Merry Christmas, Chesapeake Country!

 By Meg Walburn Viviano

As I write this greeting, I’m sitting at my computer with a dish of gumdrop candies and red jellybeans—leftovers from decorating a gingerbread house with my two preschoolers. 

I have a confession: I do not enjoy this holiday tradition. It’s messy—the royal icing I made and then shoved into an icing-piping bag oozed over the top of the bag as I piped each roof shingle and windowpane. It’s time-consuming. And it’s lonely work—I was soon decorating entirely alone as the kids lost interest and went bouncing out of the kitchen hyped up on icing. 

I won’t even get into the cleanup required once the gingerbread house is finished. 

Like almost everything at Christmas, we do it for the kids. A meme has been shared widely on social media this year. Over a photo of a beautiful, lighted Christmas tree it reads: “As a grown-up I’ve learned that all the Christmas magic I felt as a kid…was really a mom and dad who loved me so damn much.” 

I think we can all think back to something our parents did for us at Christmastime—something that probably felt a little silly (like nibbling on the cookies left for Santa on Christmas Eve and disguising their handwriting on Santa’s “thanks for the cookies” note.) Maybe they went to great effort hanging strings of lights from the eaves, plus candles in every window, so the house would look special every time we came home. Perhaps they stayed up past midnight on Christmas Eve, assembling that one large toy so it would be ready with a big bow on top in the morning. 

My parents did all these things at one time or another to create feelings of anticipation and magic in me. It didn’t occur to me that hauling out the decorations was a lot of work—I assumed they were just as excited as I was. Why did they go to the trouble? Probably because their parents had done the same for them, way back when, and they remembered the magical feeling. 

In this special Christmas issue of CBM Bay Weekly, we’re tapping into that feeling by going straight to the source: children’s imaginations. In our feature story (, we’ve printed some charming holiday stories set at the North Pole, with Santa and the elves in starring roles. We hope it reminds you of the Christmas magic you felt as a child. 

We’re also unveiling the winner of our Bay Weekly holiday house lights contest. Let’s admit it: homes lit up like Las Vegas can’t help but make you feel like a kid again. 

And yes, even decorating a gingerbread house can make you feel like a kid again, if you manage to look past the globs of hardened icing cemented to the counter and floor. There’s a photo somewhere of my mom and me (around age 7), posing with our gingerbread house in matching red aprons. I wish my mom were still around to ask her whether she actually enjoyed the task, but maybe it’s best not to know. She gave me the gift of Christmas magic, and by doing so, ensured that I would give the gift to my own children. Hope you feel some magic this week, too.