Holiday trickery

It’s downtown Greenville on a cold December afternoon. A magician has worked up a sweat, torn off his coat, and is working the crowd to a wash of smiles and belly-laughs. It looks like a carnival shell game, except he’s not fleecing anybody of anything except their disbelief.

When the trick is complete, the crowd applauds and the magician throws his coat back on against the cold air. As he re-organizes, someone tells him they know how he did his trick.

“That’s why you shouldn’t stand behind me,” he says.

Later, we leave a toy store and find ourselves in a sudden snow storm. While it’s cold outside, it’s not cold enough to snow. It takes little investigative work to determine that a local gallery owner has decided to add to the holiday cheer with a soap-sud snow blower. Perched in a second-story window, the snow-machine is making one quarter of a city block look like New England on Christmas.

Because I’m a jaded adult, I’m finding more to watch in the red-eyed homeless guy and throngs of holiday shoppers. The boy, however, is wide-eyed and screaming. To his three-year-old mind, it’s a sign that everything good about the holiday can’t get better.

“It’s Christmas Eve!” he screams to everyone and no one in particular.

He can’t hear me when I tell him Christmas Eve is still a couple of days away. Even if he could, it wouldn’t matter anyway. For him, a few cents worth of soap and a snow-making machine are all he needs to be happy for an afternoon.

I can’t say anything else. I simply look at him through a lens and wonder if I’ll ever be so innocent again. I’m reminded later that because I’m jaded and paranoid doesn’t mean I should deliver the mental tension of the father on the son. I try to remind myself of that and hope for the peace to do so.

Because, when I see this kind of joy, I should want to do nothing but make sure it lasts forever.

More from the holiday camera at my Flickr account.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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2 Responses

  1. Enjoy the season. I have a similar memory of walking down 5th Ave in NYC with my dad when I was just a tyke. Lost innocence does not diminish the joy – it just adds to the complexity.

    The Steve Earle was great in rehersal, but I didn’t have time to get it to the show. A Takamine was a decent substitute for a pretty good Open Mike Night out here in Iraq.

    Is it possible to say thank you too much?


  2. Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Oh Charlie Brown, do we need to organize a Christmas play to give you envolvement this Christmas season, or would it better if your friends came over to decorate your Christmas tree! Look at the joy in the kids eyes and play a little follow the leader. Lots of Love to the Fam from Columbia. Aaron

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