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Magic, Post and Pai Natal (Santa Claus)

"Magic doesn't just happen YOU make it happen." A page from my book Shoe Mice. Illustrated by Nervo.

“Magic doesn’t just happen YOU make it happen.” A page from my book Shoe Mice. Illustrated by Nervo.

 

(Hank, Pai and I are sat at the table for a late dinner. Molly, who ate much earlier, is sat at the table with a doll house and singing to herself while she decorates each room)

Molly: (singing to the tune of jingle bells) Pai Natal, Pai Natal, Natal, Natal, Natal (Santa Claus, Santa Claus, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.)

Me: This is the year.

Pai: Yup.

Hank: This is what year?

Me: This is the year Molly will understand and be excited for Christmas.

Pai: The last two years she was too small.

Hank: Oh. (pause)

Me: We have to decide what we are going to do this year about Pai Natal (Santa Claus). Pai (dad) is against Pai Natal (Santa Claus) coming to our house.

Pai: I do not want Pai Natal (Santa Claus) to enter our home. I like to make Christmas. I don’t like anyone else doing it for me.

Me: Which is what led to me writing the letter to Pai Natal (Santa Claus) asking him not to come here when you were born.

Hank: So you already wrote the letter for Molly?

Me: Nope. We needed to have a family meeting about this. Do we want the same for Molly? Are we three happy to make the magic for her?

Pai: You know how I feel.

Hank: Some kids don’t want to believe and magic is only real as long as you believe it is real. Pai Natal (Santa Claus) is magic and if you don’t believe he isn’t real.

Me: What do you believe?

Hank: I believe in magic. I also believe that you make magic.

Me: (nodding, happy that my lectures over the years have stuck)

Hank: I don’t think Pai Natal (Santa Claus) should come to our house. We should write him the letter saying “no, thank you.”

Molly: (singing, focus still on adding more and more teeny-tiny milk bottles to her tiny refrigerator) Please, No Thank You. Please, No Thank You. Please, Please, Please, Please, No Thank You.

Hank: But how do you even get a letter to Pai Natal? Through our fairy door?

Me: I am sure Paige Portensia Xanthro Sprigh is far too busy with teeth collection to handle a message to the North Pole. No, we send a letter through the post office.

Hank: The actual Post Office?

Pai: The Post Office takes letters to Pai Natal (Santa Claus) very seriously.

Hank: Seriously?

Me: Seriously. We will use the beautiful stationary that papa bought me in Vienna and I will write to Pai Natal (Santa Claus) this weekend asking him to officially exclude Molly from his deliveries.

Hank: But how does the Post Office know where to send the letter?

Me: Easy, we use his address.

Hank: Pai Natal (Santa Clause) has an address?

Me: Sure. Pai Natal, Pole Norte. (Santa Clause, North Pole).

Hank: And it gets to him?

Me: The mail is always delivered.

Hank: How?

Me: Well, I don’t know, maybe we should ask our friend, Anna, in Lapland.

Pai: Good idea. She would know.

Hank: In Finland?

Me: Yes. Anna lives in Lapland, the very edge of the human world. The last human outpost before the North Pole. Maybe she will know how the post is handled.

Pai: Maybe.

Hank: It is hard giving Pai Natal (Santa Claus) to other children who really need him. Teachers and neighbors don’t understand. I will help Molly with that part.

Me: OH the stress and drama we endured every year! You were beside yourself with worry that Pai Natal (Santa Claus) would get confused and bring you a present anyway. It was a nightmare for your poor nerves and mine!

Hank: I know now that wouldn’t have happened.

Me: (raised eyebrow)

Pai: You do?

Hank: Yes, you two made the magic. O Espírito de Natal (The spirit of Christmas) is made by parents. 

Pai: In our house.

Hank: In every house.

Me: (nodding, because no one ever called him dumb, not one day, and suddenly, although he was born yesterday, Hank is nine and he gets it)

Pai: (making eye contact with Hank, acknowledging that we know he knows what he knows we know)

Hank: I don’t mind. I like it this way.

Me: And this year the magic will be made by three and it will be extra special.

Hank: I’m excited to make magic for my sister.

Pai: (winking at me) You learned from the best!

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A Thunderous Thursday

conversations with hank

Molly showing me her “tomatoes”

 

Hank: Oh mama! Those roses are beautiful!

Me: Oh, but Hank, smell them!

Hank: (drinking in their sweetness) Wow. Now they are even more beautiful!

Me: I adore my dumpster roses. Your papa came home from the Horta Pedagógica (community gardens) one night with a bunch of sticks wrapped in newspaper and said our neighbor stopped him and told him she had far too many roses and if he was interested she had thrown away a garden full and all he had to do was push those sticks into some soil and by the following year he’d have roses.

Hank: But you didn’t believe him. I remember.

Me: I had never grown roses before. I didn’t imagine it could be easy.

