I had some holiday kidbits I wanted to memorialize before they were forgotten, so though it’s well into January and the holidays are a distant memory for some, we’re still in the mindset that it’s “Christmas every day,” as my daughter likes to exclaim. We’re still listening to Christmas music, though on Christmas Eve when I asked my daughter if we should play Christmas music, she said, “nope, not today.” In the wake of the holidays, after the reveling and busyness died down and I had time to reflect, I noticed that over the holidays my children were excited and fascinated by things I’d typically call trash. The big gestures, the big gifts, the grandness of the holidays certainly didn’t go unnoticed, but they were equally content and excited by small things that often register as insignificant. After spending time, money, and brainpower on the big stuff, it’s a nice reminder to my future self that the monetary and face value of an item often means very little to young kids. Sometimes spending less money, less time, and less energy counts for more. [This is the second post in a three-part series-first part here, third part here]
We put up a three-foot-tall fake Christmas tree. I bought it long ago, long before the kids. We never intended to use the tree as our main Christmas tree, but for the last couple of years, it’s the only tree that we decorate. It sits on a side table with a tree skirt wrapped around the base, fully enclosed by a baby gate, protected from little hands. (Amen) My toddler, Kacya, decorated the tree this year. Unfortunately, the two ornaments she made in preschool never survived the day- she accidentally stepped on one and smashed it to smithereens within ten minutes of bringing it home. The other, a ping pong ball snowman with a cute yarn winter hat, received an unfortunate dunking into cold leftover cocoa at the hands of the baby. Kacya hung ornaments, drawstring bags that held the ornaments, and thirty candy canes. She spent hours rearranging ornaments and “decorated” the candy canes right off the tree and into her mouth.
My daughter grabs a candy cane from the tree.
“Don’t eat the whole thing,” I say.
“I’m just licking the whole thing,” she responds.
Kacya turns to me and says, “Look, my candy cane has a booger on it.” (sick kids are so gross!)
Kacya takes candy away from her younger sister. She explains:
“This not for you. You a baby. Momma and people eat this. I’m a people.”
Kacya couldn’t have been more thrilled with the tree, probably even more so because of its size. Though we saw lots of big trees and fancy decorations throughout the holiday season, our three-foot-tall tree stole her heart. In early January, I tackled the holiday decorations and put the tree away. In the midst of a lingering illness, I was infinitely thankful that we had a small tree and few decorations to pack away. Putting away so little made my life so much easier. Tiny tree, I heart you.
An elf appeared this holiday season. We had holiday books, movies, and ornaments that we wanted the kids to enjoy before Christmas so we employed the elf. I hesitated to use the elf as a gift-giving medium, seeing as it went counter to my desire to not focus on toys and treats, but I also wanted to read the holiday books and get into the holiday spirit, plus we already had an elf from the year prior that was packed away and never used. We left (bad) poems and notes from the elf:
Thanks for letting us stay
and to play.
Here’s an ornament for your tree.
Kacya gave the elf a name: “Azra, no I mean Kickatoot.” We did not read the story associated with the elf nor did he do silly things at night. (I like the silly things but we never got around to doing them.) Elf Kickatoot appeared, left gifts, they played with him throughout the day, and often he was forgotten for days on end. We didn’t want Elf Kickatoot to give lots of gifts so we spaced out his arrivals and would surprise them with the gifts. Kacya, however, started finding gifts from Elf Kickatoot. She’d run into the room shouting, “the elf left this!” Then she would excitedly show me what he left: a crumpled up envelope with a Christmas stamp on it, a sparkle that fell off an ornament, a sticker, a hair binder, a tiny piece of wrapping paper, and other seemingly insignificant things that she was so excited to find. She liked the element of surprise, the gesture, the spirit of the gift-giving much more than the gifts themselves.
My kids received an abundance of awesome toys. A special thanks to everyone who gave them such wonderful things! They are slowly working their way through the toys and having a blast. I’m always amazed, however, at how little it takes to entertain them. They seem to have just as much fun playing with toy detritus as the toys themselves. They spend hours climbing in and out of boxes. They put boxes on their heads and pretend to be spaceships or they climb into boxes and pretend to be in spaceships. With illness in the house it took us longer to deal with boxes and packaging, the things we’d normally recycle immediately. But my kids couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t mind a couple days of sloshing through toy boxes if it meant my kids were entertained with so little. It was all fun and games until my youngest put a box on her head that was filled with tiny electrostatic balls of packing material that very quickly migrated around the house. In the end, the toys were also greatly appreciated. My toddler’s letter to Santa, read aloud to me: “Thank you to come to our house. Thank you to giving me some socks. Thank you to bringing me some more toys. Thank you to giving me a yots and yots of toys. I love you so much.”
“You can’t play with both toys,” I tell my toddler, hoping she might share.
“Yes, I do can,” she responds.
My three-year-old received a camera for her birthday, loved it for a couple of days, and then it broke. Her Christmas list included “a blue doggie and a black doggie, a Christmas star to put on the tree, and a new camera….for Kyva” [her younger sister]. This sounds altruistic and sweet but since she claims all of her sister’s toys, it’s also a little sneaky. We’ll have to watch her…