My favorite memory of Christmas is not one from my own childhoold but that of my niece and nephew. I grew up in San Francisco and was lucky enough to take school field trips to the symphony, opera and ballet. But my niece and nephew didn't and I wanted to make sure that they would have some of the same experiences that I did. So when my niece was about 7 and my nephew 5, I bought tickets to the Nutcracker Ballet through the studio where I went. The owner was a former ballerina from the SF Ballet and always made sure that tickets were available for her local students.
So we made the 2 1/2 hour drive to San Francisco. We drove across the Bay Bridge and through the Financial District. My niece, having grown up in a small town, asked me about all the people who lived in the tall buildings and was amazed that no one lived there, that they lived somewhere else and just came here to work. Then, we drove through Chinatown, where she could barely stutter out the words, "This is so exciting!"
We parked and found our seats which were pretty good and close to the stage. The story began about Clara and her beloved gift, the Nutcracker. It had been broken after a tussle and she bandaged him up and placed him under the Christmas tree. Then, the magic of the story began. The Christmas tree on the stage began to grow and grow and grow until it filled the height of the stage at the War Memorial Building.
My nephew's eyes were opened wide in amazement and he looked at me and asked if the tree had grown "by magic". I thought of the stage hands who must be running around below the stage, the equipment and the machinery that must be working away to make this special effect happen and how I would explain all of this to him.
Then, as I looked in those 5-year old eyes full of wonder, I smiled and said, "Yes, honey, it's magic."