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There's no doubt that a baby's first Christmas is memorable to Mom and Dad, Grandmom and Grandpop, and perhaps siblings if there are any; but Christmas memories don't form in the tiny memory bank for a year or two after that premier day. 

Those are the years when the infant becomes a toddler and then becomes alert to the sights and sounds, smells, and merriment that surrounds this grand holiday that marks the birth of Jesus. 

Mostly all of us can recall those early Christmas Eves and Christmas mornings when it seems the commonplace was transformed into the mystical. Tiny electric trains and wee houses formed villages with skaters, little towns that remain in our minds for a lifetime.  

Maybe the memories were enriched by hours of preparation and toil by mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and friends gathered in scent-filled kitchens to bake cookies and other treats we would enjoy, with strange tasting stuff like eggnog. 

Some, who were blessed by having homes in or near woodlands, may have fond recollections of heading into cold forests to scout for a perfect tree. Once chopped and brought home, that fine evergreen would be adorned with bulbs and globes, popcorn, and tinsel. The common tree would become the family's centerpiece of the holiday.  

For many, a tiny set of figures was an essential part of Christmas. It was the Nativity set that was set somewhere in the living room. Children were drawn to the colorful little characters. Often the central figure, baby Jesus was not placed into the manger until Christmas Eve. Some families withheld placing the three Magi until Jan. 6, the Feast of the Three Kings, commonly known as the Feast of Epiphany. It is the 12th day of Christmas, but sadly, that important day has been swallowed by the commercialism of Christmas.  

Common is the sight of a complete Nativity set out there for Christmas Eve and the next morning.  

Candy is another reminder of the holiday for children. At an early age, many toddlers learn the taste and stickiness of a peppermint cane. 

Older folks may remember rock candy or those colorful toys on a stick that seemed to take forever to finish. 

The opening of presents is perhaps the most memorable moment of the holiday. Shaking colorfully wrapped boxes to try to imagine what rests beneath ends when the paper is torn off in an instant and the secret contents are revealed.  

Soon, the holidays end. Ornaments are carefully tucked away for another year. The wonderful things that were so special Dec. 24 and 25 lose their luster. Toys that seemed to sparkle on Christmas morn may still work, but that is a stretch.  

The Nativity set is carefully tucked away with cotton or plastic wrap.  

All that remains are the memories. As time passes, those "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments are still hung on the tree by parents who recall when tiny feet made the holiday special. For the children who were once babies, such trinkets may cause embarrassment, watching for Santa and his sleigh pulled by eight tiny, flying reindeer.  

Most important is that they remember and believe, always believe, and never quit believing in things that cannot be seen. 

Campbell writes from Court House. He is the Herald's managing editor emeritus, who retired after 31 years Sept. 1, 2019. 

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