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Yes, it's been a grim year but let's not forget it had some magic, too

Opinion

The moments that showed the best in people should be cherished even more in what has been a mostly tortuous 2021, writes Madonna King

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Santa Claus’ visit this year, for many, will be hindered by elves sick with Covid-19, reindeers waiting on delayed tests, sleigh border stops and perhaps even quarantine for our portly friend.

So just this once, why don’t we go looking for him?

It’s easy to dismiss the magic of Christmas in a year that has been tortuous. We’ve seen that in the shyness of our toddlers, who don’t understand the power of a smile, hidden behind a mask. We’ve seen it, also, in the eyes of our teens who have had too many rites of passage stolen from them.

In our university students, who were promised these years would be the best in their lives. That’s so hard to understand, as they sit in their bedroom cramming for an exam.

We’ve seen it in delayed engagements, cancelled weddings, and lonely funerals. And in the rooms of our aged care facilities, where some of our oldest and wisest haven’t seen family for months.

But there’s been magic too, and we need to hold onto that this Christmas.

We saw it in September, when three-year-old AJ Alfalak, who has autism and is non-verbal, was found in rugged bush three days after disappearing from his family home near Singleton. And again in November, when four-year-old Cleo Smith was found alive in the middle of the night, after disappearing from a campsite in Western Australia three weeks earlier.

Santa’s magic will be writ large on the faces of their families on Saturday, no matter what presents are parked under the Christmas tree.

The magic sprinkled through 2021 rarely made headlines, which were taken by a pandemic and tallies and vaccine numbers that have become like dull wallpaper.

I saw it on my local Facebook page yesterday, too, when a Mum thanked those who stopped traffic after her son started fitting on a busy road. People, good people, waited with her, called paramedics, and told her it would be okay. And it was. Her son’s home, and she has all the magic she needs.

I saw it at a supermarket in Camp Hill a few weeks ago when a mother, her own trolley brimming with essentials, quietly spoke to the cash register attendant. The gentleman in front of her was then told he need not pay for his groceries. Someone had taken care of them.

He didn’t know who. And that’s the way she wanted it. It was a simple slice of magic.

We saw it for the second year in a row, when parents, especially fathers who were unable to travel for work were home for dinner, and up at dawn to fly a kite with their children, walk the dog or help out with Maths homework.

In our teachers, God bless them, who moved their classes into their lounge rooms and worked so hard to make sure their students – our children – knew they were at the other end of the computer. Perhaps our politicians could deliver a bit of magic there, and boost their pay-packets?

Our police, who’ve manned our borders, chased our stolen cars, and kept us safe. Thank you. Let’s hope for a zero Christmas road toll, because that’s the magic every cop I know will want this holiday season.

To our aged care workers, you are the ‘magic’ our parents and grandparents rely on this Christmas. Talk about turning loaves into fishes? You turn basic wages and staffing levels and conditions into Hogwarts for the elderly; the best kind of magic.

You’ll see magic on the road this afternoon, in the ambulance van that races by breathing life into someone. You might not know them, but we’ll all wish them the magic of Christmas.

We’ll see it in the smiles of our children amongst discarded wrapping paper on Christmas Day, and in the ham and turkey and seafood that lessens the sour taste of the year almost over.

Fingers crossed, we see it in the Boxing Day Test match too.

But even if we don’t, our lives in 2021 have been blanketed in magic. It’s just been a bit harder to find.

Thanks for reading and I hope your Christmas is packed with as much magic as your stocking can hold.

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