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Jessica Wiant

Holiday magic returns

This time last year, my son was still a mere newborn.

The most he could appreciate the holidays was to gaze for a few minutes at the colorful lights of a Christmas tree in between naps, feedings and diaper changes.

So, last year, my husband and I pretty much stuck to the same routine we had in all our years of marriage.

We had no holiday celebration at our own home -- no Christmas ham or opening of gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. No Bible reading of the birth of Jesus or recital of "The Night Before Christmas" -- not at our house, anyway.

We traveled to our hometowns, where we juggled trying to split our time evenly between the homes of our parents and grandparents over the course of a few days.

We spent as much time as we could spare at one gift-opening before slipping out to see other family after their holiday dinner. We had Christmas ham and turkey what seemed like four times in one day.

As always, we drove back home at the end of it all, exhausted, and with a car as loaded as Santa's sleigh.

Hearkening back to childhood, Christmas seemed a little more special -- and slow-paced.
The season would begin with my dad dragging out the pieces of our artificial tree from the crawl space and letting it all "air out" for a day or so before we'd dim the lights in our living room and hang all the ornaments.

We'd always watch the Garfield Christmas special and "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas," both of which my mom had recorded onto a VHS tape with a label featuring a little green Christmas tree drawn by my dad.

We'd exchange gifts among our Sunday school classmates and put on a Christmas play where we'd star as barn animals in Bethlehem or church mice, and we'd leave the Sunday service nearest Christmas with a Ziploc bag containing a Hershey bar, candy cane, apple, orange and pack of Wrigley's Doublemint gum.
Christmas Eve would be spent visiting grandparents, and Christmas Day was a day spent exclusively at home, awaking early to unwrap presents and spending the day assembling Lego masterpieces and dressing Barbies while my mom made dinner, with pecan pie for dessert, in the kitchen.

Now in my second holiday season as a mother, I'm finding it a real struggle to both honor the already-established traditions of our families and create my own for my son.

This year, he is old enough to pick ornaments off the tree and say "ho, ho, ho," but he still isn't big enough to worry about missing out on Santa at our house. So, we'll do what we've always done again, for the most part.

My husband and I took a special day off to be Santa's little shopping assistants, and I think we'll have a "Christmas morning" on New Year's Eve, since we'll be at our own house then.
Next year, my son will have a whole new set of skills and level of understanding, and our Christmas traditions will take on more shape.

I'm sure in the Christmases to come there will be hiccups, frustration and disappointments, but the prospect of creating a little magic for the person who means the most in the world to me makes Christmas take on a whole new meaning again.

• Contact Jessica Wiant at jwiant@nvdaily.com.


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