Every year I make a stencil out of paper to look like a very large boot. On Christmas night after our kids are asleep and all the Santa work is done, I make boot prints leading out of the fireplace. I put the boot stencil on the ground and sprinkle baking soda through a sieve lightly. Lifting up the stencil I add another boot in a stepping pattern from the fireplace to the Christmas tree. As the prints get farther from the fireplace, I lighten the look of the "fireplace ash" until it is barely there. After I have all the boot prints set, I also add a few pieces of the actual coal ash from our fireplace to the baking soda prints to give a "real" look. This tradition was started the year my second child was born. Teale was in the NICU recovering from her traumatic birth and gastroschisis repair after being born on December 9th, 1998. I was looking for a little extra "magic" as the month had been so difficult on our family. We practically lived at the NiCU that year. Our son, Beau, had turned three in August and although I was excited for Christmas with him, I knew it would be tough to wake up Christmas morning without my Teale at home also. Somehow this year seemed like the perfect magical year with Beau. He was old enough to really understand the traditions, the facts around Christmas and the magic. He was so excited to "catch" Santa and was sure he would. I looked forward to seeing his face in the morning when he realized he missed catching the "Big Guy." We continue this tradition today and as each child becomes more savvy, I wonder what they think. But the truth is, Teale will probably always believe, years after her little sister, Gwenn, has discovered the truth. So every Christmas eve, after all the gifts are set under the tree and the stockings are filled, I make the boot prints and go to bed dreaming of the magic of the season.