Hank: And so papa put the sticks in the ground.

Me: And I learned that even roses from the dumpster can bloom. I am sad I had to go and pick these but there is rain coming and these blooms would get spoiled.

Molly: (toddling into the kitchen) Quero (I want to) see.

Hank: (taking the largest rose to her to smell)

Molly: (breathing it in) Yummy. Mama, quero cerejas (I want cherries), pleeeeeeease.

Me: (plopping the roses into a vase) Sure. There is no better breakfast than a cherry breakfast. (lifting her up on the counter to sit next to a gigantic bowl of cherries that was full the night before)

Molly: Me do it.

Me: You have to be careful. Cherries have a stone inside. Don’t eat the stone. (vigilant)

Molly: Ta bem (okay). Look, look mama! (holding up a cherry) A tomato. (giggling and wiggling at her obvious joke) Yummmmmmy tomato!

Me: (tossing my head way back and praising her with a chuckle) A tomato, you are so funny.

Molly: (nodding, pleased as punch) I funny. (biting the cherry in half and handing it to me to take out the stone while selecting another one) Looook mama! Ah, ah, uh, uh strawbury! (tossing her head back, mimicking me, laughing)

Me: A strawberry? HA! (bending at the waist, rolling with laughter) Oh, that is funny. You’re so funny, MaGoo.

Molly: (nodding, beaming) I funny.

(roll of thunder)

Molly: What’s that? What’s that, mama?

Me: What do you think that is?

Molly: Ah, ah, ah, uh, ummmmmmm…. A dragon!

Hank: Guimarães is full of sleeping dragons, Amália.

Molly: (her finger to her lips) Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh, dragon sleeping.

(another roll of thunder)

Molly: Ah, ah, uh, umm… Dragon hungry! Mama, Dragon hungry. (nodding, serious)

Me: That was the dragon’s empty belly rumbling?

Molly: SIM (Yes)! Dragon? Dra-gon!? Queres Cerejas (Want some cherries)?

Hank: Amália, dragons eat really specific foods. Are cherries on the list, mama? Remember the list of dragon foods?

Me: I know that list by heart! I have been feeding dragons since I was your age and I am a rather old woman.

Hank: (nodding then abruptly stops nodding when he realizes his nodding is saying he agrees I am old) You’re not old. You’re mama aged.

Me: (giggling) What day is it?

Hank: Um…

Me: (pre-coffee haze) Is it Thursday?

Hank: Yes, yesterday was (my) chemo day* so it was Wednesday.

Me: And there is thunder?

Molly: Dragons!

Me: Then the fates have aligned! Dragons only eat cherries in the spring on thunderous Thursdays.

Hank: (gasp) We need to tell Alice. She has a cherry tree!

Me: Don’t fret. They harvested their cherries yesterday. All the best farmers know about the dangers of a thunderous Thursday.

Hank: (smiling because he is on the cusp between still believing in magic and wanting to be the maker of magic) Amália?

Molly: (having forgotten all about us, cherry stained fingers and stuffed cheeks)

Hank: Dragons are our friends. They will come here, eat these cherries and grant you wishes and bring you luck.

Molly: No mano (brother)! NO! My cerejas (cherries)!

Me: Oh MaGoo. We have cherries to spare and I promise if today the dragons come and eat all of your cherries I will buy you more.

Hank: It is important you share!

Molly: Dragons! Ah, Ah, ah… No cherries. Tomatoes! Holding up a cherry. Tomato no cherries.

Hank: (whispering to me) Will that work?

Me: (whispering back) You can’t blame a girl for trying!

*I take a low dose oral chemotherapy for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis every Wednesday.  Hank is a worrier and every Wednesday evening has an alarm on his and my phone to remind us that I need to take my medicine.  Wednesdays have been dubbed chemo day.

 

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Powerful Joy

conversations with hank

(over lunch)

Hank: Mama, are curse words the same as swear words?

Me: Yup: curse words, swear words, bad words, adult words are all the same thing.

Hank: That’s what I thought.

Me: Do you know what a curse is?

Hank: Kinda. It’s something witches do.

Me: Some people believe that if you put enough powerful energy behind words they can make magic. Some people use this idea for good, like when people pray and others for harm, which is called a curse. Adults use curse words because there are words in every language who’s meanings give them more power. I love using powerful words. I started swearing in sixth grade even though my mother did her very best to try to stop me. I loved it and still do. I love feeling powerful.

Hank: Nothing can stop, Powerful Joy!

Me: (dropping my soup spoon with a tiny splash) HA!  YAAASSSSSSS! That is so me! That statement sums up my life completely. You could write that on my tombstone for posterity and I would be glad.

Hank: That is what I will do. I will pay for that. Then in 1000 years someone will find it and they will know you.

Me: (beaming) You are my best kid.

Hank: And you are my best mama. (slurping soup) I wouldn’t ever pick another.