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We debated for a moment whether to try and hang a bell on our daughter’s door to get at least a bit of a heads up that she was up for Christmas morning. It would not matter much since the baby gate is still there, and she is more than likely to detour directly to our room. And, like every morning, she will jog around the foot of the bed and place her breakfast order in my ear. Milk and (cereal) bar. She might not remember it is Christmas until we get to the living room.

What is hard to see in the moment is how family holiday traditions are one part intentional and another part happenstance. I put up Christmas lights each year that we have owned the house, but they are the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of Christmas lights. You see what I was going for, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I will need to up my game next year after watching our child’s face light up when we went to Cheekwood and later to a drive-thru light show. Those are hard acts to follow, but I should try.

Samantha enjoys the ritual of an advent calendar, so our house typically winds up with two or three a season. It is fun to have the toddler ask to take down a felt loop from one of them and then go to the other ones for either a small figurine or a short story. The dog gets in on the action, though this year’s selection hasn’t been as popular with him – some of the treats weren’t to his liking. We are still writing the opening chapters of our family holiday traditions, but I know we are off to a great start.

I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I think about the last handful of years and how the stress of parenthood and a pandemic really weighed on us around the holidays. While not all of that is off our shoulders, the load feels lighter. I do not know what the next year will bring, but for tonight, all is calm. My heart is full of joy and love for our family and friends.

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!