Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium

"It's my favourite movie," he said.

"My sock monkey is in it," he said.

"I can't believe you haven't seen it," he said.

"Would you like to come over on Monday? It's the last day of our holidays. We could watch it," he said.

And so late yesterday afternoon I drove into northwest Calgary where I was greeted with candles, a perfectly set table that nudged me toward the kitchen from which mouthwatering aromas emanated, my ears tickled by the elusive jazz playing on the stereo and punctuated by the muted exclamations coming from the direction of the computer that was broadcasting the Ashes cricket match between England and Australia.

And I was greeted by Socks, the aforementioned monkey, who sat by me at dinner but refused to give away any of the plot of the movie, plead though I might.

So after a magnificent dinner (I will not say more except for I got the recipes - you Sunday evening diners will thank me for this!) and a quick inventory and demonstration of the delights of the Christmas haul, we all curled into cozy chairs and couches, took an initial bite of a mysterious, unusual, utterly delightful cheesecake (yes - I promise!) and started the movie.

What followed was ninety minutes of toys and magical delight and heartwarming kindness and music and whimsy and "just" turning into "of course I believe."

And through it all wove an unbreakable, four-threaded cord of love.

It started with Mr Magorium's love for his Emporium, which was his vehicle for spreading joy and hope and love to all the children who came in but especially to Mahoney, the piano protegee who had started working in the store in her teens but who in adulthood had somehow lost her music and her sparkle and her way; Mahoney, who in turn loved Eric, the super-intelligent but friendless child of a thousand hats who hung out there every day and even acted as a little employee when he sensed the Emporium needed some helping out; Eric who, when told by his mother to make a friend, reached out to Henry "the Mutant" accountant who worked all the time and never smiled and always prefaced his denials of the possibility of wonder by "just" - "just a store," he said; Henry who in the end drew the ends of that cord together in a magnificent bow by believing - in Mahoney, in Eric, in Mr Magorium and the Emporium.

And when it seemed everything was going along rollickingly and splendidly, Mr Magorium announced that he was going to be leaving. Many, many years earlier he had found a pair of shoes that he loved, and so he had bought enough pairs to last him a lifetime. And now, at the age of 243, he was on his last pair of shoes. He had one day left. And he was leaving the Emporium to Mahoney.

As he bade farewell to his wonderful Emporium - the place that was magical because of him - with the words, "Goodbye, love," and the sweetest smile, which rested crookedly on his face as his paper airplane fluttered uncertainly around the room extinguishing the light, the colour, the life, I found myself choking back unexpected sobs.

And in that dim room I suddenly found Socks the sock monkey pressed against my shoulder, with his arms being wrapped around my neck. I hugged that little monkey for dear life, crying because the movie was so perfect, crying because Sock's owner so perfectly demonstrated the principle that seemed to speak to me the clearest of all in the story: for the magic of love to exist and grow, it has to be believed in and passed on and accepted.

Dear Oliver - in the words of Mr Magorium, "Your life is an occasion."

And you are rising to it already.

Thank you. I love you.


  1. This was a VERY good movie! I find myself getting more emotional during movies since I became a parent and my dad died. I cry when little kids or parents die, because a part of myself puts us in the situation. I even cried at the end of Toy Story 3! I could see our kids getting to the point of leaving for college and thinking how much I would miss them. How empty their room would be:( Sooo thankful we have many years ahead of us before we need to think about them leaving. For all we know God's laughing at us up in Heaven, thinking, "I'm coming before you ever need to worry about that." I hope so!

  2. What a beautiful piece. Love does need to be believed in, so do dreams and the Mr. Magoriums of the world. Karyn, people like you make it easier for the rest of us to believe. Perhaps there is a beautiful movie in the works somewhere called Auntie Karyn's TeaHouse -- and if there isn't, there should be. I'm sure it would push Mr. Magorium to number two in the sock monkey's list of favourites. The sad, weary, world needs these stories to be told; just like it needs you and your TeaHouse.

  3. What's short, amazing, and says "ouch"?


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