MARIETTA - The Christmas season is already a special time of year, but the season takes on extra meaning for parents of a baby who's experiencing the wonder of the holiday for the very first time.
Ailsa Craig turned 13 days old on Christmas Day, a Dec. 12, 2012, baby born to Chris and Megan Craig of Marietta.
Family gatherings are a big holiday tradition for the Craigs, and this year baby Ailsa will take part in the festivities, along with brother Owen, 3, and big sister Magnolia, 5.
Twelve-day-old Ailsa Craig, of Marietta, is surrounded by her family on Christmas Eve, including, from left, brother Owen, 3, father, Chris, mother, Megan, and sister, Magnolia, 5. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
"We try to spend as much time as possible with our families," Megan said. "This year will be especially great because we have a lot of family coming in for Christmas."
Another tradition for Megan is making Christmas stockings for each of her children.
"I stitch their names into each stocking," she said. "And of course every year we recite 'The Night Before Christmas.'"
In Belpre, Kelley and Jordan Klemick celebrated their first Christmas with 5-month-old Edie and her 3-year-old big brother, Maks.
"She was born at home in July - the first to be born at home in Washington County this year," Kelley said.
The Klemicks have some special holiday traditions that they're passing on to the children.
"Jordan's father, who passed away earlier this year, always made eggrolls for Christmas," Kelley said. "I'm not sure why, but it's become a tradition for us, so Edie will be learning how to make eggrolls."
She said Maks is now old enough to provide some help with the eggroll-making.
"Another tradition from Jordan's mother is writing a letter to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, then tossing the letter into the fireplace where it burns and the smoke goes up the chimney," Kelley said. "Somehow Santa always magically receives the letter."
She noted Maks has written his letter to Santa, asking for "a bike that won't dump me."
Kelley said she'll also pass on a favorite tradition of her own.
"We always lie beneath the Christmas tree and look up through the branches at the lights," she said. "And that's something Edie will be able to do this year."
In addition, the Klemicks are passing down the importance of sharing at Christmas as they encourage the children to give away one of their older toys to the local family crisis center.
In Devola, Nicole and Justin Fortune also have a 5-month-old son, Jacob. It's their first baby and his first Christmas.
"There's something my mom always did that I will do, too, every Christmas," Nicole said. "On the night we put up our Christmas tree we always got a new ornament. And when I moved away from home I had all of my ornaments."
She said Jacob is already starting his collection with his first baby ornament.
"He'll also get new pajamas every Christmas Eve," Nicole added.
She said Jacob loves looking at Christmas lights and caroling.
"I took him out caroling with me recently," Nicole said. "He was the littlest caroler in the group. He didn't sing, but brought along his own special joy."
Born to Tiffany Bowman and Edwin Price II of Marietta, Edwin William Price III turned 13 days old on Christmas day.
"He's our first baby, a healthy boy born on 12-12-12," Price said. "And he already has two Christmas outfits and three baby's first Christmas ornaments."
Edwin III will grow up among plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins who gather together every Christmas.
"He'll be surrounded by a big extended family with at least 40 cousins," Price said. "We celebrate like most families with trees, lights, Christmas cards and a big dinner."
He said the baby is a bit young to know what's going on now.
"But he really likes the Christmas lights," Price said.
In Parkersburg, Carissa Miller and Larry Coon were working on at least one new tradition they shared with their 10-month-old, Violet Eve Miller.
"She likes Christmas lights a lot, so we'll probably drive her around the neighborhoods every year," Miller said. "She's always 'oohing' and 'aahhing' when she sees the lights."
Coon said his daughter likes the Christmas tree, too.
"Mention the word 'tree' to Violet and you can tell she knows exactly what we're talking about," he said.
Something Violet apparently didn't like this year was one of the first Christmas gifts she opened.
"She opened a Peek A Boo Bear and was in instant terror," Miller said.
Coon said Violet likes bears and playing peek-a-boo, but combining the two must have overwhelmed her. However, Christmas music seems to be a favorite for the baby.
"We get together and sing Christmas songs to her-she loves singing and music," Miller said.