My lawyer girlfriend asked, “Will you help with the holiday party for the abused kids?” “Sure, what do you want me to do?” I replied.
“Oh, just be some fairytale character” she said and hung up. I sat there staring at the phone. Which character?
My girlfriend was on the board of an organization, in San Francisco, that deals with child abuse and works on prevention through parental education. I grew up with loving parents and a secure home life, so I wanted to help.
I’ve been a performer all of my life and had no problem with that part of her request. I just wanted to make sure I chose the right character.
At first I started thinking of holiday characters like Frosty and Rudolph but they weren’t really ‘fairytale characters’ . Then I spent time considering fairy tales and nursery rhymes. I wasn’t the Pinocchio or Little Mermaid type, more like the grandmother, than Little Red Riding Hood.
Then the perfect idea came twinkling in, as if by magic. Of course …Cinderella had been abused…maybe the kids would relate to The Fairy Godmother.
Although I didn’t really know what she would do at the party, I drove to the College of Marin, to the drama department’s costume lab.
Everyone was delighted to help me turn into ‘The Fairy Godmother.’
That was fifteen years ago.
I remember ‘Fairy Godmother’s’ debut like it was yesterday…I arrived for the party in street clothes and went upstairs to change into my costume. My costume looked like Disney’s Fairy Godmother: not fancy but everything was the right color and she and I definitely have a resemblance. I put on my costume and went downstairs.
The center was packed to bursting with children and parents who really needed some holiday cheer. Amazingly the children immediately knew who I was.
I sat down on the floor and a little boy crawled on my lap, and I heard one of the center’s workers expressing surprise because normally he didn’t let anyone touch him. Then I felt a tug on my cape and turned to a little girl whose eyes were as big as Christmas.
She beamed at me and said “I’ve seen your movie.” I realized that, to the children, I was Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother…not just someone in a costume.
That first year, like all of them since, was pure magic. I thought I was there to give some cheer to kids, who had nothing. Little did I know I was there to receive the greatest gift. God gave me the pure gift of children’s love. You see children know Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and they love her unconditionally. She represented safety.
That first year it was hard to hold back the tears when I saw a little boy with a black eye. I realized some of these children were there because their parents were substance abusers, like you would expect, but others were children of children who themselves had been abused. I remember a young girl, who wasn’t old enough to be out of middle school, asking if she could sit on Santa’s lap too. She held her tiny baby on her own lap.
I’m better at holding back the tears now but my heart still cries. Yet, still the children have the magic to make me laugh and smile as they bless me with their childhood wonder.
The party is all encompassing, like the love of Christmas. During the party I give lots of hugs, sing Bibadibobadido many, many times, along with lots of Christmas Carols. I visit Santa, play dreidal, go to the Kwanza room and face paint with the fairies.
Abuse happens across all social stratums, cultures and ethnicities. It is a repetitive generational cycle that can be broken, and must be broken.
Recently, out of the blue, I received a phone call from a woman wanting to know if I had created my name, Charselle.
“No,” I told her in explanation, “I had a very creative mother.”
She then told me she had been to my website and wanted to know about “that Fairy Godmother stuff.” I told her my story.
Then she added, “I am so pleased to meet you. You are truly a realized person.”
Confused I asked “why.”
“Well, when the fairy tale is analyzed, The Fairy Godmother represents Cinderella’s higher self, because the answers to our problems are within.” she said.
“Do you realize the meaning of your name?” she went on.
“No, my name is an original, It’s not in books.” I stated.
“Well, Cinderella was a charwoman right?” she stated.
“Yes” I agreed.
“Char just like the first part of your name and the last part of your name ‘elle’ means girl,” said the voice on the phone, “You are Cinderella’s higher self.”
All my life I had searched for the meaniing of my name. Stunned the glow of gratitude flowing through me, I thanked her.
More magic: At the time she called I had just pulled Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother’s garment bag from the back of the closet, readying for this year’s Christmas magic…
copyright 2008 Charselle, www.charselle.com