merry little christmas

I’m still kind of basking in the glow of our lovely little Christmas.  It was the prefect combination of loud, family chaos and quiet moments for just the three of us.

Normally, we would spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my parents’ house, but this year, because of some logistical circumstances, we hosted the Christmas Eve gathering at our house.

I took Evelyn to daycare for a few hours on Christmas Eve so that I could run some errands and take care of some prep for the party.  My siblings started to arrive around 3:00 and what followed was about 6 hours of food, laughter, spirits, sarcasm, jokes about bodily functions, paper-tearing, mess-making, fireside fun.  My brother brought a vat of English Christmas punch.  Oh my, I will be making that every year from now on. It was a lot of fun watching Evelyn and my nephews tear open their gifts.  Evelyn wasn’t really into the ripping and shredding.  She would tear at the package in a few places and then hand it to me and say “Mommy, help.”

On Christmas morning, it was just the three of us, and I have to say, I actually enjoyed the quiet time.  We had breakfast, opened our gifts and just took our time, relaxing by the fire and sipping coffee, enjoying an album of Michael’s baby pictures that his mom had sent us.

Christmas Morning (5)

Christmas Morning (15)

We definitely have started to lay out some new traditions for our family.  On Christmas Eve, after everyone went home, Evelyn was in bed, and the mess had been mostly cleaned up, we flopped down exhausted on the couch.  Michael pulled out his Bible and read aloud Luke 2:1-21.  For the past several years, he has told me that this was a tradition in his family, but we never did it ourselves until now.  I also decided to buy Evelyn an ornament and will continue to do so every year until she is on her own and has her own Christmas tree.  Then she will have a collection of ornaments all ready to go.  This year I got her this Mickey Mouse ornament.  Michael grew up in Florida and used to work and play at Disney, so it seemed like a good idea.

DSC_0709

I’m also really glad we stuck to the 3 gift rule.  Between aunts and uncles and grandparents, Evelyn got plenty of gifts and it wasn’t too overwhelming for her.  I saw so many pictures on facebook of trees with piles and piles of gifts underneath and it gave me anxiety just imagining trying to find a home for all those new toys.  We kept it simple and we are still going to have to do some cleaning out and rearranging of toys.

Christmas Morning (14)

On Christmas evening, we always go to my grandparents’ home, so we made the hour long trek like we usually do, packed some pajamas for Evelyn, and visited with my dad’s side of the family.  Evelyn fell asleep in the car just minutes before we arrived back home and I knew she would be no trouble going to bed when I put her in her crib and she said, “Turn off the lights, Mommy.”

Another Christmas come and gone.  This year was an excellent one.  How was your holiday?  Crazy or quiet?  Or maybe a little of both…

the santa thing

Another blogger I follow recently posed the question on facebook, do you do the Santa thing?

This is something that I have thought about quite a bit, even before I ever had a child. Would I “do the Santa thing” with my child?

As Evelyn gets older, Michael and I really have to solidify our holiday traditions. This year will be her third Christmas, and while she is just turning two, she is so very aware. Already, she knows Santa Claus. She doesn’t really know what he does, but she can pick him out in a line-up. She also knows he’s “coming to town” and loves to sing for all the world to know. But she has no idea about presents or chimneys or flying reindeer or a naughty list and the more I think about all that “the Santa thing” entails, the more I’m sure we won’t do it with Evelyn.

This image has been floating around the internet and it really puts a visual to the approach I plan to take regarding Santa.

santa-and-the-christ-child

Santa is a pretty likable guy. I have nothing against him. I am not anti-Santa. But I really don’t like the idea of lying to my kids…even if it is just for “fun”.  Yes, my parents did the Santa thing and I turned out fine, but they never went to the extreme to make me “believe” and I knew pretty early on that Santa wasn’t real.

So, while we aren’t planning to do Santa, we aren’t going to hide him from Evelyn or demonize him.  The man behind the legend was raised with Christian values by wealthy parents.  They died when he was rather young and he used his inheritance to help the poor, particularly children.  Unfortunately, low income children these days are less likely to receive gifts from Santa and the Santa that we know today is very far removed from the man who helped the poor.  He’s more like a character in a story…just like Elmo and Curious George (her faves). He is fictional.  So, we will read The Night Before Christmas every year. We will tell the story of St. Nick. She will know the legend. She will understand that some people like to dress up like Santa and pretend to be him.  Hopefully, we will also be able to teach her that others do believe and to respect their right to do that. I don’t want her to be the kid that teases other kids for believing. Just like I wouldn’t want her to be teased for her beliefs.

