Restoring holiday magic

Published 10:03 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2019

By Nathan Rice

It’s the most magical time of the year, especially for children. Twinkling lights are everywhere, trees are brought inside and decorated, sweet treats are in abundance, there’s a break from school, families gather, and there’s great anticipation about the gifts under the tree. Children know that “in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

Christmas during childhood can be a special time, but things can happen that rob some of the magic from the holidays.

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It has been years since Patricia and Timothy’s father left home, but they still remember him and long for the days he was present. They mention him throughout the year, but the holidays increase the memories of their father. Some of their Christmas magic left when their father exited their lives.

Richard will be experiencing his first Christmas without his grandfather, and there will be two empty seats where his cousins once sat for every Christmas dinner. It’s the first time they will not join him at the kids’ table for the family feast. He has experienced a lot of loss in one year, and this Christmas will not be the same as the ones he’s had in the past. Richard lost some of the magic of the holidays when he said goodbye to three of his family members.  

I wish it weren’t this way. Children should have sugarplums dancing in their heads and be peeking out the window to see if reindeer really know how to fly. Unfortunately, children are not immune to cruel twists in life. We may not be able to fix the tragedies they face, but there are things we can do to help them in the holiday season.

The first thing we can do is to be there for them during the holidays. December is a busy month as we try to fit holiday parties, decorating, baking and shopping in our already busy schedule. We must not allow this busyness to keep us from being near to those who could use our support. Consider what is most important, and do not be afraid to cut out some things from your schedule so you can spend more time with those who are hurting.

Next, consider some things you can do to help restore some Christmas cheer. Think of some activities that you can do with them or events that you can attend together that may help bring back some of the magic.    

Part of the magic of the holidays comes from the time spent with the people we love doing things we do only during the holiday season. Take them to see a light display, build a gingerbread house, ask them to help you decorate your house, let them help you bake some cookies or pop some popcorn and watch their favorite holiday movie together.

The idea is not to simply replicate all their holiday traditions of the past. The goal is to find things you can do with them, whether they continue their previous traditions or begin something new.

There is nothing we can do to fix many of the things that have damaged the holiday magic of the past. We can, however, do things to add a little bit of holly-jolly back into their Christmas. When we do, perhaps we can see some of that holiday magic return.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at