TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — The Magic Of Christmas

When you think of Christmas, what do you think about? For me, Christmas is magic. Not the kind we usually think of when we think of Christmas.

By way of explanation, a short story. The first part of it may seem a little sad, but don’t worry, it has a happy enough ending.

When I was 8 years old, my father died at the age of 39. Our family moved to town from our farm, where I attended an actual one-room school nearby. The town was Hillsboro, N.D., where my class increased in size from three or four students to something around 20.

I was a pretty shy kid then. Having just moved, I didn’t have many friends. I was very close to my dad. His death, I’m sure, caused me to be depressed.

What helped was magic. I loved magic and magicians, probably from watching television. That Christmas, I asked for and received, not one but two magic “kits,” each with the props and instructions for about a dozen magic tricks. I don’t really know if I was any good at it, but I loved doing magic.

One day at school, I did a couple of tricks for my classmates during “show and tell.” My teacher was impressed enough to have me perform for several other classes, first-graders, second-graders, third-graders.

At about the same time, a guy in my class asked me to a birthday party at his house. He also asked me if I’d like to do some magic at it.

Magic is more than a little geeky. But if you can cut a rope in half and restore it, if you can do card tricks, and if you’re 8, that’s pretty cool. For one brief, shining moment, I was cool.

From that party forward, I was able to come out of my shell a little bit and make friends. Life for me changed a little.

Without even knowing it, magic taught me some lessons. How to present myself in front of an audience. How to talk to an audience. Later, I believe, it even helped me with my work in television.

So, for me, “the magic of Christmas” is not some vague concept, but rather it is actual, slight-of-hand, close-up magic. To me, the very best kind.

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