Magic Christmas Making Old Folks Cry

Christmas Lights in Holme Cumbria
Written by Kirstie Pelling

The Magic of Christmas is Making Old Folks Cry

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Have you experienced the magic of Christmas yet? Is the fairy on the tree waving her wand for you? What touches you emotionally in the festive season? For me the magic always comes sideways, from a place I least expect. And it’s not always glitter coated…

Christmas Decorations

Is this the Magic of Christmas? Have you found it?

Penguins are ruined this Christmas

I feel the need to say at this point that John Lewis has ruined penguins for me. I always quite liked the little critters but now they’ve been tarnished in sentimentality and commercialism. In my opinion they have been knowingly undersold. Similarly fairies. I’d love to follow them under any other circumstance but every time I see them waving their expensive wands at even more lavish banquets in unaffordable houses I start shouting at the TV. “Magic and Sparkle? More like ‘Money grabbing and superficial!’”

The older I get, the less obvious the magic of Christmas is to me.  I hate shopping. I find Christmas parties a nonsense, and pointless plastic objects actually upset me. I suspect Christmas crackers are the unseen evil of plastic pollution and who really needs a fake moustache or fortune telling fish?

And yet…

Christmas Piano at Halecat House

Is the Magic of Christmas in sherry and mince pies around the piano?

Making old people weep

While I don’t go looking for the magic, and am sceptical about its existence, somewhere along the line it always finds me. Quite often in the most obscure location. This year it happened when the kids made a bunch of old people cry.

Sounds wierd? Let me explain. For the past couple of years our three children have been invited into a local nursing home to play carols for the residents, representing the brass band they play in. Last year they played a few solo carols and this year they performed as a trio. The music is rough and ragged, but strangely touching. The fingers may not always his the right valves but the tune is always played from the heart. And each time the chemistry of the young and the old coming to together in this Christmas tradition of carolling sparks something bigger than three kids with a trumpet and two tenor horns, and a circle of people who aren’t quite sure why they are here. Or even who they are or where they are.

Children playing carols for old folks

It’s both the music and the spirit of music making that touches me. but it can take a while to percolate through to others..

What are these pesky kids doing here?

Admittedly it does take a while for the magic to percolate. The old people aren’t always receptive to start with. Last year they wanted to know why the children were in the way of the TV? This year they were primed for the concert, all sitting happily in the warm living room area but then one needed an emergency visit to the toilet, and another made a dash for the front door and freedom.

And even when the band started, the conversation went like this…

“What’s this on my shoulder?”

“It’s your blouse Dorothy. You need to keep your blouse on Dorothy.”

“Are these my relatives?”

“No Jack, they’re local children who’ve come to play to you.”

“What do I have to play?”

“You’re not playing anything. The children are doing the playing.”

“I’d better go, they’re waiting for me at Fell End.”

“No you’re stopping here. To listen to the music.”

“But I need some cream on my arm.”

There’s an atheist in the room!

About three carols in, an old man who has been sitting quietly up till now raises an objection. Loudly.

“I’m an atheist!”

There is a pause in the music.

“Let’s do ‘We wish you a merry Christmas then!’” says Cameron brightly, quickly rearranging the sheets.

The children take it all in their stride. They introduce each carol, answer questions politely and confirm that yes they are all from the same family.  And at the end they go around the room shaking hands with the residents, who have all abandoned their various concerns and are now thoroughly engaged in the moment.

“You made me cry.”

“And me. Happy tears.”

“Schooldays were the best days.”

“I was in a choir once!”

“I’m sorry I got all emotional. It just got to me.”

With a small bunch of inexpertly played carols, three children hold a room in their spell, and make four people cry. Actually, five. Because in the midst of it all, I find myself welling up. Suddenly, the magic of Christmas is in the room with us. In every toot and in every tear. Somehow it makes its way in through a locked front door. Does it come down the chimney?

Christmas at K Village

The decorations of Christmas are here in Kendal but where is the magic? And the people?

What is Christmas?

So what is Christmas magic then? It’s not shopping is it? And it’s not tinsel and baubles and turkey.

Is it the moment in the season when someone makes you feel happy or sad? Is it as simple as that? Maybe I am being too harsh on John Lewis? That advert has, after all, brought a tear to thousands of eyes.

In this KLM Christmas message it is about a moment of happiness brought about through a connection with Santa.

Have a very magical Christmas

Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, we hope you have a moment of magic this Christmas. And we hope you will embrace it. Stop, and enjoy the tear it brings to your eye. Because when it’s not there you just might miss it.

Happy Christmas from us and the kids. See you in the New Year.

Christmas Lights in Holme Cumbria

Here’s wishing you all the best for the holidays. See you the other side.

Disclosure Note: This post is brought to you in a collaboration with KLM who were keen for us to share their video Christmas message with you. As ever, the editorial, views, opinions, other Christmas sentiments and paraphernalia are entirely of our own making.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


  • And a Happy Christmas to you. We are still waiting for the magic, in a skiing chalet with green meadows around, we had a hike today like you couldn’t have a better one in August. But we brought our instruments, too, and the thought of playing the clarinet on a snow-free mountain top has crossed my mind. We may still find our moment, as, with those special persons, children, chances are usually not bad.

  • Well I think that you definitely found the magic of Christmas. I usually find it when the kids put mince pies, sherry and carrots on the mantlepiece on Christmas eve. Or when we play charades and bingo with the whole extended family after Christmas lunch. But never when shopping or watching TV, you’re right!

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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