It’s time again for the “Great Tree” in “The Walnut Room” at the former Marshall Field’s on State Street.
It’s thirty years ago that a princess with a sparkling tiara in her wavy, golden hair sits in front of the tree. You wait in line forever to answer her question: “what’s your wish?” You whisper it and she tells you “close your eyes.” She sprinkles magic fairy dust above your head. Like a feather brushing your cheek, a light stroke of her wand calls you back. You look up at her, then waaaay up at the tree, knowing your wish will come true. You smile hard before filing to the right, ready to indulge in Christmas desserts.
It’s six years ago, on Christmas Eve in Phoenix, that I’m missing Chicago and reminiscing about childhood traditions as my husband and are I driving to our new home that’s under construction.
We stop for gas en route and I’m just a bit emotional. Between the new home, new life , the holidays…I get myself all choked up. My husand fills the tank, pops into the gas station and comes out with the usual Mountain Dew. But when he gets back into the car, he turns to me and says: “make a wish.”
“Haha,” I say.
But he insists and instructs me, “and close your eyes.” So, I do. I make a wish and close my eyes. A moment later, something brushes against my face. I open my eyes to huge white flakes falling down around me, his hand still sprinkling over my head. I adjust my expression into “what’s this?” and a grinch-heart answer comes my way: ”It’s shredded toilet paper,” he announces, kind of chuckling, “they’re all out of regular fairy dust but the guy inside swears it works just the same.” Then, he hands me a package of Hostess Snoballs.
He was giving me a hard time of course, but also, he did get me back to that tree. (I could see the love inside that grinch-heart!) I think I was protecting my over-sentimental heart by being, at first, reluctant to make a wish. But then, I did it. I like thinking that there is still that kid who believes in magic (even if just a little bit) in me, in all of us.
So I say: “Bring on the ‘magic toilet paper fairy dust.’ Hey, whatever it takes. I’d rather believe and be disappointed, because not believing is disappointment in itself.”
Happy Holidays! Shred the Charmin and make a wish!