BRAD ROBICHAUX — Not carols or lights but good times with family

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Is the magic gone?

In as much as the magic of the Christmas season is evident in the festive surroundings, it doesn’t look like it’s dissipated any. Lights are still hung everywhere, some in impressive arrangements. The same Christmas songs sung and styled by multiple different artists are piped into nearly every store and public space.

No, there’s no snow, as it’s an extremely rare phenomenon down here, but that’s never stopped us before from enjoying Christmas without it.

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It’s not age, either. There are plenty of folks older than me that still get a kick out of going all out for Christmas. My mother’s one of them.

But with all the trappings of festiveness — the songs, decorations, a snow motif on anything and everything — none of them seem to be able to break through my Grinchy shell these past few years, at least not like they used to.

I’ve seen all the decorations before, heard all the sounds before and smelled all the smells that never fail to remind me of that Christmas knick-knack shop I visited when I was younger (it has cinnamon in it, I’m sure of that). I’ve seen snow before too — just a couple of years ago in fact.

Confronted with all of those Yuletide stimuli, the most I seem to come back with is “Oh, it’s Christmas again.”

The superficial qualities of the season only go so far. They help, sure, but they’re not enough on their own to truly embody the spirit of Christmas.

Those were the thoughts going through my head when I was shopping for gifts for my niece and nephew. For them, the gifts are probably the biggest contributor to their enjoyment of the season. I, however, have such a tough time coming up with a wish list that I sometimes think I should just ask to receive nothing.

My family hasn’t yet disappointed me in its gift giving though, so I do want to live up to their standards, which is why I was looking in the LEGO aisle for ideas.

A few years ago my sister and brother-in-law gave me a LEGO set to build a model of the White House for Christmas. I always loved LEGOs as I’ve said here before, and I got a big kick out of such an unexpected gift.

When the niece and nephew were old enough to graduate from the big blocks, they received their own generic multi-piece set. I suspect, though, that us adults had more fun with them that year than the kids did, going through the booklet and building all the models, sometimes putting our own twist on them.

Since then LEGOs have become a staple of Christmas for the family. I’m cultivating a reputation of being a LEGO uncle, giving a set each year because everyone, even the kids now, have possibly the most fun of the evening with those little blocks. I’m determined that this year will be no different.

It occurred to me that these silly blocks mattered more to me than all the fickle, constantly-going-out light bulbs that line so many buildings in so many elaborate patterns, or the ever-present music or marathons of Christmas movies.

Of course it’s not even the blocks. They were there before I was born, before I learned to love them in my childhood and before I received that White House set.

Of course it’s how much fun my family has with them. It’s enough to get me out of the house, braving the crowds of last-minute shoppers to continue this little tradition when I could so easily do without so many of the others.

You know, maybe folks are on to something when they say there’s more to Christmas than the superficial, commercial trappings.

Brad Robichaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at