhood. The evening was festive with friendship, conversation and good food. One thing stands out to me among all that good will – a very tall evergreen tree sparkling with flickering lights from the lowest to the tallest branch.

I was smitten. The tree towered over an outside seating area that surrounded a contented campfire. The feeling I experienced when I looked up at the tree was a flashback to the same feeling I experienced decades ago as a small child looking up at the amazing Christmas windows of a large department store in downtown Seattle.

The feeling was nothing less than the magic of Christmas, pure unencumbered magic. The feeling asked for nothing more than to be experienced.

I don’t think anyone is squirming because I am talking about Christmas magic instead of the more generic holiday. Christmas is my holiday, the one my family celebrated with its own touches like lutefisk and opening presents on Christmas Eve as Norwegian families do.

I don’t recall anyone attempting to explain why Santa came early to our home or even conjure up a story about his early arrival. Truth be told, I was relieved because the idea of someone coming into our house by chimney was terrifying.

I found sitting on Santa’s lap equally terrifying and as a consequence, there are no photos of Santa and me. Clearly, I had a deep understanding of the danger of sitting on the laps of strange men.

Still, not even Santa terror dispelled the magic of Christmas.

Season for all

Holiday magic happens for us whether it’s Christmas magic or the magic of other holidays celebrated in homes here and across the world. Lights and decorated trees fill our stores, banks, hospitals and government offices.

In a gesture of good will toward all, the greeting “Merry Christmas” was replaced by “Happy Holidays” in most secular businesses and organizations.

The secular, non-committed greeting is a nod to the fact that not all religions celebrate the birth of Jesus in December, but may celebrate another event significant to their religion. Many individuals don’t celebrate any religion but may celebrate the season, called Christmas or not.

Most people, and I believe it is most, are not offended by the understanding that not everyone celebrates their religious beliefs. Yet, there are some who have come to believe that taking the words “Merry Christmas” out of banks constitutes a “war on Christmas.”

“War on Christmas” seems like a stretch to me; either that or some sort of weird attempt to make people feel bad. Such sour thinking is a “war on magic” and I wish those folks would find a worthier cause or at least one that wasn’t a killjoy.

As an aside, anyone who read that last sentence and muttered “darn political correctness” needs to sign up for remedial classes on magic.

Magical knowing

Maybe we all could use magical thinking; although, now that I think about it, “magical thinking” has gotten a bad rap of late. People often use the phrase “magical thinking” when referring to a thought process of weak cause and effect. I invite you to look up the term in Wikipedia like I did. The site represented the term as terminology used in psychology and anthropology.

I stopped reading because I was sure the rest had nothing to do with sparkling Christmas lights on a tall evergreen tree. Besides, it was too tempting to go down the path of magical thinking being the current fashion of thinking in our land.

This is Christmas and not the time to complain, wring hands or rant on about the state of our country. We all could use a break.

Keeping the faith in the ultimate good will of people can be exhausting when everyday someone is publicly ridiculed and humiliated because they hold different beliefs whether religious, political or whatever. Tiring, when everyday someone is demeaned for their ethnicity and/or gender.

We are angry and dispense our anger on others to relieve it. We make enemies like people make cookies from prepackaged dough. It’s too easy and requires little thought.

None of it is easy and it all requires thought. I wish I had the magic answer; I wish you did but I know it requires faith and work to come together with the intent to grant and preserve mutual respect and dignity while we work through issues of our time.

I think that’s not magical thinking; it’s magical knowing. Knowing that we will reach a critical mass of good will toward others, not just men as the Christmas song says. And not just Christians.

There is a rescue in the meantime.

We bought our own laser lights on sale after last Christmas. Several tall evergreens near our home are sparkling with lights. We must sit inside in the dark or go outside to see all their splendor. So worth it, especially, if one is at all grumpy.

Wishing magic and joy to you and yours this season. Merry Christmas.

Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at