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Tonight, after a particularly contentious legal day,  I sit writing.

I am surrounded by the candles and Christmas decorations I’ve accumulated through the years, and wondering what they mean.  This is my 3rd Christmas separated, and it is the hardest, and I’ve been pondering this.  I’m sitting at my dining room table with the lights off, only the light of candles and a small tree surrounding me. Across the room I see the manger that we received as a wedding present and that I added to each year.  I’m thinking about the Christmas’s when our boys were little and Christmas was the highlight of the year.  I’m remembering how hard I worked to dress them well, decorate the house, buy the right gifts, cook the right foods and play the right music, and I don’t know why.

Was it all to bring me to this day, today, when I look at that manger, and see that it contains no magic?

I used to think the manger, the story of Christ’s birth, contained the magic I found at Christmas, but today I realize that is not the truth.  The magic I found at Christmas was in me.  The joy of a decorated house, happy children and presents came from me.  They didn’t come from my religious spouse, my role as a wife or the work I put into the holiday.  The joy is inside me, and it always was.  While I owe my ex gratitude for allowing me to bring forth my true soul, this year I know that the joy is mine.  It makes no difference what is happening in court, which of my children isn’t speaking to me, what bills are looming.  All that matters is that I sit in my space, surrounded by candles I lit, music I compiled,and revel in a renewed faith in me.

Perhaps I needed him in years past to find the magic, but this year I can find it on my own.

If I can find it on my own I never have to worry about losing it.

That is a gift worth waiting for.

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