The Eve of Magic

Cars choke the roads in metal ribbons, people rushing, doing last minute shopping and preparations.  In our house, we joke about Christmas being ‘the end of the world’.  The shops are only closed for a day, but it may as well be Armageddon, as the shelves are stripped bare in a strange kind of frenzy.  I allow myself a smile of relief, as Winston and I meander past the shoppers, trapped in their vehicles and some semblance of what they feel Christmas should be.  We turn off the road, away from it all into the Dene.  The Dene is empty when we arrive, and we see only two other people in the time we’re there.  It strikes me as sad that the roads are full, while the green space – the breathing space – is empty.

I find Christmas Eve the most magical day of the holidays.  It is a day steeped in possibilities.  A night filled with expectation.  Magical stories of shepherds following angels, kings journeying from far off lands, a family-to-be seeking shelter in the darkness.  Listening into the night for the tinkle of bells, bells that I am almost sure I can hear, as Father Christmas journeys high above the rooftops.  The leaving out of carrots for the reindeer, a little something for Santa, listening again for his elusive arrival down the chimney.

My beliefs have changed since I was brought up on those stories, but Christmas is very much an eclectic festival for me.  The birth of sun and earth at the solstice is woven inextricably with the story of the nativity, the story of Santa, the magic of song and story, memory and tradition.  And Christmas Eve is not a time for rushing, it is a time for revelling in the waiting and the magic.  So before the evening comes and I gather with my little family in a darkness warmed by fairy lights, I return to the earth, to imbibe the silence of nature.

There will be no white Christmas this year.  Instead, autumn seems to have returned for a last fling.  Warm golden light and the hint of pink in the clouds.  A rising wind that doesn’t howl, but hums tunefully.  The pond was a sheet of ice only a week ago, scores of ducks skating towards me looking for food.  Now it is liquid light.  The black headed gulls that usually rest on the jetty are elsewhere.  Moorhens graze on the grass, mallards repose on the banks of the pond.  I hear the chirrup of tits in the trees, the occasional bugle of a moorhen.  The rushes are always beautiful at this time of year, tall golden stalks with seedheads of siena and fluff.  They bow in unison in the gentling wind.  A rustle of leaves whirls slowly on the grass, echoing autumn’s jig.  The burn trickles, rippling, with slices of ochre where the sun catches it.

There is usually a hush, a kind of stillness in the dene.  Not far away, those same cars stream over the bridge, but you don’t notice them here.  It nestles in a bowl of tranquillity.  There is often a sense that something unexpected might happen.  And this is the kind of feeling I get from Christmas Eve.  I know what I have planned.  I know, roughly, what tomorrow will bring.  But still, there are mysteries waiting in the darkness.  Out there, in the land of magic, the land that we only catch glimpses of.   Somewhere there is a magical land of elves and a man in a crimson coat.  Somewhere there is a desert land in which a star guides kings.  Somewhere, there is an underworld where a goddess lies resting after birthing the sun.  You might say that none of these things exist, that they are myth, imagination, stories we tell to make ourselves feel better in the bleak midwinter.  But to me, the truth of it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that, for one night, I can believe in every one of them and glimpse just a shimmer of their magic.

108 thoughts on “The Eve of Magic

  1. A lovely Christmas post, Andrea. I too love the magic of the season, when all things seem possible. We have snow here in New England, coated in ice. Hoping we get a bit of a thaw today to relieve the trees. Happy Holidays to you!

    Like

  2. Andrea don’t tell all the people in cars about the natural world about us. Someone will turn those lovely places into resorts with WiFi 😦 Funnily, much as I ignore Christmas and all its works these days, you can’t escape the fact that Christmas Eve is a little special.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I will part with my eyes to read a language like that. From the opening image of the steel ribbons on the street till the lyrical end where belief and reality fuse into one pulsating melody, I remained transfixed, transcended and transmuted into your words themselves. Merry Christmas, Andrea!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is beautiful, Andrea–I don’t really feel the magic you describe but your writing makes me want to! I’d love to be out in nature today . . . but we are getting inches of snow and bitter wind chills so I think i’ll stay by the fire and think about magic. Have a beautiful day!

