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The Magic of Christmas

Colored lights from our indoor Christmas tree...magical!
Many years ago, when I was a young boy, a local store in my hometown of Grand Rapids would release a special Christmas album, a different one each year. I remember one in particular; the name of the album (a vinyl 33 1/3 LP) was entitled, "The Magic of Christmas." I still have it from over 40 years ago. Just looking at the cover of that old album, a picture of softly glowing candles, brings back so many boyhood memories of early Christmas celebrations I shared with my mom, dad, and twin brother.

As a little boy, I remember carefully collecting all the outdoor holly wreaths, garlands, and Christmas lights -- several strings with hundreds of lights on them -- on Thanksgiving Day, decorating the outside of our home after the big family dinner. If it snowed by Thanksgiving, that made it even more special as the warm glow of those old fashioned C-7 bulbs against the falling snow somehow made the moment feel that much more special. I absolutely loved Christmas as a little boy. I still do today.

Now, our own two little boys have picked up that tradition, begging us for permission to mount the steep stairs to the attic where all those boxes of magical Christmas things are quietly kept of a year. The chorus of "pleeeeeeze, can we go up in the attic....." started even before Thanksgiving. We allowed them to go up and carefully get the boxes down, staging them in strategic spaces in preparation for decorating practically every inch of the house.

Thanksgiving Day this year was warm. So warm, in fact, that we took out our old fishing boat for one last  spin on Lake Leelanau across the street. Hardly the character of day one might think of to decorate for Christmas. Instead of decorating according to family tradition, we went fishing.

While we only managed to land a couple of nibbles (but no fish), we did see some beautiful sights that day. Sunny and in the low 60's, an enormous bald eagle was coasting near us over the south end of the lake, hunting for fish (just like us). Finding none, she moved off to the east toward our home and the more hilly terrain where she could take advantage of the updrafts rising up and inland off the lake. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful sight we were rewarded with on that warm day. The Christmas lights and the decorating would just have to wait.

We didn't have to wait long as a cold front the following day brought with it a little snow by the following week; that's all it took to get the boys in the mood to empty all those boxes of ornaments and Christmas lights they had dutifully pulled down earlier. They diligently went to work, carefully placing candles in all the front windows, garlands and lights around all the porch railing, holly wreaths strung with lights hung on the coach lights in front of the garage, and beautiful colored lights -- hundreds of them -- around the large butterfly bushes in the front gardens. Watching them excitedly dive into decorating so reminded me of the excitement I felt as a little boy; all those memories came flooding back as if it were yesterday. But not unlike the old woman in the movie "Titanic" I, too, may look into the mirror and realize that "the reflection has changed a little." While the 'reflection' has indeed changed, the Magic of Christmas -- especially one spent Up North with family -- has not.

Dancing Sunlight on Lake Leelanau
Perhaps one of the great gifts of being a parent (among so many), is the handing down of the rich traditions of youth and life to the next generation. Shannon and I feel so privileged to be able to do that Up North. To raise our boys in an area marked with profound natural beauty and grace, teaching them to respect and appreciate all that makes living here so very special; something to be honored and cherished.

As we now look out over a cold, snowy Up North landscape, we are warmed by wonderful memories of not only past Christmases with family and friends, but of new memories of growing boys who love to decorate everything for the holidays, and still make snowmen, and go sledding, and make snow angels in freshly fallen snow whilst trying to catch falling snow flakes on their tongue...then come in from the cold to the warmth of a roaring fire in our old field stone fireplace. It is a simple life filled with love and  admiration for what we feel so privileged to enjoy Up North -- and share with you; it's all very much a part of the Magic of Christmas. Soli Deo Gloria.

2010 - Super Moon rising over the back of our home.

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