It’s such a strange transition to go from being the child during Christmas, to being the parent. It feels like a lot of pressure! Meredith is two and a half now, and I feel like this is our last “practice” year before she will really start caring about and remembering everything. Her first Christmas she was only five months old, and last year she had a pretty bad case of roseola so was down for the count, poor girl.
This year she is two and a half. She likes all the decorations, and if you ask her what she wants for Christmas she will say “candy.” But I still don’t think she really understands anything. So I’ve been trying to figure out how we are going to “do” Christmas in the future: the traditions we will have as a family, how we will handle the whole Santa situation, our gifting philosophy, and the scheduling of everything. I have some pretty good ideas and want to share them, but I’d really like to hear your family plans as well.
I love traditions, and I love holiday activities, but I am also a working mom and I like to keep expectations realistic. Apart from the traditions I have going with my parents (shopping with my dad and the Messiah with my mom, as well as having pigs in a blanket on Christmas morning) and for myself (like a holiday minibook) there are a few more that I’d like to add for our own little family.
>Christmas cards. I didn’t do any last year or this year, but I’d really like to start them up again next year.
>A drive to see lights in the fancy neighborhood in town. Preferably with hot chocolate in hand. We have plans to do this on Christmas Eve and I hope Meredith cooperates!
>Advent calendar. Nothing with daily activities or anything, but just something visible to mark the counting down, maybe with a Bible verse to read along with it. I have the calendar, but eventually I need to add the stuff to put inside. Maybe some ornaments to add to a special Advent mini tree, or a Christmas scene to build as we go.
>New PJ’s for Christmas Eve (for the kids). I think I’m going to start this this year, but they might be hand-me-downs. She won’t know the difference. :)
That’s about it. There are other activities that I’m sure we will do year to year, but I want just those few things to remain constant.
I found out that Santa wasn’t real so early on in my life that I don’t even remember it. I don’t know how or why my parents decided to handle it the way they did (I should ask them!) but I know that I always knew the gifts were from them, even when “Santa” was written on the label. Christmas was still a magical time for me. (I also got in pretty big trouble on occasion for spoiling the secret for other kids. ) My husband is a sensitive soul and he remembers being shocked and even feeling a little betrayed when he found out at an older age.
My thoughts on the matter are that Santa is a fun character, but I definitely don’t want him (and all the presents) to be the focus of the season. Right now I am thinking that we won’t really bring up Santa in conversation a lot and won’t use him as a threat for good behavior, but we won’t deny that he is real. Instead, when they are old enough to ask, we will tell our kids that there is a secret to Santa, and when they find out the truth it will all come clear.
We like gifts at Christmas. We aren’t big on them throughout the rest of the year so it’s fun for us to look forward to. But we are also on a tight budget and want to make sure the gifts that are given are special, so I don’t want to go overboard. The kid(s) will get gifts from all the aunts/uncles/grandparents too so it’s already a lot. So far we haven’t done much for Meredith ourselves (except for every birthday and Christmas I have gotten her a classic book and written a note inside, and that’s something I will continue) but this year we are getting her a few things: a dress from an Instagram pop-up shop, another book, and some more kitchen play toys (these and these). I also know for sure that she’s getting a new doll and stroller from her Mimi. I specifically requested these gifts for her to help prepare for the new baby. This is also the first year that she’ll have her own stocking gifts. For some reason I am super excited about this especially. I plan to fill it with things like this: m&m candy cane, band-aids, toddler-appropriate makeup like lip smackers, underwear, socks, stickers, stamps, crayons, matchbox car, cup, small flashlight, and play-doh. Hopefully the dollar store can help me out with most of this.
Going forward with our whole gifting philosophy, I want to try and keep it simple. David and I usually just get each other 1-2 things, or we decide together on a big gift (like this year we both upgraded our phones and called it good). I like the four gift rule: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. And then on top of that I’m considering doing one “Santa” gift as well.
Every year is going to be different for us as far as scheduling because we have to coordinate with several different families and in-laws, and take work into consideration. This year I only get Christmas Day off. On Christmas Eve we are all going to services at my brother’s church (ours doesn’t have one) at 6pm and it is going to be a rush for me to get there in time so I’m going to plan to meet them there in case I can’t leave early. On Christmas morning everyone from my family is coming to our house, but my married brother won’t make it until around noon so we plan to hang out and eat a nice breakfast and then once he and his wife arrive we’ll do our stockings and gifts. Then in the late afternoon we will be heading to my husband’s family gathering for dinner and gifts.
That’s it! It’s a busy week ahead (I pray every day for energy to make it through) but I am grateful that we don’t have to travel and that everything is working out so far. Like I said at the beginning of this, I’d really like to hear about how you handle Christmas with your family! How do you keep the focus on the right thing, balance all the activities, and not get overwhelmed?