When you have a small child, everyone warns you how quickly time seems to fly by. "Enjoy it," they tell you, "it goes fast;" "Don't blink, or you'll miss it;" "Savor every minute." (Does anyone else think "my kid is not a rare steak," every time the word "savor" comes up? No? Just me?) Like many new-ish moms, I'm starting to recognize firsthand just how right everyone was when they said these things (not unlike how right they were when they said that breastfeeding is hard), even if they were annoying to hear so often. Like most obnoxious clichés, they're said so often for a reason.
In keeping with the truth of how quickly childhood flies by, my son's second Christmas, just a few days ago, snuck up on me faster than someone swinging a light saber (is that an appropriate reference? I still haven't seen The Star Wars). Despite how speedily it approached, I think we were mostly ready: The house was decorated, gifts were ~almost~ done on time, and Santa pictures were taken weeks beforehand (they turned out horribly, but they were taken nonetheless).
That said, Christmas with my kid was not all smooth sailing. There were definitely some failures, too: I totally botched a batch of treats I intended to give the neighbors, and have yet to make a replacement; I had to abandon some homemade gifts because they ended up being way more time consuming than I'd anticipated; My first attempt to get my son to fingerpaint (so I could use the prints for present projects) pretty much exploded in my face (or rather, on the carpet).
This year, like most years, our holidays have been a series of ups and downs punctuated by cozy sweaters, hot beverages, and glossy holiday album covers. Now that December 25 has come and gone, and we're sitting in the sweet, suspended last nook of the holidays before New Year's Eve, I've had a chance to process and absorb just what this means for my parenting, and I've come up with a few key lessons I hope to instill on my son as he grows.
ALL The Cliches
OK, first things first: I fully intend to teach my kid about family and traditions, to share elements of faith that I believe in, to show him that giving is better than receiving, and to discuss the ways that we are hashtag blessed. Perhaps these are ambitious goals, but seeing as he's not yet old enough for most of these concepts, I can hold onto the hope that I'll be able to manage.
It's Not About The Benjamins
Along with the idea of valuing the giving of gifts over receiving them comes the idea that the dollar amount of gifts doesn't matter. He's still at the age where cardboard boxes are just as exciting as battery-operated trains and light-up screens, but I know that won't always be the case. For the time being, my partner and I are trying to keep our gifting in check, and the plan is to keep doing so even as he begins to understand it (wish us luck).
Sugar Is A Powerful Substance We Must Revere And Respect
We are just starting to share sweets with our toddler, and the best way I can describe his response is "bonkers." (OK, I could think of more colorful and fitting language with which to describe his response, but I'll keep it PG.) I want him to him to be able to enjoy treats but not lose his mind every time the plate of cookies comes out. I know it's going to be years (decades?) before he can judge for himself, but in the meantime a girl can dream.
The Glory Of Holiday Sweaters
Yes, I know they can be kitschy. Yes, I know they can cheesy. But themed sweaters can also be fun and cheerful and a super-silly to literally wear your holiday spirit on your sleeve. I say we embrace it. YOLO.
Fake Trees Are OK
Because sometimes we all need to do what's easier and what's best for our family. And if that means trading a Saturday afternoon of exhausting ourselves by tromping through wet snow and looking at dozens, if not hundreds, of trees that look nearly identical for an afternoon of staying warm, listening to Christmas carols, and drinking festive beverages while we unearth our decor from the basement, so be it. I know there can be strong opinions about fake trees, but I am 100% glad to have one while my son is small. Perhaps when he's older, we'll want to make the effort, but right now? Ease and convenience FTW.
Sometimes We Have To Wait In Line To See Santa
Would I have preferred that we walk right up to the big guy? Absolutely. This most likely would have prevented the meltdown that started 90 seconds before our turn came, which was likely due to the fact we'd been in line for over thirty minutes. That said, I also need my son to know that what we want to happen isn't always what actually happens, so I was OK with the wait.
(Also, I learned that the weekend after Thanksgiving is just not the time to do the mall Santa thing. Just no.)
It Really IS The Thought That Counts
All things considered, if this list of lessons turns out to be too tall of an order, I would like nothing more than my son to see that the holidays are a perfect time to practice compassion.
Last But Not Least: Don't Misbehave, Or Else Your Dad And I Will Go To France Without You
Kidding! I'm totally kidding!
(It's London that we're dying to see.)
Images: Abigail Batchelder/Flickr; Giphy(9)