New baby means new blessings, traditions for Gazette reporter

Son's first Christmas: What do we keep? What changes? What do we add?
Daily Gazette reporter Steven Cook with wife Laurie and son Thacher.
Daily Gazette reporter Steven Cook with wife Laurie and son Thacher.

Categories: Life & Arts

I remember the first Christmas I spent with my future wife. We opened presents at home before I went in for my scheduled Gazette holiday shift where a murder case awaited.

From that first Christmas many years ago, we’ve amassed a string of holiday traditions all our own. And thankfully they usually don’t involve me heading in for work.

There’s the real tree decorated with help from the extended family. The cheap chocolate Advent calendars we dutifully open on alternating days. And the Christmas movie selections of “Elf” on Christmas Eve and “Die Hard” on Christmas Eve Eve.

But this Christmas — and every Christmas from now on — will be different. It won’t just be us. It will be us and our son Thacher, known on my Twitter feed fully as “my boy Thacher.” 

This is our son’s first Christmas. So what do we keep? What changes? What do we add?

Well, we’ve had some ideas already, from the tree decorations to the stockings and the movie selections. (Maybe “Die Hard” after bedtime?)

My wife and I actually grew up in very different households. Hers was a real-tree family. She’d go out with her sister and her parents from a young age, pick out the perfect color and shape, and triumphantly return it home to decorate as the house fills with the scent of pine. 


My family, however, was a fake-tree family. Every year, some time after Thanksgiving, my father would give the word and we would head to the basement. That’s where our tree lived. We’d bring up the trunk and the base, the branches and the crown, and we’d assemble. Each branch had its own color at the tip that corresponded with slots in the trunk. The ends were kind of sharp, so we had to watch those. Dad then slid the top on and we’d decorate. 

Thacher’s first Christmas has already been settled, as, apparently, each Christmas in the future: It’s a real tree. We brought it home with the extended family after Thanksgiving and decorated it, complete with our set of plastic “Star Wars” ornaments. I let Thacher play with the solid plastic Millennium Falcon (no small parts), which he promptly gummed like I would imagine that creature from “Empire Strikes Back” would have, had it caught Han and the crew.

Stockings, we worked on those. At least my wife did. She enjoys knitting and worked on a whole new set of three. We went to the craft store a few weeks ago, Thacher in his carrier in a cart, and picked out colors. We settled on maroon and bright green and cream colors. There were a few false starts, but they came along. The cool thing about that is, my sister and I had knitted stockings as a kid, made by my mother. (She made everything). So Thacher will have the same thing, Christmas stockings made by his mother, with pictures of him on the outing to get the yarn.

And, of course, there’s Christmas morning itself. No more sleeping in. Of course, we haven’t been doing that in a while anyway. This year it will probably still be the “feed me” type early wake-up call. Next year or the year after, I’m sure, it will be the wide-eyed-wondrous-half-eaten-cookies-on-the-counter-because-Santa-was-here wake-up call tradition. That, I would imagine, is the best of all.

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