Watch a child at Christmas time. Carefully.
It starts with the imagining of what Christmas might bring, whether it be gifts or family, and it continues through Christmas and beyond. And when you extract the essence of that entire process it really isn’t about gifts. It’s about dreams and dreaming.
We are more than a little bit justifiably chastised for our modern emphasis on giving and getting gifts at Christmas. As adults our ideas for those gifts are often about things, whether they be a new blouse, a watch, a book, or even a computer. For children however, even if the gifts they hope to receive are physical and tangible, they are about far more than the items themselves. They provide a gateway to the imagination and the endless possibilities that lay in that rainbow world.
The toys received are the obvious means of getting this, as a doll or game or electric car offer children the chance to add their own created world around those, an amazing form of augmented reality. Books do that too, which is of course part of why they are also excellent gifts, with their ability to bring those children into a new world they’ve never known before. But even new clothes, artfully chosen with the spirit of the boy or girl who get them, can be a gateway to imagining where they might go or be with those items.
I remember so many of those types of gifts from my own childhood. Whether it be a toy race car I drove over the imaginary streets on chairs and couches, along the driveway and in the bushes, and through the closets and kitchens of my youth. In the pages of the first Sherlock Holmes book I received, with its gateway to a London puzzle world of steamy fog-filled cobblestone alleys and adventures I had never known. And even when I was given a tiny reel-to-reel Aiwa branded tape recorder, which allowed me to create and record my first very own radio plays, complete with sound effects.
Christmas was then a time where the gifts were only the start, catalysts to unchain the mind and heart and allow imagining a world where we all could be and do anything.
In this Christmas, where we as adults have so many heavier thoughts preoccupying us, it seems like a good time to find find a way back into our hearts and so powerful creative powers. To look around all we have in hearth, home, gifts, and family, to take stock and let our souls take flight just like the children.
To dream something big and wonderful again, both for ourselves and those close to us. Because it is at the start of dreams that our future begins.
Merry Christmas everyone.