Pre-kids, I was never one for the holiday hustle and bustle. The idea of braving traffic, snowy roads and frenetic crowds seemed more messy than merry and - year after year - we opted for a quiet holiday season at home. A crackling fire, mug of cocoa, and stack of Christmas movies pretty much capped off the extent of our celebratory traditions.
And then, along came Bee. And almost instantaneously, the holiday season was suddenly that much more special. That much more memorable. That much more magical.
Many memories of her first holiday season stand out in my mind - a first taste of mashed potatoes surrounded by family gathered around a wide oak Thanksgiving table, bundling her up to drive through neighborhoods glowing with Christmas lights, rocking her to sleep while humming our favorite holiday songs and daydreaming about the years to come.
They weren't particularly monumental occasions. There were no bells and whistles - no glistening tablescapes or perfectly coordinated events. It wasn't the food or the lights or the music, and certainly not the gifts or the trees or the snow.
No, that wasn't what made these moments special.
What made these moments special was the pure simplicity of the season - the knowledge that, as the snow falls, time stands still for a bit. Reflection is made possible. Friends and family gather. Memories are made. Love is exchanged. Appreciation is shared. Gratitude is acknowledged.
And perhaps, most magical of all - childhood is celebrated. Because if anyone can teach us about the beauty of the upcoming holiday season, it's a child. Kids bundled in snowy boots and rosy cheeks, babies' eyes twinkling with joy and anticipation and merriment.
And we, the parents, celebrating nothing more than the present; our very own gift of today: our family.