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The magic of Christmas lives, no matter where you are

Martha Carr

There is something about the Christmas season that makes everyone believe in the possibilities just a little bit more. It doesn’t matter what part of the country, the magic happens everywhere.

In New York City my old friends will be making plans to go see the Saks or Bergdorf Goodman windows and the tree at Rockefeller Center. At Christmas time the city gets dressed up with a giant star over 5th Avenue at 57th near the Apple store. There are tree vendors with temporary stalls along many of the sidewalks.

I remember walking through the narrow paths between fir trees surrounded by the scent of pine. The food carts sell roasted chestnuts along with gyros and pretzels, people are gathering in the Plaza Hotel’s lobby for hot chocolate and along every street there are more tourists than ever stopped in the middle of sidewalks gazing upwards everywhere.

Back in Richmond, another old hometown for me, everyone has already decked out their houses till they can be seen from space. Richmond’s love of Christmas decorations makes the HGTV cable special every year and there’s a Tacky Christmas Tour you can take with friends on a chartered bus.

There’s also a Christmas parade with marching bands, oversized balloons, floats with local celebrities and big men in tiny cars wearing fez hats. Families can always find a place to stand and watch even if they get there just as it starts.

Here in Chicago there are plenty of Midwestern traditions including the windows at the old Marshall Field’s store downtown, which newer transplants call Macy’s, with the famous oversized tree in the Oak Room.

There’s also the 26th annual showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” at the old Music Box Theater. People go every year and wear Santa hats of every description and bring sleigh bells to jingle whenever Clarence makes an appearance on screen. They also hiss when mean ol’ Mr. Potter appears and cheer for George Bailey or sing along with Rosemary Clooney during White Christmas.

Afterwards we all walked down the snowy street toward the El looking at the large ice sculptures that went on for blocks. There was a puppy coming out of a Christmas box and a reindeer on a roof.

In every city or town where I’ve lived I’ve participated in all of it and marvel at the enthusiasm and glee, even in the adults. We all believe, just for a little while, that everything’s alright and we are grateful to be of service to each other in remembrance of whose birthday started the big celebration in the first place. Merry Christmas everyone and may the joy and peace of the season stay with you for the entire new year.

• Martha’s latest book is the memoir, “A Place to Call Home.” E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.