I know people who would argue that by not doing the Santa thing, we are robbing our child of her imagination and the “magic” of Christmas.  I would argue that planning out an elaborate scheme to convince a child that Santa exists does not foster the imagination.  Children are imaginative all on their own.

So, how will we celebrate?  What will our traditions look like?

Several years ago, a co-worker told me that when her son was young, they didn’t have a lot of money. She couldn’t afford to get him a lot for Christmas so she would give him three gifts, to represent the gifts given to the baby Jesus by the Three Kings. If three gifts were good enough for the baby Jesus, it had to be good enough for their family. That story has stuck with me and now, as I look ahead to Christmas, I have three gifts for Evelyn, and as she gets older and becomes involved in the giving part of Christmas, she will help Michael and I choose three gifts for each other as well.  I like the idea of three simple gifts.  She will always know what to expect and hopefully not feel entitled to mountains and mountains of presents.  I suppose that part of my problem with the Santa thing is the materialism that comes along with it.  I don’t want her to expect anything and everything she asks for and to be disappointed if she doesn’t get it.  I would much rather focus on the giving part of the holiday rather than the receiving part.

I’m sure we will also incorporate other traditions from our own childhoods and create new ones as we go forward.  Santa will be there, but he won’t be the focus.

What do your Christmas traditions look like?  Do you do the Santa thing?

 

gift ideas for toddlers

I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper.  I dunno…something about standing in line in the cold to fight huge crowds for junk that will be forgotten in a few weeks just doesn’t appeal to me.  Call me crazy.  So, while the masses are packing themselves into the stores like cattle, I will be sleeping in, sipping coffee by the fire and munching on Thanksgiving leftovers.

I really enjoy doing a lot of my shopping online.  I never seem to find exactly what I am looking for in the stores anyway and with a birthday and Christmas quickly approaching, I have been working on a brainstorm list of possible gifts for my almost 2-year-old.

Ok, I actually purchased this one already for her birthday.  I can’t wait for her to see it.  Then she can cook in her own kitchen when we are cooking in ours.

kitchen

 

And along with the kitchen, she’s going to need all the essentials.

 

pots and pans

 

She’s really into dress-up and pretend play right now and, like no other child I’ve known, she likes going to the doctor.  She has a real stethoscope that a nurse gave her during our stay in the hospital and she loves to play with it, but it’s kind of difficult for her to use.  I think a small one would be much easier for her.

doctor kit

 

I think she would really like these tools to use with her home made playdough.

 

playdough tools

 

Time for some big girl panties.  With her second birthday approaching, I am hoping to start potty training pretty soon.  Maybe these cute fruit prints will add some motivation.

 

panties

Can I just say that I am so glad that expensive, electronic toys are not even on her radar yet?

I guess if I am going to order online, I had better make my choices soon so everything can be delivered in time.  Are you finished with your Christmas shopping or just starting?

a holiday state of mind

macys

It’s really no surprise that the shops are playing Christmas music and that the Christmas trees made their holiday debut right next to the Halloween costumes.  There are always a handful of people who seem surprised that retailers are shoving Christmas down our throats so early, but I have to wonder if those people have been living under a rock.  Unfortunately, presents and the material trappings have become the focus of Christmas for many people and it’s been this way for years.

I’ve noticed on my facebook news feed that there seem to be two types of people who are commenting about the approach of Christmas.  There are those who are already humming Christmas tunes and donning their Christmas socks and there are those who are in denial that it will literally be here before we know it.

I like to think that I fall somewhere in the middle.  I love Christmas and I do get excited about the approach of the holidays, but I’m not really ready to start the party until after Thanksgiving.  One holiday at a time please.

So which type are you?  Do you love to see the candy canes hit the shelf or are you more of a scrooge?

holiday movie bucket list

This year I’m in the holiday mood a little early (though I’m still not ready for 24 hour Christmas music on the radio).  With Evelyn’s birthday quickly approaching and a million things to do at work, I know the next 6 weeks are going to fly, so I’m already thinking about when to decorate (next weekend) and what my weekends will look like throughout the holiday season.

