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My favourite part of the holidays, the part that I look forward to even more than the big day itself, is Christmas Eve. No matter where I am when December 24th finally rolls around childhood nostalgia finds me.

Remember being little and waiting for Santa to arrive? Keeping careful watch on the skies above your house, listening intently for the soft pitter-patter of reindeer hooves on the roof or the tell-tale jingle of bells, preparing milk, cookies and carrots for your soon-to-be-guests, and dashing madly to bed, trying desperately to push excitement from your mind so you could fall asleep and meet morning a little earlier. These are but a few of the fond memories that come rushing back to me every year.

I also remember my childhood dog, Trilby, eagerly supporting my carefree elation! Whether wrapping or shaking presents under the tree, baking goodies with my grandmother, building intricate snowmen in the front yard for Santa to see, singing carols with the other neighbourhood children or curling up for a festive bedtime story, Trilby was always there with a waggy tail supporting the season’s magic.  She always fell asleep after me on the foot of my bed, but on Christmas Eve I would fervently try to coax her to sleep before me so that she wouldn’t be awake when Santa came — because everyone knows Santa flies over houses where somebody tries to stay up to see him, right?

I think pets in general help children discover their imaginations, because they tell their pets secrets, play games with them and firmly believe that they are more than just a dog, cat or rabbit — they are a friend, a being, a faithful sidekick who also believes in magic and wonder. On Christmas Eve especially, when magic is almost tangible and swirling amidst a flurry of snowflakes and cheer, I think pets help us rekindle that sense of awe from childhood. How do your pets make the Christmas season magical?