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Yesterday, we strolled hand in hand, past the Macy’s department store in downtown Chicago.

The crowds were overbearing, most of them grumpy or hurried or just tired, and it took us almost 20 minutes to walk the one block past the windows on the iconic building. We were happy, though: we took our time to stare at the intricate craft of the holiday displays in the windows, marveled at the painstaking care taken to tell the lovely Christmas story, and smiled at the joyous faces of the children who were enraptured with the motion and color.

Every year, I make it a point to look into the Christmas windows, whether in Toronto, or Chicago, or New York, or wherever I may be that holiday season. In years past, the hand I held while I gawked at the displays like a child was different from the hand I held yesterday, but the feeling was the same: happiness, joy, curiosity, awe, and anticipation.

Despite the thousands of people shuffling their way across the sidewalks, when I stare at the displays, I feel like it is just the two of us there, on the pavement, enjoying a special moment full of color and life and cheer. I can’t help but be amazed by the craftsmanship, by the design, by the stories that each window tells.

I realized yesterday that the feeling I have staring at the window was not just tied to the hand I held, but to the childlike anticipation that the person connected to that hand will remind me, as they always do, that they love me — and that the upcoming holidays will be filled with even more love, as they always are.