You probably can’t use that writing prompt in schools anymore, so I’ll go ahead and use it here. Unfortunately, I’m not in fourth grade anymore. And I say unfortunately because Christmas back then was in a word, magical. In large part, of course, because I didn’t have to do any of the work. I got to gaze at the twinkling Christmas tree, eat reindeer shaped, iced sugar cookies until my stomach hurt and watch Christmas movies. Life was good. But then I had to go and grow up. And just like that, I was thrown to the Christmas wolves. Fighting for parking spaces, addressing Christmas cards until I developed carpal tunnel and playing Russian Roulette with online shipping windows. This wasn’t magical. This wasn’t magical at all. And then I realized, this was adult Christmas. I prayed having kids would bring the old Christmas back. But that just meant a gate around the Christmas tree, a Christmas tree that I only had time to adorn with two strands of lights so far. It meant searching endlessly for coordinating holiday outfits for the perfect Christmas card photo, hiding presents, hiding scissors and tape. Obsessing over how I could get it all done to create the same childhood Christmas for the Littles that I once had. I thought I had lost magical childhood Christmas forever. And then Ironman convinced me to go on a nighttime group holiday ride. What? Ride a bike? At night? In 50 degree weather? With the Littles in the bike trailer? Yes. We showed up with battery-powered blinking lights on our bikes, Santa hats and a Bluetooth speaker in my bike basket to shower the streets with Christmas carols. This, I learned, was commonplace on this annual ride.
I coveted the snowflakes that wove in and out of someone’s bike wheels. I giggled at the sight of the tandem bike family, all dressed in the same candy-cane leggings. We took off in one large continuous stream of holiday cheer, down neighborhood streets to look at Christmas lights. But I saw so much more. As we passed by holiday parties, neighbors in their backyards raised their wine glasses high above the fence and shouted “Merry Christmas!” Stunned faces of dog owners melted into waves and holiday greetings as we rode by them on their evening walk. As people sat down to dinner and peered outside their window, they saw a multicolored-lit amateur Tour de France pass by. Some ran out to watch the spectacle. And as these families stood on their lawns, you could tell that these few minutes of simple joy made up for their frustrating day of fighting for parking spaces, addressing Christmas cards until they developed carpal tunnel and playing Russian Roulette with online shipping windows. I finally caught up to Ironman (the man just can’t ride a bike slowly), and saw the Littles’ faces as all of this transpired. They were in wonderment and they weren’t alone. As the crisp night air hit my face and Silent Night serenaded us from my little white basket, the magic of Christmas was back. And just as I remember, it didn’t take any work.