How to create more magic in your holidays, regardless of what you believe
You don’t have to believe in magic yourself to create magic. But, if you would like to know WHY it is so important that children believe in magic, I encourage you to read the Green Mama article on it. In the article a child psychologist discusses why magic is so important for children: even to the point of lying about the tooth fairy, Switch Witch, or Santa Claus.
1. You can create your own Santa Claus.
“We don’t do the Santa Claus thing because we are Jewish,” says Dr. Cohen, the child psychologist from the above mentioned article. Instead they have created a sense of magic in other ways, including the Tooth Fairy and the Switch Witch that exchanges gifts for candy, but in her own, unique witchy way.
In my family, we took it one step further and created a Gift Witch. My eldest daughter explains her to friends as “Just like Santa Claus, but she comes whether you are good or not.” We like her because she isn’t attached to a particular day or religion, which works well for our multi-faith family and for times when presents get stuck in customs (as they did last year.) Besides coming around the Winter solstice, our Gift Witch comes and takes Candy and leaves presents at Halloween, provides her own little contribution at birthdays, and will occasionally show up at other times as well.
I have friends who have helped along the magic by developing Easter Bunnies, fairies, St. Nicholas, house brownies (elves), and more. The sky is the limit. The research suggests that kids will believe in these creations–long past the point of reasoning–as long as they are given evidence to believe.
2. Create a holiday box.
Whatever your faith, marking the passing of seasons or celebrating festivals is part of developing a healthy relationship to the passing of time in children. One way to help bring a sense of festivity to a home is to create a holiday box. Learn this and other tips about creating more meaning in this short article. But, in short, almost all religions and cultures have some sort of celebration of bringing light into darkness that happens around the time of the Winter Solstice. Thus, whatever your religion, your holiday box might hold lights, candles and holders, or ornaments to catch the light.
The key to a holiday box is that they are special and beautiful things that come out just for the holiday season and are packed away afterwards, this keeps the items special and from becoming clutter. Our holiday box holds music boxes, two menorahs, Christmas tree ornaments, and little crystals and felted items for our nature table. My Aunt Patti, who was a Catholic nun for many years, speaks with special reverence about her holiday box, which includes a nativity. “I place my Baby Jesus in my living room and do something special for Him everyday [during Advent] and I place a piece of straw in the manger, so on Christmas morning He has a comfortable crib to sleep in.”
3. Create moments of delight.
The power of magic moments is that even as adults, we look forward to them year after year and they connect us back to the joys of our childhood and to our children as they grow. Many, many of the people that I spoke with about how they create magic around the holidays talked about music. These included going to hear choirs, going to church specifically for the music, playing special albums that they keep in their holiday box, heading out to carol, and inviting family and friends over to sing together.
There are many other ways to create this moments of delight. My friend Noelle is a Christmas baby and she is an expert in creating Christmas magic. She celebrates in a number of ways that I find very inspiring, including, taking every Friday off of work between Thanksgiving and Christmas to bake, decorate, and make handmade gifts. She would invite her mom over to “enjoy the creation of the holiday, not the rush.” She also hosts a holiday party every year on the Saturday before Christmas to gather “friends and fill the house with good cheer to last throughout winter.” And there is the tree. “We go to a local tree farm to cut down our own tree and we decorate it with wrapped candies, chocolate covered pretzels, and real candles.”
Dr. Cohen shared that in her family they celebrate Hannukah and the Solstice. “We take night time walks and fascinate ourselves with the stars and the moon. We say the [Hannukah] prayers. We sing and have beautiful music and light the candles and turn out all the lights and have this little light in the deepest, darkest moments of the year. We make cookies, we bond with the family, we heat our house with the wood burning stove and the kids help make the fire. We stare at the fireplace instead of a TV. We talk about it. We read together. We make tea.” She also says that while she doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she takes her children to admire other people’s Christmas lights. And, while her children don’t go to a Waldorf school, she loves their festivals, and she takes them to their festivals. “There is an essence of beauty and magic that comes in the making of beauty,” she observes.
Interestingly enough, thought not one person I spoke with for the article shared a common religion, they all shared a similar reverence for the rituals of winter. These rituals are important for children and for grown-ups as they help to connect us to each other, to tradition, and to our own sense of awe at life. Sharing childhood stories, reading favourite books together, sharing music, or taking a nightly walk to see the changing of the moon are all ways to experience a bit of the sacred around the Winter Holidays. It is these magic moments that are remembered far more than any other gifts.
Article by Manda Aufochs Gillespie. Get inspired regularly by signing up for the kick-ass newsletter.
Photo by Vanessa Filley. Buy the Green Mama book and own your own inspiring information, necessary information, and beautiful photos.