Dear Journal: The magic is as real as you make it

Editor’s note: Karen Harris Tully is a writer who lives in Raymond and has agreed to keep a journal to share with Daily World readers during the odd and uncertain time we’re all navigating.

Dear Journal:

This week, homeschooling has been something of a challenge. For example, my daughter, 5, went to sharpen a pencil, a simple, mundane task, and blood-curdling screaming ensued. She came running full tilt away from her older brother, and when I asked what was going on, he said, “I didn’t do anything. She stuck her pencil up my nose!”

She swore it was an accident, but I had to ask, “How do you accidentally stick a pencil up your brother’s nose? How does that happen?”

My little girl was not born to be silent. She’s a force of nature, be it a gale of sweetness, or a hurricane. She likes what she likes and wants what she wants, and watch out, she’ll let you know, with the highest pitched, nerve-grating scream you’ve ever heard. As an adult, her forcefulness, tempered with reason, is going to serve her well, I hope. It’s getting her there that is, already, giving me gray hair (she’s only five!)

Right now, teaching at home is a challenge, as I’m sure every parent can attest. It’s a constant work in progress, for both kids. What they can and can’t have, what’s healthy and what isn’t, to do their school work even when they don’t want to. The kids’ teachers have always said they’re great at school, cooperative and creative. I guess home is where they feel free to fully express themselves (though sometimes I wish they wouldn’t).

But don’t get me wrong. December, even this year, holds its own joyful magic. The bright lights are coming out, our towns and neighborhoods are looking festive. We pulled our own decorations out of the basement yesterday and put up the first tree, the kids’ tree, as an incentive to get their work done. They found an old package of tinsel, and that tree is one concentrated tangle of shine.

The kids have written their letters to the North Pole, which is a miracle considering we accidentally spoiled the Toothfairy. Their immediate question after that unfortunate reveal: “But, what about Santa?”

My son, 7 has been asking that yearly since he was 3 or 4, and I give The Polar Express response, “Santa is real, if you believe.” I don’t want to lie, but I also want to give my kids the wonder and magic of Christmas for as long as possible. We stop at some point believing in magic, and harden ourselves to reality. But as an adult, maybe I’ve come back around. In a sense, the magic IS real, when we make it real for others. That’s what the spirit of Christmas is about.

Song of the day: Believe, Josh Groban, The Polar Express

Karen Harris Tully is a novelist living in Raymond with her husband and two small children. She writes sci-fi/fantasy for teens and adults and can be found at


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