The Gift of Giving

Dear Friends:
This month our Museletter comes to us from our dear friend, who is so much more than the “administrative assistant” that her title with us would convey. So much of magic is created not by the bigger than life personalities out in front of an audience, but by the wizards behind the curtains, or up in the control booth in a theater. It’s the same  with the McBride Magic & Mystery School. Much of what you all experience as the magic of this community is actually set in motion by various members of our team working out of sight and without enough credit.

Katherine Rettke is responsible for all of those 10-day-out and 30-day-out letters you receive before you arrive for classes at the House of Mystery. She is our registrar for the Magic & Meaning Conference, and she takes on countless other small details that help us provide you with the best experience we can give. It’s a real pleasure to have her write this article for us now, as the most “giving” of our holiday seasons begins.

From Katherine Rettke:

“…I realized a gift could be anything – It didn’t have to have a bow on it, it didn’t have to be money or material things, it didn’t even have to be announced with words.”
George Parker, Gift Magic (Edited by Larry Hass)

I love this time of year, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. This is the time when I find myself thinking of all the gifts and blessings I have received, as well as all of the ways I can give to others. So many holidays on the calendar involve the giving of gifts. I would like to share with you some of my favorite holiday memories, and how these memories relate to my love of magic.

When I was 14 years old, I moved to a new neighborhood where I didn’t know anyone. For many reasons, those years were not always happy years. I am so thankful that I was welcomed with open arms into a neighbor family shortly after this move. In this family, Santa delivered and decorated a Christmas tree, and wrapped all of the presents after the younger kids had gone to bed on Christmas Eve.

The first year I spent the night at their house on Christmas Eve, none of the teens or adults got any sleep. Instead, we stayed busy and enjoyed each other’s company as quietly as we possibly could, with one ear turned in the direction of the rooms where the little kids were sleeping. The lost sleep was worth it.  As long as I live, I will never forget what it was like that first Christmas with my “second family” to see the expressions on the faces of little kids on Christmas morning when they woke up to a house completely and magically transformed. Just being part of creating such a magical experience gave me one of my all-time favorite holiday memories.

Over the years, the kids in this family grew up and the family grew. Little kids who once slept through the night on Christmas Eve joined the big kids and adults to experience an entirely different tradition. Over the years, traditions evolved. Santa decided somewhere along the way that it wasn’t much fun anymore to stay awake all night, so Santa allowed this family to decorate their own tree earlier in the evening. No matter how much the family traditions changed, that feeling of wonder and magic on Christmas morning never went away.

It has been fun over the years to watch these kids grow up and go from wide-eyed wonder on Christmas morning to creating that same feeling of wonder for their own children.  It wasn’t the actual gifts under the tree that I remember when I think of the gifts of the season, it was the gift of the magical experience.

I had a late start in magic, when I took an adult education class on performing magic at about age 30. I remember at the time thinking that learning magician secrets felt a bit like learning about Christmas magic. There is no way to ever go back to the same feeling of awe and wonder once magician techniques are learned. However, creating that feeling for someone else is even more fun.

I remember back when I first successfully performed a magical effect. There was a look of delight on the face of the person I performed for. I felt like I had just given that person a little gift. The feeling I got from that moment felt so good, that it created in me what has become a life-long love of magic. It has been a long time since I have actually performed magic, but helping behind the scenes gives plenty of opportunity for me to know that I am helping to create a magical experience for someone else.

Those in our community give so many gifts to others through their magic – the gift of time, of expertise, the gift of a magical experience. I invite you to take time to reflect during this holiday season. What are the holidays and traditions you have celebrated in your own life, and what are the feelings of wonder and awe these holidays have inspired in you?   I encourage you to ask yourself how these memories might have had an impact on your own love of magic.

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