Recently, as we were eating in an Italian restaurant, the music being played transported me back to holidays with my Italian/American family. Traditional, sentimental Italian songs were such a large part of our gatherings for the holidays. After a huge, slow, multi-course dinner, Uncle Tommy would get up and go to the piano, and just start playing. The whole family would sing, sometimes in Italian, sometimes in English, and when I hear those old songs, I’m suddenly six years old, happy and safe for the moment, and also the sad grownup, because all the people who were singing then are gone now. Although I didn’t know it then, Uncle Tommy was a gifted musician, able to play any song after hearing a few bars. None of his genes are mine, but I know my musical ability comes from singing to his accompaniment. At this time of year, the magic of the season for me is in the music.

Richard and I have a long-standing tradition of watching a tape of the musical “Scrooge,” starring Albert Finney. It’s a great combination of spiritual reminder, attitude adjustment, and musical extravaganza. It always gets us in the holiday mood. I’m one of those obnoxious types who sing aloud with the carols piped into the stores, and I play Christmas songs and carols in my car, singing along from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. I also love sharing holiday celebrations with friends and family.

What kind of holidays will you have? Whether you celebrate Ramadan, Kwaanza, Chanukah, Solstice or Christmas, I’m sure you have hopes and dreams of holidays to remember. We all long for the magic of the season to manifest in our celebrations.

What creates the magic? A combination of memories, traditions, and spontaneity is usually the key. If you’re wondering how to create magic for your own holidays, try reviewing holidays of the past, good and not so great, and see what the best components were. If you miss people who have passed on, and they were part of your holiday joy, make a place in your current celebration to remember them. If you feel overwhelmed by too much going on, cut some of the scheduled events and create some time for yourself. If what you cherish most is the connection with your family, make sure you get some time with them. If, like my friend Jessica, you love baking cookies to the sounds of Handel's “Messiah”, your friends will enjoy the cookies as much we all enjoy Jessica's creations.

Magic, contrary to popular film scenarios, doesn’t just happen. Sometimes your stars will just fall into line, Santa fills your stocking, or Elija fills the empty chair, and when those blessings show up, cherish them. But, most of the time, magic needs a little help. My holiday wish for you is that you help yourself to as much magic as you can conjure up. Wallow in it, indulge yourself in your fondest memories, give and receive extravagantly, and watch the magic happen!

I thought you might enjoy my Christmas/Solstice poem for this year’s Christmas card.

December 2005


The eternal dance.

– and balance is the key

Fueled with grace and joy,

We glide into the waiting arms
of the coming year.

© 2005 Tina B. Tessina

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.