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Averyt: Imagining Christmas

One of the magic gifts of Christmas is to see the world through a child's eyes. To stand in the glow of a fir tree and see the wonder of green. To believe a red-suited old man can actually shimmy down the chimney. Who but a child has the faith and vision to know that reindeer really can fly and snowmen can come to life? A child looks through the third eye of imagination and sees sugar plums dance, hears reindeer prancing on the rooftop.

Imagination is a particular gift of childhood. It's not something we can wrap up in a pretty package or bottle for later use. It's a gift to be accepted without question ... a star to follow, a dream to dream. It's what the artist Paul Gauguin meant when he said, "I close my eyes in order to see."

My four-year-old granddaughter is a wizard of imagination. Magic enriches her life, it expands her world. Never bored, she can flit like a butterfly, leap like a frog, roar like a lioness or purr like a kitten. She doesn't need expensive props to play doctor. She rushes a couch ambulance through traffic to take her little sister to the hospital where she tips an imaginary glass of water to her sister's lips and orders porridge and bed rest for three-seventy days.

She can host an impromptu marshmallow roast in front of the gas fireplace or climb Jack's beanstalk in the living room. Imagining Christmas, she sees in her mind's eye a decorated Christmas tree touching the ceiling of her gingerbread house. She can smell the cookies her mother is baking even though her mother's at work and watch snowflakes fall – even when it’s 50 degrees outside and raining.

Like Gauguin my granddaughter and I play a game of imagination. We close our eyes to see what we can see and in the process discover a rich and wonderful world where all things are possible, including the peace on earth imagined by angels and wise men in the centuries old Christmas story.

It's the beauty and power of imagination that fuels dreams like the one of equality Martin Luther King dreamed so many years ago, or the shared, peace-filled world Beatle John Lennon imagined. Those dreams may not yet have come true, but as Bloody Mary sang about Bali Hi in South Pacific, you need a dream in order for it to come true. Or as my granddaughter says, "Close your eyes Grandma. Now tell me what you see."