Scrooge, Interrupted

Christmas is not my favorite holiday. Once the calendar flips to December, and many years even before then, my sister and I break out the Excel spreadsheet and across the 3,000 miles that separate us plot and plan and purchase gifts for a long list of relatives. All efforts to scale back and de-commercialize the holiday have pretty much failed, so I've just accepted it (and the large credit card statement that arrives in January) for what it is.

That said, the holiday season in an awesome time to be a parent (as opposed to the other 11 months of the year). I kid. Sort of.

Isabella has begun to understand bits of Christmas, and it's very cool to watch her experience the magic of this time of year, especially since I'm usually so disillusioned and stressed out by it.

This year, the fun began for Isabella on December 1st. Last year, I picked up a wooden Advent calendar with little doors for each day of Advent. Every night, I hide a small treat behind the next day's door. Every morning, the first thing Isabella says to me is, "I wonder what's in my calendar." She races to the kitchen and is thrilled with the idea of opening that day's door to find some stickers, a small container of Playdoh, or two M&Ms (which she pronounces "lemons"). Her most favorite Advent calendar gift was her very own bell to wear around her neck. (Ever since we've shown her parts of The Polar Express, she's become obsessed with them.)

Next, we went to pick out the tree. She scurried around the tree lot searching for birds hidden under the trees. Yeah, I don't understand that one either.

The tree became even more interesting to her once we put it up and decorated it.

Last weekend, my mom was in town and watched the twins while we took Isabella to a local garden store that puts on a huge holiday fair each year, complete with rides, games, food, and of course, Santa, of whom Isabella was terrified and would not get near...until he decided to leave his chair, walk amongst the kids waiting for their lap time with him, and waltz with her very surprised great-grandmother while singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

Since she loves trains, I thought Isabella would jump at the chance to ride the toddler train at the garden store. Turns out, she only wanted to ride if mommy rode with her. The sign read "Children Only." I had to slip the high school kid a ten-dollar bill to experience the pleasure of cramming my not-even-close-to-its-pre-pregnancy-size arse into a seat the size of a postage stamp so my daughter wouldn't start tearing out her hair and frothing at the mouth.

Once the train started, she cried the entire length of the ride anyway.

I got her back for that little embarrassment, because Christmas is also a great time to force kids to do things solely for the entertainment of their parents.

10 minutes in the bouncy house made it all better, though.

Then, on Sunday, while the hubs proceeded to lose in all 1,104 fantasy football leagues he participates in, Isabella and I decorated cookies. In years past, we've both made and decorated cutout cookies. But, given the fact that this year I'm nursing 23 out of every 24 hours, my lovely aunt, she of the 3,000 annual Christmas cookies, made the cookies for me, and Isabella went to town decorating them.

Decorating cookies with frosting and sprinkles is fun...

...but licking several gallons of frosting off the mini spatula is even better.

Wilton School of Confectionery Art, here she comes.

I'm always relieved when January arrives, and the utter insanity of celebrating the holidays in a huge family in over. But, there's something special about watching little ones, who aren't yet jaded and cynical, whose perceptions about Christmas aren't yet colored by crowds, traffic, and gift-buying stress, experience the joy and excitement so many of us have lost since our own childhoods.

And I'll hope that just maybe, a little bit of it rubs off on me in the process.

14 Responses to “Scrooge, Interrupted”

  1. # Blogger Jesser

    For not liking it too much you're sure doing it up right! Looks like a lot of fun and I love that photo of Isabella with the trees. So cute! There's something about them all bundled up in their snowsuits. ;)

    I know what you mean about Christmas. We've always really enjoyed it in our family and had a great time with it ... some to do with presents, but not hugely ... more about cooking together and playing games and hanging out. But after we got married I went through a huge adjustment period with my inlaws ... they just don't seem to see Christmas in the same way our family does (much focus on gifts, how much is spent, tearing them open super fast, etc.) and I really didn't enjoy a couple of those Christmases ... but of course seeing the magic through Tabby's eyes has changed it back for me at least mostly and I have learned better how to say "Screw it! It's your problem, and your unreasonable expectation, not mine!" But of course I'm sending off three packages tomorrow. :P  

  2. # Anonymous Kris

    I haven't been brave enough to let Brody decorate cookies... but Thursday we're trying it with my mom & grandma. I hope he does as well as Isabella!

    So... I'm on a major quest to find stockings- and I LOVE yours! Are they bought or homemade? And if they came from a store, which one? =)  

  3. # Anonymous Ness

    Oh I *love* your christmas stockings. I always say I'm going to make some, and then I always never do. BTW your household sounds *way* more organised than mine right now - seriously.  

  4. # Blogger Mom24

    Those stocking are amazing! So, so beautiful. I loved seeing all your traditions. I need to get on the ball around here! You've inspired me.

    See? One day you can look back on this post and know that life was still going on even during these crazy, zany days.  

  5. # Blogger Marie

    I'm impressed Kristi! I completely hear you on having the influence of a child in the house. Frankly it all feels like one big hassle to me, but watching K put ornaments on our tree the other day did help to melt this Grinch's heart a little.

    Glad to see they had a better Santa at GF this year. We had a bad experience there 2 years ago!  

  6. # Anonymous Veronica

    Awwww.... you're doing great!

    I'm in the Christmas cookie (first time ever) mood, so I might spend a few days making those for my friends and family.  

  7. # Anonymous Veronica

    Awwww.... you're doing great!

    I'm in the Christmas cookie (first time ever) mood, so I might spend a few days making those for my friends and family.  

  8. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    Those pictures are great! It looks like Isabella had a wonderful time. Little Elvis is scared of Santa as well.  

  9. # Anonymous Laura McIntyre

    It looks like you are all getting in to the Christmas spirit this year and your managing to find the time for some mother and daughter activities.

    Hope the holidays are great for you  

  10. # Anonymous Dianne S

    Love the picture of the stockings. Who would have thought all those stockings would be hanging this year.

    But, my FAVORITE is you on the train. Did you swear the entire ride or just part way through? :))  

  11. # Blogger Tracey

    That was a cute post. Loved the pictures. Especially the stockings... Quite the brood you've acquired, my dear!

    Hope you have a great night's sleep tonight. No wish could be more sweetly received, I'm sure.


  12. # Blogger MIP

    So many great pictures, and don't you just love those public moments of embarrassment. Sounds like you are managing to have some great moments this holiday season.  

  13. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    Similarity #587...we have the same Christmas stockings. Hello, Pottery Barn....except I only got that kind for the kids (Jason and I have a different kind) and ours are the blue version instead of the red.  

  14. # Blogger Damselfly

    Oh, I love all the Christmas pictures! Especially the one of Isabella's face peeking out of the wooden snowman. Heh heh! She and Fly could play together with trains and bells all day.

    I think Fly has the same stocking that your husband does!  

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