On becoming a magician

I’ve never been good at magic tricks. I haven’t the patience to learn: the constant repetition, perfecting each sleight of hand, seems like far too much bother. Even the magic sets you get in crackers are too complicated for me: especially when I could be tucking into mince pies and Bailey’s instead.

No, I am certainly no Paul Daniels. I’m not even Debbie Magee. But this year, for the first time ever,  I will get to do a little bit of magic.

It isn’t a conjuring feat or a disappearing act, and I’m certainly not going to saw anyone in half (I can’t even carve a turkey). No, I am going to perform a wonderful trick, one that I saw every year as a child: the miracle of Christmas morning.

Do you remember it? I’m sure you do. You’d open your eyes in the black winter’s night, and even before you switched on the light, the magic began. Maybe a flash of tinsel at the end of your bed. Maybe the muffled rustle of a stocking being hung from your door: was it your mum? Or was it Santa? You weren’t sure, but you didn’t look, in case you broke the spell.

And in the morning, the miracle. You went downstairs and, holding your breath, you peeked round the living room door. And there, where last night had been nothing but a plain old Christmas tree, lay a spectacular carnival of gifts. Big parcels, gaudily wrapped. Small items tucked into the gaps, promising chocolate or a cassette tape or a toy car. The tree lights sparkling cheerful and bright – had they been on all night? Or had they mysteriously switched themselves on as you got up? The whole scene was a wonderland, and the endless day lay gloriously before you.

No, I’m certainly no Paul Daniels. But now I don’t have to be: I’m a parent. We get to put on the best magical displays of all, and we get to do it year after year, with top hats and magic wands nowhere in sight.

Merry Christmas, to magical mums and dads everywhere.

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