Allow me to start the new year by saying that I hope that everyone had a happy and healthy Christmas and holiday season.
Speaking only for myself, I believe that this Christmas and New Year's was as good as any I can remember.
There were times that it felt like I was a little kid again, so excited about Christmas morning that I found it hard to sleep.
At one point I awoke with a great deal of excitement because Christmas morning had finally arrived, but when I looked at my clock I realized that it was only a few minutes after two and waking up my wife would have been a very bad choice.
I am not one to normally get wrapped up in all the hype of holiday seasons. I don't really like hearing Christmas music from the week before Halloween up until the actual day. I don't like hanging lights and holly. It's just not something I would do, but this year was different.
Now, I'm not a total Scrooge. When I was a kid, the days leading up to Christmas were almost unbearable. I was always the first one awake in my house and the little moments of Christmas were always something I looked very forward to.
I loved to decorate the tree and to hear "The Polar Express" each year, but as I got older and more jaded, I lost my appreciation and excitement for it all.
I guess I could say that like the little boy in "The Polar Express," I found myself one Christmas when I could no longer hear the bell.
Then something happened this year that relit that fire in me.
Having my son has helped me reconnect with that innocence of being young that I had lost. I know that he is only 10 months old and the pile of toys that Santa brought this year was wasted on the little boy who wanted to play with the boxes and eat the paper.
It was so much fun getting ready for Christmas this year, however. He sat outside with me while I strung out the outside lights and laughed every time I plugged them in to see if they worked. He stared at the Christmas tree as we decorated, making sure the plastic ones were on the bottom so he could pull them off if he wanted.
I sat and watched the Grinch for the first time in years and laughed almost as much as he did at the silly-looking monster trying to take away everyone's happiness.
It no longer felt like a burden but a real joy getting ready for the season because I could see the reason why we do all this in his eyes.
Going to bed on Christmas Eve, I had that pit in my stomach, an anxious, nervous feeling for the next morning. It was a feeling I had not felt in a very long time.
I did finally go back to sleep, since 2 a.m. is an ugly hour no matter who you are, and I awoke around 7 a.m. to experience my first Christmas morning as a dad. Like I said, he didn't care about the toys as much as the stuff it came in, but he was excited about it all.
I can't recall a better Christmas and as he grows up and begins to understand what it is all really about, I will get the chance to experience all those feelings and excitement all over again.
If I listen real close, I think I can hear that bell again.