“Yeah, do you believe in magic?
Yeah, believe in the magic of a young girl’s soul
Believe in the magic of rock and roll
Believe in the magic that can set you free
Oh, talkin’ ’bout magic…” -The Lovin’ Spoonful, 1965
I was thinking about magic the other day, after listening to a bothersome mother denounce the “magical” customs of Christmas as “lies she refused to tell her children.” This really rattled the inner lobes of my brain. After all, my fondest memories of being a kid involved magical things, like flying reindeer, wishing on dandelions, Mork from Ork, Disney World, and the Yellow Brick Road. Thinking about these morsels of magic made me think of times spent hanging out in the most magical car. It made me think that what kids really need, in this modern world, is less reality and more magic.
I grew up in Topsham, a small town in Maine. Many weekends in the late 1970s, my aunt Nancy whirled into our driveway, in her amazing blue American Motor’s car. It had to be a one-of a kind, with its two orange stripes running down the sides, and the Levi jeans seats stitched with “bullet shell” buttons. I loved that car, and I cherished weekends when she picked me up to go out for adventures. I’d climb into the back and give those denim seats a good bounce.
Before we left the driveway, I’d flop my body over the front seat, where Nancy had a little wooden Buddha glued to the dash. She told me if I rubbed his belly I’d have good luck. I rubbed it, each swirl of my tiny finger anticipating the good fortune that was sure to ensue. When I threw myself back on the rear seat, a silver sparkle always caught my eye. Looking down, under the floor mat in the back seat, I found a pocket full of coins.”Boy, that guy works fast,” I allegedly told my aunt the first time I rubbed the belly and discovered the treasures. In those magic car years, I scooped up a good collection of quarters, nickels, and dimes.
It was magic, and I believed it. When I learned that my aunt planted those coins there, it didn’t shatter me, and I didn’t condemn her as a liar. I just grew up and had fond memories of magical times.
When my own kids were little, the magic car was long gone, but Aunt Nancy still found ways to share the twinkle and anticipation of magic with them. The kids spent summers running along the coastal Maine rocks on Birch Island, a magical summer retreat in itself. They found beautiful, shiny rocks in blues, purples, and reds. They shrieked in glee to find these jewels, contriving spectacular stories to explain how they came to wash up on the shore. They never knew that Aunt Nancy, the magic maker, sprinkled those gems in the nooks and crannies while the tide was out.
Those who create magic are not liars, and to condemn magic is a travesty. Magic gives children hope and excitement and elation. Some of the best books I read as a kid were filled with magic– Where the Wild Things Are, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Puff the Magic Dragon, Taran the Wanderer, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, just to name a few. Magic was spectacular to me!
Kids are forced to grow up and face realities at alarmingly young ages. Why not let them believe in magic wands and wishing on stars? Why not preserve their innocence as long as we can? Why take away the opportunity for wonder and imagination?
Do you believe in magic? I do…