When the kids were little, they slept under it. They hid things in it. They ate their after-school snacks next to it. They touched every ornament and picked their favorites. We swept up the shards and learned to hang the precious ones higher.
Amazingly, now that they are teenagers, the effect is no less hypnotic. They do their homework in the living room instead of holed up in their bedrooms. We light candles and build a fire in the fireplace, even on school nights. Hot chocolate, cider and eggnog flow freely, and without parental reproof. For one month of the year there is something in our house that is a bigger draw than the television or Facebook. What a joy! If only it lasted forever.