Hate the holidays? Have a kid.

How one writer’s son helped him rediscover Christmas.

Answer: Have children.

One Christmas Day when my sister Amy and I were in our teens, we split our time between our mom’s and dad’s homes. This entailed a 275-mile drive on snow-packed Montana two-lane roads capped by a trek over the Continental Divide, at the top of which we almost hit a jackknifed semi. We arrived at our dad’s house that evening to discover the family had eaten dinner without us. That was the day I gave up on Christmas.

Nearly 20 years later, I had my first child, Nicholas. The first time he sat on Santa’s lap, he confided that he’d been named after the jolly fat man. I don’t know where he got that idea, but he still believes it.

Hell, maybe it’s true. Nick certainly has rekindled the spirit of Christmas in my dark soul. Every year, we attend the Macy’s tree lighting and eat a festive lunch in the Walnut Room. Even at age 8, he still asked for a sprinkle of fairy dust on his head last month. We buy one fancy glass ornament at Christkindlmarket each holiday season, and I sometimes drink more than one ceramic boot full of glühwein. We never miss ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo, Holiday Lights at Brookfield, Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier or A Christmas Carol at the Goodman. I do it all without complaint. In fact, I do it with joy, because I get to experience these events through the delighted eyes of my son, and now through those of his baby sister.

So, if you hate the holidays, have a kid—or borrow one for a day. If you choose the latter course, though, be sure to ask first.

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