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First Christmas with the Guard Family

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Steven Graves and his family at the base Christmas Party at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL on Decmber 2, 2012.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Scott Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Steven Graves and his family at the base Christmas Party at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL on Decmber 2, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Scott Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Trevor Frankel brings his daughter to see Santa Claus at the base Christmas Party at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL on Decmber 2, 2012.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Scott Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Trevor Frankel brings his daughter to see Santa Claus at the base Christmas Party at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL on Decmber 2, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Scott Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Trevor Frankel brings his daughter to see Santa Claus at the base Christmas Party at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL on Decmber 2, 2012.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Scott Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Trevor Frankel brings his daughter to see Santa Claus at the base Christmas Party at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, IL on Decmber 2, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Scott Thompson/Released)

12/18/2012 -- As with many years past and many more to come, December UTA brought a Christmas party for the 182d Airlift Wing family to our very own hangar. Following a Commander's Call by Colonel William Robertson, the base populace was released to enjoy the Christmas festivities with their families, including food, games, and socializing with the Wing extended family. To top off the event, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and a team of elves were kind enough to take time from their busy schedules to make a stop at the installation to give out Christmas presents early. This year was especially unique to two families in particular, as they were celebrating the holidays with a brand new member of their family.

For newlyweds Recruiter TSgt Stephen Graves and his wife it will be their first Christmas with their infant daughter. The couple had not decided definitively on what traditions they would incorporate into their first Christmas as a family, but were leaning towards leaving cookies and milk for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. "Of course, you never forget the real meaning of Christmas, but as an adult you kind of get lost in the commercialism and, you know, buying gifts and who to buy gifts for," says TSgt Graves. "But when you have children, it brings that excitement back to see the happiness in them, and to pass down the morals and the values and the true meaning of Christmas to your kids and all the other traditions that go along with it...You're starting your own traditions with your first family, so it makes Christmas exciting again."

Also celebrating their first Christmas with a baby was TSgt Trevor Frankel of the Maintenance Squadron and his wife. Their daughter was only weeks old as her parents introduced her to the festivities, co-workers, and Santa Claus. She is finally sleeping through the night, and looked very comfortable and peaceful during the merriment. For the family's first Christmas with the baby, they begin the tradition of exchanging presents at home and celebrating with the extended family in the afternoon.  Regarding the experience of preparing for the baby's first Christmas, the Frankel family described best it in one word as "exciting".