Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is for Kids; Christmas Eve is for Us.

I don't know about everyone else, but having a toddler this time of year is exciting. Last year, he really couldn't open presents and wasn't all that interested in their contents anyway. We set up his set of alphabet peek-a-blocks and a blow up bobbing penguin thing and he spent maybe ten minutes playing with them. And almost never touched the blocks again. He is terrified of the penguin even when you turn off the sounds. But at 6 months old, we had no real idea of what he would like.
This year, I expect playing Santa to be much more fun.
We are going to help him put out a cookie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer, explaining to him again how the whole thing works. I assume he will promptly forget, sleep like a baby for the last time on Christmas Eve until he outgrows Santa, and wake up in the morning to see his brand new Little People Farm set and a stocking full of fun little toys and goodies. But, sadly, because of some recent over indulgences and the resulting refusal to eat anything and demands for cookies and candies, he won't be getting any candy. A clementine and goldfish crackers will have to do. We have some great little stocking stuffers I know he will love.
But the fun part for me isn't necessarily the Christmas morning.
Christmas morning is for the kids.
But Christmas Eve is for the adults. For the next however many years until our last little one ceases to be impressed by the fanfare of a nocturnal visit from a fat man in red with a hankering for cookies, Kenny and I get to play the best role any parents can ever play. We get to be Santa. Santa is purely fun. You don't have to give timeout or say no to another cookie. You just do something fun with no strings.
We can sip something cheery, munch on gourmet gift basket fare, and yell at the kids to get back in bed or Santa won't come. We'll stay up late, even though we are guaranteed to be roused early by footy-pajama-clad children. We'll stuff stockings with small, thoughtful gifts and a couple of fun snacks, maybe a little candy. We'll do silly things like use reindeer-hoof shaped kitchen sponges to make muddy paw prints all over the kitchen floor. We'll argue about who gets to eat the cookie and who has to eat the carrot. We'll drink Santa's hot cocoa and giggle like children on Christmas. Because for parents, the best part isn't being a kid on Christmas anymore. It's watching your own kids be kids. We'll be sure to take our time Christmas morning so that everyone takes time to appreciate their gifts, play with their new toys, and have a good time together as a family. But Christmas Eve, we get to be a couple. We're in it together, for better or worse, and Christmas Eve is one of those betters that make the worse not quite so bad.
There may be years when Christmas has to be really creative. There will be times when one child or another will throw a tantrum or get overwhelmed and the whole day will be trying. But no matter what, my husband is the person I want beside me while we navigate the difficult times, and the person I want beside me for the happiest times. And I just can't imagine playing Santa without him beside me for that, too.
I love you, SMcC-B.

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