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Marlo Thomas

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Christmas and My Magic Mom: A Story by Whoopi Goldberg

Posted: 12/22/2012 9:28 am

I love a good Christmas story and this one from my dear friend Whoopi Goldberg gets me every time. It's a beautiful and simple story that I just had to share this holiday season. Happy Holidays to you all, and I wish you much magic! --MT

by Whoopi Goldberg

When I was a little girl, my mother worked magic. I'm sure of this now, but at the time, I could never figure it out.

I was about five or six years old, living in a small apartment in the Chelsea area of New York City. It was just my mother, my older brother, and me.

We didn't have a lot of money, but we had each other. I remember every year about a week before Christmas, the magic would begin: a tree would suddenly appear in our living room. Just a naked tree -- no decorations, no explanations.

No one would ever mention where the tree came from, or how it got into our living room. And yet my brother and I knew it couldn't have come from my mom. After all, we were always together and we never saw her go out and buy a tree.

"Where did it come from?" I would say to my big brother Clyde as we stood side by side in our living room staring at it. "It's almost like it just....fell from the sky."

But the magic didn't stop there. The morning after the tree arrived, the first thing we'd do is run into the living room, and there would be lights on the branches. And tinsel. And sprayed snow and Christmas balls and lights that bubbled.

By now we were watching our mother like a hawk-- but we never saw her touch that tree.

It had to be magic.

Every day leading up to Christmas was just like that. We'd wake up and the tree would be decorated some more. Meanwhile, the living room windows were getting in on the act. They gradually became decorated with pink stenciled snowflakes that looked like they'd been made with that cleaning spray stuff from the kitchen.

Around this time my brother and I would start thinking about our presents. We knew they were coming, of course, so before the big day, we would look everywhere for them. Our apartment wasn't what you'd call big, so it didn't take us long to search everywhere -- in the closets, in the bathroom, under our beds.

Nothing.

Finally, Christmas day would arrive, and my brother and I would get up while it was still dark outside. Some years, it would be snowing outside. We'd run into the living room and stop dead in our tracks. The sight was amazing. There was a bicycle. A Flexible Flyer sled. A Lionel Train set. A Kate Greenaway dress for me, a Robert Hall suit for my brother. How did she do it?

Where had all this stuff been hiding? At the neighbors'? Under the floorboards? Or maybe Mom had secretly been corresponding with the North Pole all along. You know, talking to Claus.

After we opened our Christmas presents, we'd give our mother hers. We usually made things for her. She always seemed to love our homemade presents as much as we loved the ones we'd gotten.

Anyway, we never really had any time to think about it -- we had to get outside! Usually there were about 45 tons of snow on the streets. So we'd get all dressed up in our snow clothes and head outdoors. My brother would take me onto Tenth Avenue, which by this time would be closed on account of the snow. He'd put me on the front of the Flexible Flyer, then he'd sort of run, and pull me along. We'd have the best time.

At first you could see nothing but clean, white snow all around you. Then, soon the streets would start to fill up -- not with cabs and buses like usual, but with kids and their parents. So much for the clean, white snow!

Still, as much fun as we had sledding -- and as wonderful as those presents were -- the best present for me is the memory of it all. I can still see every moment in my head. That was Mom's real magic.

By the way, when my brother and I got older, we finally asked our mother where the tree and all those presents came from. In fact, we still ask her. You know what she says?

"I don't know what you're talking about."

After all these years, Mom still won't give it up.

 

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