M a g i c This is an American autobiographical story by Liz Rosenberg about a Christian and a Jewish family. And how unlike they are when it comes to holidays and the celebrations of the year. This story about Christmas and Hanukkah, which both are celebrated in the same month, but different ways. I believe the story takes place somewhere in America, since the author is from America, maybe in a small town or suburb. It is in December and we here the celebrations of the different religions.
The narrator is probably about 12-13 years old and is Jewish. She has a friend called Marie Piscatelli, who is Christian, and therefore celebrates Christmas. The narrator is very fond of Christmas and does not understand why her family won’t celebrate it. Every time she is at her friend’s house she gets all dazzled with the beauty of Christmas, and she likes it there. And Marie’s family like it when she comes to visit them, because she has good manners, and eats a lot, unlike Marie and her father, who only eats cottage cheese and canned pears.
Her parents don’t really like her hanging out with Marie, because of their different religions, and once when her mother went to pick her up they got in a heated discussion about religion. They went on about how they don’t believe in Jesus Christ and the narrator says that her mother doesn’t believe in Jesus, and neither does Mr. Piscatelli. She doesn’t understand why they can’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday when they celebrate everyone else’s birthday. Her mother says that she will understand when she gets older.
The narrator thinks that Christmas is for children, which is fully understandable when the only thing she sees is gifts and more gifts, food, and lots of sweets, which really is what Christmas is all about now a days. It’s no wonder that children don’t know the true meaning of Christmas. She also says, that Santa Claus must be Jesus’ rich cousin, since she has never heard of him. She thinks he is a real person. Her parents don’t want to explain Christianity to her, because then she just would be more dragged into the Christian environment.
And I actually think that she is a bit jealous of Marie. Marie gets many presents, and that Christmas spirit, while she gets Hanukkah, which she didn’t know was a sort of Christmas for Jews. She only remembers Hanukkah by the smell of melting candle wax. When she says: “On Christmas Eve some devil in me emerged; I would fall into the fine needled tree and knock things loose, my arms swinging like windmills” (ll 18-20) it could be that she did it out of jealousy or she is just clumsy.
Maybe when she asked for that red sled, it really meant something for her. To know that her family can buy expensive things, and she gets big presents too. The title: Magic, could have something to do with Marie’s father. “Marie’s father had ulcers. No magic for him. ” (l 27) She thinks that Christmas is full of magic, the food, and the Christmas spirit. Everything about Christmas is magic, and since he has ulcers, she can’t experience the full magic that is in the air in December.
The theme in this story is religion, how hard it is for people with different religions to live in the same country, and it is especially hard for all the children, since being a child, you don’t know that much, and you can’t understand why everyone gets presents but you. And it can be hard. Also, friends with different backgrounds, how their family won’t accept their friendship. But in the end I think that it is really up to oneself to say if they believe in this or that religion.
You can’t force belief, and there is no use in believing in something that you really don’t believe in. But still, I think that the narrator is confused over what she beliefs in. And the grey clouds from the vaporizer surround her when she is sick, her mind is grey and full of fog, so she just goes around blindly and doesn’t know where she will end up. And the red sled, the thing we can connect with Christmas is the thing she wakes up to. And maybe she realizes that she wants a bit of both worlds. Or just that red sled.