    Like

  5. Not to be a contrarian, Andrea, but over here in the U.S., there’s a glut of people at some parks (national parks, mostly), such that there has been talk (and a documentary that I watched not too long ago) that makes the case for asking fewer people to visit places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and so on. That was probably something that was kind of disheartening about visiting the GC this summer. It was steamy July, but still there were throngs and throngs of people; it’s heavily commercialised and, thus, I feel nature loses some of its potency (not only in and of itself, with the increased foot traffic, pollution, littering, graffiti/vandalism, and so on from all the creeps in the world, but in the eyes of those of us who find meaning in its solitude and wisdom, far from the madding (and maddening!) crowds, as it were. I’m afraid it’s a human overpopulation issue, but, nevertheless, I revel in reading your walking and creative pieces, suffused with organic life outside the human bubble, where there seems to be time to think and explore in more relaxing ways. America needs a wordsmith like you not to mention a Wordsworth to inspire us to love nature, even if that means exploring it only from afar (but also making better life choices to safeguard it). Anyway, backing off my soapbox now . . . Happy holidays and wishing much magic to you and your family, Andrea!

    Like

    • I can understand that Leigh – my little green spaces aren’t the kind that people flock to, but I can imagine the famous national parks would attract lots of people. It’s a little like our beaches on Christmas and Boxing Day, the coast is often mobbed, so we tend to stay away at those times – it doesn’t have quite the same calming influence when over-run by lots of people 🙂 I hope you’re having a great holiday Leigh, it was good to have you visit.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful post, Andrea and I love the idea of ‘ glimpse just a shimmer of their magic‘. We celebrate on Christmas Eve and felt this magic all day and evening… blessed time indeed with warmth, love and laughter. Hoping you’re having a lovely Christmas and New Year. It’s been a delight reading your posts this year..always leaving me thoughtful and enriched. You’re a Gifted writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely tranquil moment, remembering that Christmas is about magic and myth and ancient stories, those special memories often forgotten in the chaos. I wish you a peaceful, magical Christmas. 🙂

    Like

  8. I started writing a comment just now and then someone telephoned me to wish me a happy Christmas and New Year. By the time I’d had a half-hour conversation, my comment had vanished (I think), so please forgive me, Andrea, if it got sent, half-written, and is awaiting your moderation! Anyway, what I was saying was that I don’t go near the shops in December, as it’s all too much for me. Also, I have to stay away from people’s germs, so that I have a singing voice for Christmas, which I did this year (not so, for the last few years, though). Thus, the angels got heralded many times over with that very high descant, and hopefully my choir created magic for many people. We did get some thank you gifts, so I’m guessing we lifted some hearts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love all the stories and the nativity was so much a part of our tradition ( growing up Catholic- I think there’s a book called that lol). – And the thought of Mother Ceres slumbering till her daughter returns from her dark lover! Beautifully expressed and appreciated from the other Christmas Junkie!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Another wonderful, lyrical, sensitive posting. We went to the beach this Christmas to visit relatives. On Saturday, we had a one day interlude of late spring/early summer–with temps in the 60s. Lots of people were on the beach and two teenage girls, wearing wetsuits, were sharing a surfboard. The younger one (who may actually been about 10) didn’t get her turn. She went crying to her parents that her sister was not sharing. I did not stay long enough to know if she got sympathy for her plight or not. By Christmas Eve, the high was in the 40s and it has gotten marginally colder each day. Not supposed to get above freezing tomorrow.

