>Did you like to eat turkey when you were little?
Did Santa ever put coal in your stocking, Mommy?
Did you get to stay up ‘til midnight on New Year’s Eve?

My daughters love to hear stories about how I spent the holidays when I was young. And I like to indulge them, since most of the time it’s terribly difficult to convince them that I ever was young in the first place! This season, the big question has been, “What was your best Christmas ever, Mommy?” Their query has given me the great pleasure of re-living real highlights of past Christmases—and also embellishing the remembrances with made-up details about seeing reindeer on the roof, cleaning up Santa’s cookie crumbs, and dancing with elves at the North Pole (Yes, I know I’ll be on the naughty list for stretching the truth that far!)

I realize how blessed I am to have so many happy holiday memories:

• I tell my kids all about my youngest years, celebrating a Danish Christmas by waiting ‘til Christmas Eve to cut down our tree, and decorating it with my cousins while my grandmother played carols on the piano. We each ate a bowl of rise a la mande (a Danish rice pudding-type dish) and hoped that our portion would be the one with the hidden almond, which netted its finder a giant chocolate Santa Claus each year.

• I share stories about being a college student spending a semester in Seville, Spain, and having the joy of taking my visiting parents and brother to see an authentic Flamenco dance performance on Christmas Eve. My kids giggle when I tell them about how that same year I partook in the Spanish New Year’s Eve tradition of eating one grape for every time the bell tolled at midnight. The dozen grapes is said to bring luck for each of the 12 months of the New Year. My girls like to see how many grapes they can fit in their pint-sized mouths—five is the standing record, I believe.

• I think about each of my daughters’ first Christmas–the excitement of our first Noel with a first-born child and the peace of knowing our family was complete when our second daughter was born two weeks before Christmas in 2005. I show the girls the special tree ornaments we received as gifts from loving grandparents upon each of their births and the prized collection of homemade ornaments that the girls themselves have hand-crafted over the years.

“Yes, but which is the best Christmas of all?” they insist. When challenged to think in terms of superlatives and select the very best of the best, I realize an amazing thing. I am living it. Right now.

Today is the day I get to watch my five and seven year olds jump out of bed with joyful anticipation about where their Elf on the Shelf will be hiding, after his long trip to the North Pole and his daily report to Santa Claus on their holiday wishes. This week is the week in which every day we will spend time together, following our Advent Calendar’s family-centered directions to “play a card game” or “eat breakfast for dinner” or “stay up late to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on TV.” This month, I have the unique pleasure of watching dance parties to Christmas carols (and to Lady Gaga!) and helping my little pastry chefs decorate dozens of cookies for spades of holiday parties. This year, I feel the joy of Christmas through the magic of two little girls who still believe in Santa and want to leave carrots on the driveway for his reindeer on Christmas Eve.

I know that this is a precious moment in time in my life—one that will not last forever or ever be quite the same again. For the love of fancy Gingerbread Houses and squeals of sheer delight on Christmas morning, this Christmas is the very best Christmas ever!

This post was written for an entry into the baby clothes holiday writing contest. One lucky blogger will win a $50 Amazon gift card! For a chance to win see the baby clothes blog for more information.

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