Now that I have a son, I have a new appreciation for it all.

Only the charm of the holiday season could make fast food seem magical.

As a kid, one of my favorite traditions involved piling into the minivan with my sisters, holding a thermos full of hot chocolate in one hand and a Happy Meal in the other. With Alvin and the Chipmunks' Christmas cassette tape playing at full blast we'd head out on our journey. Destination: the North Pole.

In recent years my mom confessed this voyage was actually just a spin around the outskirts of town. But five-year-old me was convinced we’d made it to the Arctic Circle, and that families of happy elves just had to live inside all those houses twinkling with Christmas lights.

That’s the thing about the holidays -- even the everyday becomes enchanting. The holiday season is especially whimsical to children (you know that saying, “like a kid at Christmas”). It’s true, some of my most beloved childhood memories center around the holiday season: decorating the tree, Christmas Eve at my grandpa’s, listening for Santa’s sleigh bells, and the anticipation for Christmas morning when my sisters and I would wake up, wide-eyed, at some ridiculously early hour. The thought of a man slipping quietly into our house in the middle of the night, eating our sweets and leaving us all those toys while we slept was exhilarating. As a kid, there’s just something magical about it all. For a little one, there’s nothing more bewitching than believing.

As I grew older, Christmas lost some of its excitement. We stopped listening for reindeer hooves and we’d wake up later and later. My wish list evolved from fun to practical, and my own shopping list grew and grew. There were some years when this season lacked the luster it once had.

But this year, my second holiday season as a mother, that feeling of anticipation is back. Experiencing Christmas as a child and experiencing Christmas as a mom are extremely different, but there’s an excitement that’s comparable. Now that I have a son, I have a new appreciation for it all. It's amazing to see the season through his innocent, believing eyes.

It’s true there’s nothing like being a kid at Christmas, but there’s also nothing like having a kid at Christmas. And now that I'm the mom, I recognize how we as parents are charged with creating the memories and traditions that our children will treasure forever. How cool is that?