I am a big fan of communication. But there's something to be said for seeing a special person only once a year. That means you talk about what's most important and take advantage of the time you have together.
For me, this person is my fairy godmother. And I’d just like to take this moment to sing her praises. She is magical. She takes ordinary, everyday things and shows you how wonderful and extraordinary they really are. She sees the magic in everything.
One thing that really sticks out about my fairy godmother is that she turned her life around. She didn’t have what anyone would call an ideal childhood. But instead of letting it bog her down, she turned around and made a life for herself and for her husband and for her kids. She was in the cinders and she raised herself up to be a princess.
[Minor Rant: The other thing is that she instinctively knows exactly what I need at all times. When no one else—and I mean no one—can help. I have a great relationship with my parents. And with my siblings. And with my best friend. And with my roommate. But I say that my fairy godmother is magical? Because when something is bothering me—sometimes before I even realize that it is bothering me—she will send me a note that exactly addresses what I’m going through or she will ask me a question that gently prods all the tender spots until I spill the beans and refocus. She makes me see the possibility in everything. She never dwells too long on one issue or problem. She addresses it sufficiently, gives her advice (although she never sees it as advice … she calls them stories and she never can understand why I want to hear them), and then listens. When I tell her my stories she sees things in them that I don’t see or that I don’t dare to see. And she laughs. She is one of the most genuinely joyful people I have ever met. FINIS]
The most recent piece of fairy godmotherly advice seems to me to symbolize her entire life philosophy. A few weeks ago I was organizing a rather large scale surprise party for my mother (which means that instead of freaking out over every small complication to my mother, I was on my own), and the call to my fairy godmother in search of a punch bowl to borrow turned into full out party decoration brainstorm interwoven with fairy godmother wisdom per usual.
Ally: Would you have a punch bowl for me to borrow?
Fairy Godmother: I have three. Two glass ones and that silver one that we used for your other party.
Ally: Oh, yes, can we please use that one?
Fairy Godmother: Mmhmm. Anything else I can help you with? It’s a Valentine’s Day themed party?
Ally: Yes, but I’m not doing many decorations … and it’s hard organizing a party from 200 miles away. But the centerpieces are going to be candles …
Fairy Godmother: Ooh, I have some candles you could use. Or you could get them 12 for $6 at Big Lots.
Ally: … mmmm, yes, and vases with carnations …
Fairy Godmother: Oh, I have some vases. Bud vases? Got ‘em. I’ll put those with the punch bowl. And I also have plastic champagne glasses that you could use. So what else are you doing?
Ally: … wellllll … not much.
Fairy Godmother: You know, simple is better. I’ve been to lots of parties. I’ve thrown lots of parties. You know what the best parties are? The ones that make the best memories? The simple ones. [her voice hushes as it always does when she gets an idea] Oh, you know what would be pretty?
[Ally waits with bated breath]
Fairy Godmother: Doilies. You can get heart shaped ones and you can put a red heart shaped one over a large white one on top of a red table cloth. You know, dimensions. And you could put ribbon on the vases. And with the candles … Mmm, that would be pretty. It would draw your eye …
Ally: Mmm, I like it.
Fairy Godmother: Mmm, beautiful.
Ally: But linen table cloths? Plastic?
Fairy Godmother: You know, I have a whole closet of linens. Stay right there.
Ally [inside]: She has a closet of linens. A closet full of table cloths. She has three punch bowls. She’s like Mary Poppins with a time lord science carpet bag. YOU NEED IT, SHE’S GOT IT IN HER POCKET/CARPET BAG/TARDIS/CLOSET.
Fairy Godmother: Mmm, well, I only have a few red round tablecloths and one has a stain. You know, red plastic table cloths would be nice.
Ally [anxious]: But, I mean, since we have real plates and glasses, would plastic table cloths be ok? Like, would it be classy enough? Plastic table cloths and glass plates??
Fairy Godmother: What matters the most is what you put in the middle.
Ally [party anxiety flies out the window as Ally ponders the beautifully phrased truth]: Yeah …
Fairy Godmother: And tell you what. I’ll polish that punch bowl for you.
What matters most is not in the details. Details are wonderful and beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with them. In fact they add a whole lot of beauty to this life. But what matters most is in the center. You should love details, but you should never let details take the focus off what’s most important. The detail that gives everything the extra layer of class? The heck with class. The details should not draw your attention to themselves. The details should draw your eyes up to the most important things, like a centerpiece truly draws your attention not to the center of the table but to the person for whom those tables are decorated in the first place. When you're writing a story, focus on the message--the theme, the meaning, the point you're trying to get across--and all the details will just fall into place.
Magic truly begins in the cinders. You just have to have the eyes to see it. It’s up to you to see that magic and not get bogged down by the nitty gritty cinders themselves.