I got to feeling a little out of sorts a few weeks ago. In fact I almost felt sorry for myself and I am not a person given to such things. But I got to worrying about money and dwelling on what was lost and feeling frightened of tomorrow and altogether a little static until one morning I woke up and I said to myself: No. No worrying, or dwelling, feeling spooked or static. None of it. Just look for the magic, Missy.
And so. because I am a person who likes to do what she is told, I did that very thing. I started to look for the magic, because in December there is magic hidden around very corner and you only have to open your eyes and start saying yes to discover that magic will fall around your head like so much glittery snow.
The tree might still be in the loft because there is no-one here to help me get it down, I’m stressed to the hilt about gifts I have not yet ordered and this might possibly be my first Christmas without any family at all beyond Finn who will be in and out of work, but I am stuffing each day with as much festive lovely as I can and the universe has listened and is blessing me with all manner of happy surprises so I am juggling baubles and tinsel and smiling at the world because I do believe that when we smile, the whole world smiles back.
The weekend before last I said yes to a date to a man with a beard. We met on the platform at Victoria Station, Manchester, both of us bundled up like snowmen because it was bitterly cold. But there was cherry mulled wine to be drunk on barstools in the markets and the gorgeous buzz of Christmas in the air. We laughed and chatted and headed for a Portuguese Tapas restaurant he had booked, where he chose the food and I picked the wine and we swooned over a green dipping sauce neither of us could identify, and the afternoon grew dark and it started to snow and I had a veritable meltdown inside my head and we stepped out into a Winter Wonderland of twinkling fairy light and falling snow and there it was: magic! So we muddled through the crowds while snowdrops lit up the dark sky and we squeezed into a busy bar and drank gin in plant pots and held hands as we headed back to the station where he kissed me on the icy platform and I walked away flushed with cold and joy and certain that despite it all we were not a match made in heaven and it didn’t matter at all because it had truly been the loveliest of days.
It didn’t matter either that my train was cancelled and I had to wait on the platform, because my nephew who lives in Manchester came running in to hug me, and I fussed about him wearing shorts in the snow and we drank coffee and I did my Mother Hen routine and then I was on the train and there was a lady called Georgina, who was all partied out and fell asleep on my shoulder, while a trio of men with beer cans sang A Fairytale of New York and the whole carriage was alive with silly giddy happy, and I got home to find Finn and his friend Harry waiting for me with a cup of tea ready and I shivered with cold I couldn’t shake off for two days and that didn’t matter either because boys their age are such fun and I was snuggled under a blanket Finn draped over me, and Harry was telling his stories and nothing really mattered at all because all was well with the world, and the tea was piping hot.
And so it is. Each night I have prepared a single glass of mulled wine and sipped it by the light of the twinkles wrapped around the twigs in the corner of the living room currently passing for a Christmas tree. I have watched one ridiculously romantic Christmas movie after the other and thrown Meep a little birthday party of extra special food, because my little kitteny boy is now two and still rather tiny regardless. I have drank blissful dark chocolate on my annual shopping adventure with Kath and sat in the cinema eyes dazzled by the absolute wonder that is Willy Wonka, thrilled by it and smiling into the dark like a child, then coming out into an unexpected storm and screaming with laughter as we almost blew away on the way back to the car. Friends have been and nibbled at treats piled on to my coffee table and little bits of Christmas have been shoved through my letterbox: cards from far flung places, little gifts not for opening until Christmas day and a pop-up teeny Christmas tree from a man I dated last year, I have already manged to kill because I popped it above a radiator and lo and behold it withered to dead. But t’was beautiful while it lasted, it really was. So thank you Mister. Thank you for still being my friend despite my inability to commit to anything at all. Thank you for being a little bit of magic on an otherwise dull Thursday.
It is all this. And it is simply being alive. For this week I was l almost dead. I headed out into another storm, through the back lanes to get Finn, and there just metres from the bonnet of the car, a tree came crashing down, bringing a power line with it and sending magical, terrifying flashes of blue and green fireworks through the bowing trees as I sat and stared at in shaky astonished relief.
Magic. Everyhere. Despite it all. Despite a heart still aching for the Christmas’s I used to treasure. Despite a yearning for what was I sometimes feel like I might never be able to switch off. I just have to keep looking for it. Because it is there. It really is. It is in Finn’s eyes as he watched the arrival of our new Doctor Who, and in the pretty twinkle of the Christmas tree festooned with lights in the cottage over the road. It is looking forward to a pre-Christmas night out with two beautiful woman, and wishing and hoping that my Dad will be able to make the long journey up here for even half a day so I can wish him Happy Christmas with a hug. It is in a phone that buzzes with voice notes that make me smile and friends that care and it is watching my boy become a man before my eyes, so self-sufficient and capable, and hoping that Stevie, the boy I once had, who will have turned eighteen this month ( Happy Birthday, Sweetheart), has turned out to be as wonderful as I always knew he would be, despite my sadness at the chance that I might never know and will never again fill his Christmas Eve box with silly pyjamas and festive cider as I do for Finn , nor give it to him on the Little Christmas we all used to share before he went home to his Mum.
It is all of this. And it is always, always counting our blessings despite everything. For gratitude is its own special sort of magic and we are all the better for it when we pop it under the Christmas tree (we might not yet have!).
Keep looking for the magic, I promise you, it makes all the difference. Look for the magic, Missy. Always look for the magic, won’t you?