    Like

  11. I still believe in magic, Andrea – especially at this time of year. I was pleased that the only time away from home on Christmas Eve was a quick visit to my Mum and then to church for Midnight Mass. Your beautiful prose would have been lovely to read on Christmas Eve too, but I was otherwise engaged and didn’t go on-line for a couple of days over the holiday. I hope you have had a peaceful and magical few days and that 2018 will be just what you’d wish it to be. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nice post, Andrea. I am looking forward now, on the train returning from Washington state to Southern California, to catching up on your blog posts after finally catching up on some of Luanne’s. I have been away from them for too long. What a treat to read your descriptions here and to see the lovely photos. Christmas Eve and Day were magical for my family, since the snow began early evening on the eve, then continued gently all day on Christmas. It felt like a divine gift to all of us. However, I am drawn to the sun, so I am happy that we will soon be back home where the sun is usually shining. I hope your holidays were pleasant.

    Like

  13. This is beautiful – your words made me remember listening for Santa and all the magic of Christmas Eve. I agree it can still be felt in the air, especially when we’re walking through the woods instead of stores. Wishing you a new year filled with magic!

    Like

  14. The whooshing of the rushes is so much more beautiful and serene than the whooshing rush that people place themselves in, to empty those shelves. Oh, how I envy you your silence into the woods during this time of wishhhhhful thinking – thinking we can catch a glimpse of Christmas magic. I think you DID catch the glimpse, in your Dene. That’s where I feel the magic the most – the sprinkling of stardust and the sparkling fairies flitting here and there. In nature.
    Not in cars or highways or stores, for sure. I find those places mind-numbing, figuratively and literally.
    Happy New Year, Andrea. I wish you peaceful magic all year long.

    Like

  15. Last night, I thought of you as I was shoveling snow from the sidewalk, with the local church bells playing carols, and a very brief but perfect chorus of Great Horned Owls. 🙂 Hope the magic of the season carries you far, Andrea!

    Like

  16. Wishing you a very Happy and Peaceful New Year Andrea! Your post as always transports me to dream- land. You are able to recreate the magic of Christmas eve for me through your beautiful writing. The picture you paint of the Dene is as magical as fairy lights on a Christmas tree and rushes swaying in the breeze (I can gaze and gaze at them and not tire). Thank you for sharing the beauty that you see around you with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. One of the most beautiful descriptions of a world waiting for Christmas I’ve ever read, Andrea. So lovely. I had to look up the word “dene” :). Those kinds of words are also magical for me.

    Like

  18. What a beautiful way to spend Christmas — in the open and welcoming space of nature! During this season I too am looking forward to “revelling in the waiting and the magic” that is hidden during the cold months. Your lyrical post has me eager to go walking in the woods.

    Like

  19. You capture the spirit of Christmas Eve beautifully, Andrea. And as always, there’s magic in the details. I can hardly wait to read a book authored by you. Your writing is simply marvellous. You make even the mundane magical.

    Happy new year to you and your family.

    Like

  20. Magical. I love this time too but I have found if I meditate early on Christmas morning before the mad preparations it is so still as if the world of rushing about culminates in at least a few hours of no one going anywhere or doing anything! Happy 2018 to you.

    Like

  21. Ah, you capture the magical air of Christmas Eve so well, with its hints of promise ahead and a feel of comfort. I like descriptions so much. Nice to be reading one another’s blogs again, dear Andrea. May 2018 be amazing for you xo

    Like

  22. A lovely and magical piece you share, Andrea, thank you so much. Your descriptions of the hustle of Christmas Eve, and the shoppers, combined with the magic of nature and the various wild creatures, combined with the myths. You bring it all alive with your brilliant art, and help us to see the beauty of it all. And so much magic. Thank you for the magic, Andrea.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You know how they say, “Christmas is in the heart and… it can be celebrated everyday… and all of that” but like you I too, believe that the magic only happens on a specific day. We are so used to the stories and festive customs that it automatically fills our hearts and minds with the joy of that special day. Sometimes I wonder, when this special day gets over…that’s it!…oh, no it’s over again… and then I get sad, only with the hope that there’ll come another, another year.
    Loved the description of sitting in the darkness with fairy lights. I love that!
    Hope you celebrated it wonderfully, Andrea. 🙂

    Like

I love comments, please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.