Walls of Barbies and the magic of hope

DATELINE: December 2-4, 2020, from Lady Proverbs, somewhere on the Oregon coast

I’ve had some magical Christmas moments in my life, and have been thinking about what qualifies as a magical moment. What’s the kismetic combination of empirical happenings that bring The Magic? And why do we seem to need these — even in non-COVID years? What is the genesis of a magical moment, and what does it provide to us mere mortals? Is it a true, positive thing, or just a silly little trinket of a moment or an evening or a holiday, that’s little more than being handed a creamy, warm rum and eggnog on a cold, snowy night, in the coolest bar in a hip downtown restaurant? Yummy but fleeting.

There is certainly something to be said about snow during the pre-Christmas weeks and days that acts as a petri dish to magical moments. In our Boston days there were the visits to FAO Schwartz on Boylston Street, where The Husband and I would find gifts for our nieces and nephews. Outside it was cold and snowy, and we had the benefit of great Tex-Mex food and margaritas to gird our loins. The store was a child’s delight, but pretty damn cool for adults too. We’d always spend too much time and money there, spurred on by the generosity of a tequila-inspired moment, and the music and toy trains and perfect reading spaces in the children’s section. There was tacit agreement among all of the customers that buying over-priced toys and books was a good thing, so mentioning how much something cost was tres declasse.

There was a wall of Barbies there too! A fucking wall! And these Barbies did cool shit, like be astronauts and doctors and vets, each with their own wardrobe. When I was a Barbie groupie, back in the ’60s, we had far fewer choices of clothing and accessories for our little curvaceous friend, purchased from the grocery store near our house, which also had toys and fabric and that type of miscellany for sale. Now it would be called one-stop shopping or something, but on a smaller scale. Ken just had to get used to Barbie wearing the same clothes all the time and having some type of unknown career, although it was assumed that she had oodles of money. It was hell because one of her extremely small plastic high-heels would always get lost and that was the end of that outfit!! Those little things were so darn cute!! I wanted a pair but of course little girls didn’t wear things like that back in the day. Well, except for those cheap plastic ones which I got a few times for Christmas with some type of red, whorish outfit that was just ok back then to let little girls play in. It’s even on 8mm film. I look cute and ridiculous. Kind of makes me wonder now how all of our mothers were ok with their daughters playing with a completely stacked, gorgeous blond (sometimes with black hair back then) who wasn’t married, dated both Ken and GI Joe, had her own car and house, and spent all of her money on amazing outfits and trips in the Barbie car.

I’ve spent time during Christmas seasons in Germany and Switzerland, where shop windows made the Christmas spirit rise up to a crescendo, especially when it was snowing and little pastry and chocolate shops, and restaurants and corner bars drew us in to thaw out with flaky strudel, nut clusters, jager schnitzel and boozy coffees with sweet cream and a candy cane. Every shop window was a miniature Santa Land or forest with elves and animals, or an elaborate nativity scene. It was Christmas crack and that holiday magic completely seduced me and made me feel like something was definitely going right in the world.

But how does it do that? How does some combination of memories, decorations, music, food and snow get us all giddy inside? Well, some of us anyway, not all of us. And I’ve had years where I didn’t really get that Christmas spirit feeling flowing at all, and others where it reach a crescendo, a true Yule orgasm.

Well, after much contemplation, I’ve come to the conclusion that feeling the holiday spirit is feeling hope in the most visceral way possible. Your heart flutters, you smile so big the corners of your mouth feel all stretched, and little bolts of love are sent out to whoever is there with you; or if no one is there, for the world at large to feel. Hope is the magic raised by Christmas spirit, or the spirit of whatever holiday that you celebrate. All the world hopes this time of year, with the spirit of rebirth lighting the way those embracing Kwanzaa affirmations, inviting the ancestors in for Hanukah, singing with Bing on Christmas eve, or any other cultural ceremony that gives birth to a magical moment. It happens all over the world, a diversity of hope and celebration of everything that is right in our families, cultures and everyday lives. Hey…yeah, we ARE the world! Cue the chorus!

While I’m too old to be able to legitimately believe in Santa, I can believe in hope. It’s my gift to myself. Without it the bleakness would be too much to bear. And the world needs all of us. So go make some hope. Fuck the dark side.

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