Let me tell you about the cover of this issue because, for me, it sums up so much of the joy of the holiday season: It's got squiggles and giggles, velvet and glitter, and it almost had nudity.

First, the squiggles and giggles. Our cover model, Cooper, is the 1-year-old son of my Capital Style and Dispatch colleagues Kristy Eckert and Mike Wagner. My desk is next to Kristy's, so I knew she had a photogenic kid she could share with me.

She and Mike also have a future sprinter. The best shots that intrepid photographer Daniel Sohner nabbed came in the microseconds between popping Cooper in the big box (which didn't bother him in the least) and him crawling at warp speed toward the nearest shiny metal object. But always with a smile on his face! The kid's a natural.

The velvet and glitter were my contribution. I originally planned to wrap a big box with something shiny, but then I got the idea to line a box with fabric. It's one of those craft projects I remembered from when I was home with my first baby. From those cable-network shows I got ideas for all sorts of home-beautifying activities, the likes of which always left my husband afraid to ask how my day had gone. Covering storage boxes with fabric, using an aerosol tacky-glue spray, was one of my favorites.

So I bought out the velvet remnants at a fabric store and went nuts with the glue spray (although, yes, some duct tape was involved as well). The result, as one editor here observed, looked like an appropriate gift box for housing a human child.

As for the near nudity, after getting many great photos of Cooper clad in his PJs, he needed a diaper change. Now any parent knows there's a linear relationship between nudity and happiness in children (and more than a few adults), so we decided to throw him back in the box with just his diapers on. Trust me when I say if you think Cooper looks happy in the cover photo, you should have seen him sans clothing.

So what does all that have to do with the meaning of Christmas? The holiday season is a time to bring some creativity and outsized whimsy to the ordinary, and to give ourselves room to squiggle, giggle and enjoy our families to the fullest. I hope your holiday season is full of all this and more!