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by CareyBot

My 11-month-old daughter toddles around the tree, entranced by the twinkly lights and bright ornaments. Her voice screeches with delight as she attempts to walk on her own, and when she tires she holds my hands and bounces up and down to the Christmas music, adding a whole new element of celebration to the season. But we haven't always spent our Sunday afternoons drinking hot chocolate and clapping along to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Turn back the calendar to 2009, and my house is dark, treeless and quiet. I am sitting the first of two open houses, enjoying someone else's Christmas decorations and platter of homemade wreath cookies. My phone is sited within a one-ring "hello" next to my laptop -- which is open, the screens flipping from Constant Contact ...