Serving Franklin County, WA

Christmas magic alive and well

As a youngster, I looked forward to Christmas. I loved the food, the traditions and especially the presents — what kid doesn’t?

In high school and college, the luster subsided. As a wrestler, Christmas was a time for fasting so I didn’t have to move up a weight class. I dreaded running extra bleachers, doing additional up-downs and all the “fat man” jokes from teammates.

Christmas would become just one of those “OK” holidays for me after college. As a journalist, I would be lucky to have the day off. And since I continued to wrestle competitively until I was about 30, I was still dieting. No Christmas ham for me.

Things changed for me 20 years ago.

In 2002, my daughter Olivia was born in May. That summer, I took her to Costa Rica (I know, at 3 months old she would never remember, but she looked awfully cute sitting in her Jeep stroller high atop Poas volcano.) It never dawned on me that my father would pass away without meeting his granddaughter, but that’s what happened.

He passed away Dec. 22 — 20 years ago today.

Needless to say, that was a tough Christmas for our family. But, although I didn’t know it at the time, it was a Christmas that would rekindle the magic of the holidays for me.

By the following Christmas, I was all in.

My walking and talking daughter, Livy, was a year old. I wanted to see her face light up when she opened gifts. And I would grow to love watching the thrashing she would give to wrapping on presents and boxes.

I would laugh heartily when I listened to her lip smack her lips as she ate any and all holiday goodies she could get her hands on. I can still hear her running round the house, yelling, “Eat! Daddy, Eat!.”

As a family, traditions became a priority.

And in years to come, we would take up the challenge of Christmas tree hunting in mountains. With a Thermos, winter clothing and a bow saw in hand, it’d be an all-day hunt, culminating in a hot meal, the traditional battle with the tree stand, several glasses of eggnog and the decorating of the tree. One year, we found a tree so tall the top stuck up through the second-floor stairwell.

As a family, we returned to midnight Mass, reminder of the reason for the season. We also re-engaged with distant family members, sharing those moments we missed over the year.

We’d make a special trip to Bellevue each year for the Snowflake Lake, the Garden d’Lights, ice skating and shopping. As she got older, we added a hockey game in either Wenatchee or the Tri-Cities.

Christmas has come full circle for me.

This year, my daughter is in the U.S. Army. She won’t make it home in time for Christmas, but maybe a day or two later, weather — and her commander — permitting.

Regardless, the magic of Christmas is alive and thriving in our household. And I hope it thrives in yours.

Have a very, Merry Christmas.

— Roger Harnack is the publisher of Free Press Publishing. Email him at [email protected].

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

Author photo

Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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