The dawn of 2016 was one of light and dark. On the one hand, we were on the cusp of purchasing our house, a momentous and joyous occasion for my wife and I. On the other hand, the end of 2015 had brought cancer for my dog Boomer. The prognosis was dire from the outset, but Boomer had been with me for 8 years, the first few of them very dark (for me) and he was more than a simple pet to me: he was my Best Buddy and I was unwilling to give up on him without a fight. The initial surgery was unusually successful and while it did not ultimately save his life, it did give him another year with me that was usually happy and enjoyable.
Nonetheless, by mid October it was evident that the fight was wearing too heavily on him and he was gradually declining. Having lost my mother and both grandparents to cancers of one sort or another, this eventuality was no surprise to me but it still had me in a near-constant state of gloom. Swirl that with my disappointment with the 2016 Democratic Primary loss of Bernie Sanders and the completely crass and vulgar 2016 general election run-up and I was in a very, very dark mood moving into November.
Everything of course reached its nadir on November 8th: the election that stunned a nation and shifted the balance of power firmly to the Republicans and began the presidency of Donald Trump. For myself, I mostly felt anger and frustration. I supported Hillary more out of necessity, so what I felt on November 10th was the impotent rage of someone who was watching the world change before them, of people embracing a philosophy that I personally found repugnant, of the national normalization of (or at least general apathy towards) a renewed and outspoken racism and nationalism. Mainly, my frustration was directed at friends and family -by whom I felt particularly betrayed- and by their rationales for voting for Trump. In short, I did not become despondent, I became defiant.
My wife however was devastated by Hillary’s loss, as were most Democrats. Like me, it was incomprehensible to my wife that a significant portion of America would have chosen Trump over someone far more skilled and temperate. For a week after the election, she was in a deep funk and I could see a holiday season that could easily become something very dark and very dour. I simply could not accept that as the outcome for our first holiday in our first home together. As the only woman I have truly loved (and the last woman I will ever love), I made the decision that even if the Red Hat division of the Death Eaters had taken Hogwarts and even if our own version of Sirius Black was most likely soon to leave this world, this Christmas would still have something magical in it. (As it was, we lost Boomer on December 20th. So, we both needed a little extra magic this last Christmas.)
Among other things, part of my solution was to get the Hogwarts Express train that she had asked for so long ago. And I made a promise: over the next year (or two), I would work to create a custom-made Christmas display for it, something that would bring a little extra magic and hope back into the world for her, something that she could take pride in and something that is personal and unique and only hers, crafted just for her. In that way, it’s a sign of my love for her as well. To some, this may seem trivial or material, but I think that the physical thing is less important that the emotional intent behind it. We all need something that makes us dream and feel wonderment and -at times- make us feel like a little child at Christmas again. If I can do that for my wife, then -whatever else might be true- I feel that I have given my wife one of the best gifts that I could give ever her.