Really, kids are the fun of Christmas. All those toys and smiles and that just-can't-wait excitement are some of the best parts of the holiday season.
Yesterday, I proved this with a phone conversation my 5-year-old nephew and I had:
Him: Can I get a hamster for Christmas? Me: I'm not sure. You'll have to ask your mom and dad. Him: Yeah (sigh). I asked my mom, and she said no. I asked my dad, and he said no. Me: Maybe when you're a bit older you can get a hamster. Him: Yeah! If the dogs and the kitty die, maybe I can get a hamster. Me: We really shouldn't hurt our pets. Him: Maybe if my little brother lets the plug out of the fish tank so the fish are in the air and can't breathe? Me: There is no plug in the fish tank, and remember, we shouldn't hurt our pets. Him: My little brother doesn't know any better. Me: Is the hamster on your Christmas list? Him: That's a good idea! I'll add it to my list. I put a check mark beside the things I really want, and a star by the things I really want. I'll put a star by it.
Lately I've been contemplating how to make Christmas meaningful and I sort of skipped over Thanksgiving. Hard to believe, since I generally celebrate it twice (once for Canada and once for the States).
Gratitude is a certainly a character quality I want to instill in my son (and myself). Thanksgiving traditions should help me be purposeful about doing so. Here are a couple ideas I've run across in the last little while:
Decorate a small box, jar, or similar container (or just purchase a pretty one). Throughout the year, when God's blessings are especially evident, write notes of thankfulness on slips of paper and drop them in the container. On Thanksgiving Day, open the container and read all of the blessings, big and small, that you might have otherwise forgotten: recovery from an illness, a conflict resolved, an extra-special treat, a lovely spring day.
Use a countdown calendarto generate excitement about the special day and learn more about gratitude. Every day leading up to Thanksgiving, write down one thing about which to be grateful, and stick it in the calendar. Gather the notes of appreciation and save them in a scrapbook or box for future years, or simply read them all on Thanksgiving Day.
Really? Already?! It's hard to believe some days that this little guy has been in our lives for a whole six months. At other times, it feels like he's been part of our family forever.
He's sitting up (mostly) on his own and busy, busy, busy. I feel that when he crawls he will take off like a little rocket ship. Even though he hasn't mastered that skill, he is getting pretty good at transporting himself by wiggling to and fro in his ever-urgent quest to grab and put that pretty piece of [fill in the blank with the closest object] in his mouth. The accompanying grunts of effort are priceless.
He also loves to talk in varying pitches, tones, and vowel-consonant combinations. Every so often, we imagine that he's said words. Of course he has no idea what he's saying, but we did catch, "Brrr," "Mom-mom," and "Oh, boy" (the latter was the cutest yet).
His final adventure is eating. Perhaps it's more of an adventure for me as I play: "Let's figure out what you like to eat." So far, he just says no to rice and oatmeal cereals (although he does eat some of it begrudgingly). He loves sweet potatoes but sadly he might be allergic.
He's still completely lovable, and his smiles and big eyes melt my heart. Maybe they will forever.
I love Christmas. Part of the reason it's so special to me is that we didn't celebrate it in my family when I was a child. I think it's fun and I'm looking forward to my child (and future children) enjoying holiday traditions.
I'm not a fan of the Christmas craziness, though; in my family and my husband's we have done some things to eliminate a bit of the stress. In his family, we give gifts only to children and to his parents (it's the most fun to watch them anyway) and in my family we do a gift exchange so we only have to purchase one meaningful (but inexpensive) gift for one relative.
I also love to do Christmas shopping very early when I find coupons or deals to cut the cost on gifts, and before the malls are madhouses. And shopping online reduces the hassle further. I love free shipping sales (!), or buying all my gifts at once on certain sites that offer free shipping for spending a certain amount.
With Christmas stress out of the way (well, mostly at least!), I am in search of meaningful holiday traditions. I bought an advent calendar to use with our son, but I'd love more ideas to make the season extra special.
Would you share yours? Please leave a comment about your traditions and ideas. Thanks so much!