I don’t have a big bucket list for the holidays like the ones I keep seeing on Pinterest.  I mainly want to just enjoy my daughter this year.  But I do have a list of movies that I have to watch to make my holidays complete.  Here they are, in no particular order…

The Holiday:  I don’t typically like sappy romantic comedies, but I love everything about this movie.  And two hours worth of Jude Law doesn’t hurt either.

While You Were Sleeping:  Ok, I’m not proud of this one.  Bill Pullman is not exactly a leading man to swoon over, but Sandra Bullock is charming and this one has just stuck with me.  But I’ll have to watch it when Michael’s not around because he just won’t tolerate it.

Love Actually:  Are you noticing a theme here?  I’m not sure why I’m so into the love stories around the holidays.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:  Now for a change of pace.  This is one that I absolutely cannot miss.  It never loses its funny and inspires a barrage of silly and inappropriate quotes from my family. It’s the perfect combination of stupid and hilarious.  There’s nothing like a little sarcasm and profanity for the holidays!  If you haven’t seen this, crawl out from under that rock and watch it. Now. I’ll wait.

A Christmas Story:  A classic.  Ok, so I know they play it endlessly (for 24 hours) on Christmas day, and it’s probably been a little over-exposed, but I love it anyway.  I first discovered this movie by accident.  I think my mom brought it home from the video store (remember those?) and I was expecting it to be some lame, random Christmas movie.  I never expected it to be so funny.  Watching this movie is tradition.

I know, I know.  There aren’t really any kid’s movies on this list.  Well, of course when Evelyn gets older we will watch all the classics like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas, but I haven’t really watched those since I was a kid and I will be watching them for many years to come, I’m sure.  So for now, I’ll stick to my favorites.  Which holiday movies make the top of your list?

birthday traditions

When I found out I was pregnant, I felt nothing but pure joy.  But when the initial shock passed and I had a moment to sit back and consider my due date, I have to admit I felt a bit of disappointment.  December.  My baby would be born in December and would forever have to share her birthday with the granddaddy of all holidays.  I couldn’t think of a worse time of year to have a birthday.  All the two-for-one gifts, the unattended (or non-existent) birthday parties, and just getting lost in the shadow of a fat, bearded man.

Our little Christmas present.

So, I began thinking and Michael and I began talking about how we can create some birthday traditions for our daughter that will set it aside from the bustling holiday madness.  Michael likes to think big.  He suggested taking some big family trip every year to mark her special day.  I can definitely appreciate his enthusiasm, but I was thinking something smaller, simpler, yet special.  Besides, traveling during the holiday rush and putting an additional strain on our wallets seems like a great way to turn me into a raving, stressed-out mad person.  So here are just a few of the ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Birthday Gift Hide and Seek:  Leave little clues on notes throughout the house and the birthday girl will have to follow the directions on each note to find the next note and, eventually, her  birthday present.
  • On the Day You Were Born:  Recount the story of the day she was born.  Include pictures!
  • Yearbook:  I am actually working on this one now and it could easily go along with the last idea.  I’m creating a book of her first year at shutterfly.com and at the end of the year, I will order it and have it sent to our doorstep.  This could be read every year on her birthday or I could create a new one each year to celebrate that year’s highlights.
  • Special meal or treat:  Let her choose her favorite restaurant, meal at home, or special treat to accompany either one.
  • Balloons!:  I have been seeing this on Pinterest a lot lately…fill her room with balloons or barricading the door with balloons while she sleeps, so that she’s surprised when she wakes up in the morning.
  • 20 Questions:  Interview her each year with the same 20 question and see how their answers change.  This could be included as part of the yearbook mentioned above or videotaped.

And I have a confession to make.  At first, I was completely against the idea of incorporating anything Christmas-y into her birthday, but the more I think about it, it might be fun to make her birthday celebration part of choosing the Christmas tree.  Her birthday is on the 14th, so I’m envisioning a weekend of going out to choose a tree, decorating it, hot cocoa, Christmas movies, maybe a trip to the ice skating rink, and a special meal just for the birthday girl.

Of course, Evelyn is only 8 months old and I have at least a few years to try to figure this out.  Right now, I’m completely fixed on planning her first birthday party (more on this later).  But I’m wondering, what are your special birthday traditions?  How do you make your child’s birthday special?