Open your heart to everyday magic

rabbit in a top hat

Much like the child who plays with the box rather than the gift that was hidden inside, I remember a childhood that sparkled with the joy of simple magic.

It didn’t take much to spark the merriment and curiosity of a group of us who hadn’t been much anywhere outside of our tiny corner of the world. 

Our innocent eyes had only taken in the farm, school and church, along with simple children’s television programming.

Mexican jumping beans were a fascination for a time among my friends and me. Card tricks and sleight of hand coin appearances seemed miraculous and left us gasping for more. “How did he DO that?” my little friends and I would ask over and over.

The first time a magician and puppeteer came to perform an assembly at our elementary school, we all thought we had died and gone to heaven. 

It was about that time I saw Shari Lewis and Lambchop on our black and white television screen and I knew I had found my life’s work.

Then, wonder of all wonders, Red Skelton hosted a ventriloquist on his TV show. The talking sidekick on his knee was the most amazing performance of all time.

I asked for a ventriloquist doll for every birthday and Christmas from that day forward. 

Because my mother had a rule which stressed that if a child asks over and over again for something, then you can bet your boots that kid is surely not going to get it, I knew I was pressing my luck. It seemed worth the risk. Hinting on a wish this big just simply was not going to work.

One Christmas, my brother opened a large box, wrapped beautifully. Since large gift packages were rare, it had everyone’s attention. He opened it with gusto. 

Inside was a ventriloquist dummy named Danny, tiny round glasses and all. I gasped. It wasn’t the trick I was hoping for.

The good news is, my brother didn’t want it. The bad news is, he wouldn’t let me play with it. How was I ever going to hone my craft?

I could barely sleep at night, knowing my life’s work was never going to culminate, though my tools were right there under the same roof but forbidden to me. I felt tortured. 

I was sure the doll felt severely neglected, slumped in a corner with no glib remarks passing through his silly mouth.

The marquee lights were never going to shine for me, but don’t think I didn’t try my darnedest. I held that doll on my knee when no one was looking. I told him what to say but he never did say it. There would be no roaring applause, no gasps from an adoring audience.

Magic is making a comeback, if it ever left at all. My grandson went to a birthday party in a park recently where a magician performed for the group of 5-year-olds, holding their attention mightily throughout his show.

Hearing the excitement as he recalled the big day with me, I was overjoyed to see the sparkle in my grandson’s eyes.

 Magic is all around us if only we open our heart to it. And it also helps to not look too close while demanding to know, “hey, how did they DO that?”


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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