As many of you know, at this time last year, I was pregnant with my second child. In a little over 365 days, our family has grown, and therefore, our holiday traditions have continued to develop into that of a family with two young children. This year was the first year that my oldest (who is now two), has fully grasped the concept of Christmas. I still can’t figure out how her brain processes all of the things that happen during the month of December – Jesus, Santa, gifts, Christmas trees, stockings, you get my drift.
While our infant has no concept of the events happening in and around our house, I have had to learn how to concisely word scenarios that involve gifts and Santa. Toddlers pick up on things quick. Everything down to the wrapping paper that I planned to wrap my oldest daughter’s presents in had to be hidden in the event that she might figure out that I was the one who actually bought her presents. There have been several instances where I have accidentally referenced buying something only to self correct and admit that Santa and his elves actually made and wrapped the gift. Does this ever get easier? I feel like once I start to get the hang of keeping up with this lie, my daughter will be old enough to figure out the truth. It is somewhat easy to cover up my mistakes at her age now, but I can only imagine it will get more difficult.
We officially have an “Elf on the Shelf”. My oldest daughter named her Riley. There must be some sort of infatuation with the name. My infant’s middle name is Riley. We named her that because of the fact that she was practically born on Saint Patrick’s Day. Since she came home, my oldest has continued to call her “baby” or “Riley”, rather than Morgan. We are still getting the hang of the Elf. However, we have started a special tradition with the girl’s Christmas sacks. Thank you Pottery Barn Kids. Every Christmas Eve, Santa delivers the girls their Santa bags – personalized and stuffed with their presents. We will never have a tree towered with gifts. Santa drops off their bags. We leave the bags under the tree Christmas night at which point they are returned to Santa for next year. The look on my oldest daughter’s face when she saw this bag – priceless. She still looks at the picture above, points at it and says “Santa”!
While making it through an entire church service is questionable at this point (based on the age of our girls) we made the effort to dress them up on Christmas Eve and take them to a brief mass before spending Christmas Eve at my parent’s house. I have to admit, my husband and I made the mistake of forgetting the diaper bag. No diapers. No toys. No snacks. I have to give them credit based on the circumstances. Our infant became captivated by the echoing sounds that her voice made in the large sanctuary. She couldn’t stop talking. That led to my toddler deciding to chime in, which eventually led to my dad and I taking them for a walk during the sermon. Once we returned, our youngest went to the bathroom, at which point, the smell forced me to take a walk with her to my car where I scrounged up one lone diaper that I was able to take with me to the nearest bathroom. From there it was a mom using her intuition without wipes. I’m sure you can imagine. Maybe you can’t.
Things don’t really get too crazy in our house anymore. As soon as the girls went to bed, we set up our family room to appear that Santa had come to visit. Then we went to bed. We are still able to get by without spending a ton of money, but making it look like Santa overdid it. The girls love Disney (Sheriff Callie, Minnie, Doc McStuffins), any type of kitchen supply (placemats, cups, silverware), balls, stickers and art supplies. The big gift for our youngest was her play toy block (something you might see in a doctor’s office). The big gift for our oldest was her easel (as seen above as well). It took hours to open all of the gifts. Not because we overdid it, but because my two year old fully appreciated each and every present.
Once she ripped the paper off a gift, she wanted to openthe packaging. She wanted to feel, smell and play with each item before moving on to the next. That led to hunger, which led to breakfast and a break in opening. I realize our years of a prolonged opening time will be few and far between, so I am going to relish in the fact that we got to take our time. We broke up the day, and we very much enjoyed having a day of rest. No exercise. No new TV shows. No where to go. This year almost everyone came to us.
My parents are slowly beginning the process of spending more time in my new hometown. As such, they spent Christmas with us this year. Along with my sister who drove down from Virginia.
Our friend, really family member, and now my co-worker, Kelsey, stayed with us during the holiday. I don’t think she fully realizes how much my girls love her. She entered our lives as a sitter for our two year old as I was returning to work full time. When our daughter finally got into full time day care and we told her that we didn’t need her anymore, we were determined to keep her in our daughter’s life. Little did we know that she would end up taking care of my youngest on a regular basis and later on become my co-worker at Flywheel.
Our niece and my sister and brother-in-law also live in Charlotte. They joined us for a Christmas dinner at our house. My oldest daughter admires our niece. Everything that she did, our daughter had to imitate. I guess they say imitation is the most sincere form of flattering. I am happy that they live so close. It will be fun to see their relationship grow as they do.
It seems like it took forever for Christmas to get here, but when it finally did, it was just over too soon. I cherish the memories that the holiday brings. I also use this time to reflect on those that are not with us anymore. Times sure have changed and our family certainly has. In the moment, there were times this year that things just didn’t seem like they were going our way. However, on this day, when I sit back and think about the year in general, I can’t complain. We are growing. We are learning. We are figuring out how to operate as a family of four. At this time, I can’t complain. New year. New expectations. We are ready to take on what the year brings us!