I put a winter hat on my three-year-old this morning and she exclaimed, “I’m ready to Christmas!” I agree. We have young, impressionable children so I will freely and joyfully celebrate each and every holiday big and small, and even make some up along the way, such as our 91-monthiversary. With such young kids, we’re still in the creation stage of our family traditions, which makes this time of year tons of fun and a little stressful. When I see their excitement at seeing the holiday displays in our neighborhood it inspires me to make this time of year as magical as possible, and I have adopted a “more the merrier” strategy when it comes to traditions. I figure we’ll bombard them with lots of fun family stuff and then see which of the fun stuff sticks and turns into a tradition in later years. We’re also navigating the compromises we must make to celebrate our childhood traditions. For instance, my family opens gifts on Christmas Eve whereas his family opens them on Christmas Day, so these last couple of years we’ve opened gifts on both days, and I’m sure the kiddos don’t mind this particular melding of traditions, and it certainly fits with the more the merrier attitude I’ve adopted this year, though we’re not going crazy on the gift-buying. There’s still a lot up in the air (when should we put our tree up? what cookies should we bake? What meals to serve? Should we do Elf on the Shelf?), but in the meantime, we’re in full-force holiday mode over here and loving it.
Music: With Christmas around the corner, we’re singing up a storm and have been for over a month. We’re listening to a Christmas channel on Pandora as I type, a channel we’ve listened to daily for the last month. It’s fun to see which songs make an impression. Lately, she’s gotten a little trigger happy with the Pandora thumbs up and thumbs down and has thumbs downed “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night” right out of our lives, so the thumbs down is currently on lock-down. Our three-year-old dances around all day singing holiday songs, and I’m enjoying her take on the classics:
“We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new night!”
“Oh, what fun it is to ride in a dubidubiblay.”
“Frosty the Snowman is a very useful guy.”
Books: The kids don’t really know or remember the “big guy in red”so we’ve been reading lots of holiday books and learning about Santa and his elves and the Grinch and talking snowmen. At one of their reading nooks, I’ve filled a basket with holiday books (here’s more) and warm throw blankets and we cuddle and read all about the holidays. It’s a great way to spend some family time.
That Pesky Elf: We bought the Elf on the Shelf last year (two, actually), but he never made an appearance. I don’t like that the elf watches to see whether or not children have been naughty or nice, and I certainly don’t want to give the impression that they will be rewarded with presents for good behavior. And isn’t it hypocritical that the elf spends the night causing mischief (at least ours would, because that part seems fun), yet then he spies on the kiddos to make sure they’re not causing trouble? Despite my dislike of the story, I do like the idea of the kids waking up to see what mischief the elf caused during the night. So we plan to toss the book and make up our own story about a lost elf who misses all the excitement and Christmas spirit of the North Pole so he tries to recreate some of that magic on his nightly escapades, and along the way he can’t help but play with the kids’ toys as he waits for Santa’s arrival. I’m hoping we can emphasize sharing, friendship, and imagination. We’ll see how that goes. Update: I just read about an adventure Santa doll. You fill his backpack with notes about holiday traditions and Christmas activities that you can do with your family. It sounds like a nice alternative to the elf and a great way to make memories.
And The Microphone: Long ago, before we had children, we bought some kitschy Christmas stuff. Last year, the kids fell in love with one item, the microphone, and it’s recently made its return. It’s a karaoke microphone that allows you to sing along to popular Christmas songs in your normal voice or an extremely high-pitched elf voice. You’d think I’d hate the thing by now but I find it obnoxiously cute, and I really enjoy watching the kids play with it, so much in fact that it’s taken a mini vacation to the top shelf of our closet, more for its protection than anything else. The other day, after searching the house for it, our toddler came running into the room, sobbing, “where’s my microwave?” And now I’m hoping the silly microphone lasts enough years to become a family tradition, so maybe I’ll keep it hidden a couple more days, for its protection and all.
Last night, the kiddos opened the first door on their Advent calendars (you can find them for a dollar at Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s!). After excitedly eating her chocolate and noting that there were lots more doors, our toddler yelled, “It’s Christmas everybody!” Yes, it’s coming and we can’t wait!