A little more magic, if you please

As I write this article, I'm in the throes of "the most wonderful time of the year." My kitchen island is littered with barely-legible to-do lists, package deliveries are coming in so fast and furious Vin Diesel would blush and my browser has so many open tabs that I fear my laptop is about to overheat. The same goes for my brain: Ho-ho-holy crap, there's still so much to do.

When I was younger, I didn't truly understand what went into making the holidays special. Write a list for Santa? Leave out milk and cookies? Agonizing over naughty versus nice parameters? Check, check, check. But when I realized how many lines were waited in, the hours spent meal planning for a massive Italian family (we consume seven types of fish on Christmas Eve alone) and the endless wrapping-induced paper cuts endured, I was humbled - and mildly terrified of my seasonal future.

Dramatic? Perhaps, but after glimpsing behind the festive curtain, my concerns weren't totally unfounded. Every year brought new challenges: Perpetuating the ruse just a liiiiiiittle longer for my younger siblings, juggling holiday expenses with rent/bills on a starting salary, finding THE gift for my then-boyfriend now-husband, making visiting family feel at home and now - coming full circle - providing an epic sense of wonder for my kids for a month and change. Yeesh.

Manifesting holiday magic is a full-time job. Clearly not well-paying monetarily but personally rewarding. The awe on my sons' faces upon meeting Santa was picture perfect ... as was the look of horror when one flubbed the name of the toy he'd been wanting for months. (Crisis averted: The elves scooped one in October.) Their joy in deconstructing paper chain countdowns, their excitement over advent calendar reveals and even their kerfuffles involving glue stick seniority and cotton ball allocation were special. My hope is they remember these times as fondly as I do my own childhood. Thirtyish years later, I still get warm and fuzzy looking back.

Today, that magic remains palpable in our house. The tree? Standing tall in the corner. The stockings? Hung by the chimney with care. The boys? Conducting living room Wrestlemania with oversized Grogu and Bluey plushies. My feet will be up (until I'm inevitably asked to fetch snacks) and my stress level will be down. After weeks of late nights and moving parts, this scene is a welcomed change.

As we enter a new year of uncertainty, I am sure of something: A little magic goes a long way. I'm planning to hang onto it for as long as I can and encourage you to do the same.

If that fails? Let's try again, same time next year.

- Lex Silberberg of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].