"An AUTHENTIC Amish candle." I whispered reverently, ducking to check the tag glossed on the side. "In the scent of Santa-Winter."
We were in the middle of a small town in Pennsylvania that was having a Christmas celebration. The streets were lined with local Amish people laden down with quilts, jams, candles, and home-made trinkets. I was beside myself with glee, running from stall to stall, and Brett was reluctantly trudging behind me muttering stuff about how "we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet" under his breath. White noise, essentially. I was in a jaunty red coat even though it was 65 degrees. Nat King Cole was blaring from some hidden Amish speakers, and I was buying some Amish candles, damnit. I was in authentic Amish heaven.
"Want an authentic Amish doughnut?" I asked Brett, who shook his head over an Amish woman holding up a Steelers quilt she had undoubtedly stitched by candlelight. "And after we get one we can go say hi to Santa."
"Santa?" He asked, incredulously.
I pointed to the street where Santa and Mrs. Santa were mingling with the crowd, shaking hands and posing for pictures. "Oooh. He's a good one. Real beard! Take my picture?"
"This is ridiculous." Brett said, turning on his heel. "I'll be right back."
I shrugged and continued my shopping, filling my greedy hands with Amish candles and stuffed snowmen. I was trying to decide between a candle labeled "Country Cabin" and another labeled "Cranberry-Apple-Spice-Christmas" when Brett appeared at my elbow.
"They aren't real Amish people." He said flatly, when I turned to offer him a sniff. "You're being swindled. They just dress like that to get people to buy stuff. It's all fake. I just asked them."
You know that expression "my face fell?"
My face literally fell.
It was perkily pinched up in a constant smile only seconds before. My nose was tingling with about 76 different candle concoctions, I was humming under my breath and really excited to 1. Support the Amish community, and 2. Support the North Pole community by spending some time with Santa and the Mrs. later. I understood Brett's desire for true authenticity...and facts...but my face fell. And my heart fell.
And I put the candles and the authentic Amish snowmen back.
Did I really think a bunch of Amish people decided to come hang out on the street and peddle doughnuts and Steeler's quilts out of their kind, God fearing hearts? Not really. Did I notice a few Amish women taking smoke breaks? Yes. But, like a child wants to believe in the magic of Christmas, I wanted to believe too. I wanted to believe in the wholesome magic of the Amish. In the town that was so little we had to cross a covered bridge to get to it. In the doughnuts that were served up soft and warm in wax paper by women with smiling, round faces under their stiff white bonnets.
I wanted to believe in something magical.
On the way home, Brett looked over at me and squeezed my hand as I stared out the window. "How many candles did you buy?" He asked.
"I didn't buy any." I returned flatly. And I saw him bite his lip and stare straight ahead as the fading last rays of sun flickered and danced before the flame gave way to dusk.
Two days later I found myself in a candle aisle at Target. I had a hand basket filled with boring, adult things, but I couldn't ignore the pull of cinnamon and spruce and pumpkin wax wafting over the Home section.
I slowly placed my basket on the floor and lost myself in the colorful jars, before choosing three and walking to the cash register. On my walk there, I passed the book section, and my eye caught the newest installment of a sci-fi series I know Brett loves.
I fingered the cover of the book for awhile. In truth, the series is designed for teen-agers, but the covers are catchy, the writing is swift and smart, and the stories so magical they take my husband away to far-off lands where he never lets himself go. We had walked by this same book in a store a week ago, and he paused before it.
"Get it!" I urged.
He hesitated, and then seemed to find some kind of resolve. "No." He said firmly. "I don't have time. School is crazy right now. There is no time for that kind of frivolity."
"If you don't buy it, I will." I snapped, grabbing the book and placing it next to a mound of make-up.
"Please. Don't." His voice caught and he put the book back slowly. "There isn't time for stuff like that."
It broke my heart, but we walked away. And I remember driving home and looking over at him and hoping he still made time, once and awhile, for the magical things. Because a life so full of rules and regulations is a life sorely imbalanced.
Needless to say, I bought the book. And after I cleaned up from dinner and walked into our bedroom, I found Brett curled up on the bed, reading it voraciously, his school books abandoned on the floor.
"Good book?" I asked him with a raised eyebrow. And, he put it down and looked at me.
"Some of the Amish people were real Amish people, by the way. I should have told you that."
We looked at each other and smiled.
"Make sure you read at least half that book tonight." I told him.
Make time for the magic, my friends.
Whatever it may be.