Our son is almost two now, so this Christmas is already shaping up to be really fun. The lights and music are way up his alley. He keeps pointing to the Cars movie-themed wrapping paper I’m using and saying, “car, car, car.” Santa freaks him out, but he loves walking through the local park to see the huge lights display. Now we get dancing and heart-melting grins along with every new experience.
Last year, Carson stared at the lights, but he couldn’t figure out how to unwrap a present. This year, I’m pretty sure Carson will want to open everybody’s presents. That’s why the presents are on a table instead of under the tree.
The Tree Debate
One debate we had: tree or no tree. Last year, we had a small tabletop tree. We figured that between our son, a Sheltie, and a hound, the tree would not be in one piece before the countdown was over on the advent calendar.
I brought Carson over to my mom’s house last week, and she already had a little tree up near her fireplace. Carson pointed, danced around, and spoke all kinds of excited jibberish about the little tree – and he managed to not touch it the whole time.
So, mommy gave in, and we decided to get an artificial tree. We chose artificial because we felt like it would be too tempting to have a bucket full of rocks and water at the bottom of a real tree. We do have a toddler and two dogs, after all.
I’m so glad we decided to put up the tree. It looks beautiful. The Sheltie naps on the tree skirt; the hound ignores it, and Carson looks at it throughout the day. He does try to pull some of the ornaments off the tree, but telling him “no” usually makes him stop, even if I’m across the room. I am pleasantly amazed.
Of course, we still have 15 days to go.
How I Mildly Toddler-Proofed the Tree
I’ve decided to decorate the tree with ornaments that won’t break just in case. I also used strong thread instead of metal hooks to hang the ornaments. I have an adorable plush fox couple from Cracker Barrel on the tree, and I’ve also made homemade ornaments using pages from a thrifted Jane Austen novel and Mod Podge. On each ornament, I’ve glued a silhouette. The silhouettes include a beagle, a Sheltie, the manger scene, birds, tea cups, a train because Carson loves trains, and deer heads that look very “now.”
Thinking About Family Traditions
Last year, our son was small enough that I wasn’t thinking about family traditions yet. This year, it suddenly hit me: it’s time to think about all of it — the tree, which cookies I will bake, which places and experiences will create memories for him. Before Carson, my husband and I had a few Christmas traditions, but we were pretty minimalist other than a few basic decorations, walking through the park, visiting family, and going to a Christmas service at church.
Now I think back to my own childhood memories of Christmas. My mom did the whole she-bang. We had a manger scene and a train under the tree. She baked tons of cookies, and our house was full of lights. My brother and I had parts to say in the Christmas church service. We had family get-togethers. Being young, I thought all of that just “came together.”
Now I see what a role a mommy plays in all of it. It makes me excited.
I put Carson up in his high chair and play him the few Christmas songs that I have learned on my guitar. In the Sunday School class I’m teaching for two and three year olds, I’ve also played the songs while the kids clapped along, and I found a really neat app for my Kindle that lets the kids create a manger scene. The class was enthralled! They’re young, but I hope I can help make some memories for them too.
Making a Spiritual Tradition
Part of my enthusiasm this year also has a lot to do with the fact that I started spiritually preparing for the holidays over Thanksgiving week. I read The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs, and it gave me a much more in-depth view of the Christian perspective of Christmas than I’d had before. The author focuses on the women’s point of view in the story of Christmas while maintaining historical and biblical accuracy. By the end of the book, I was filled with joy. You will probably feel the same way if you read it! It will make you feel like you’re there beside Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna as they experience the miracle. I am so glad that I got the chance to read this book.
Rather than retell you what I read, I encourage you to visit the author’s site at http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/ and try to get your hands on the book. Liz Curtis Higgs tells the Christmas story with such eloquence. You can find some of her blog posts about Christmas as it relates to Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna here: http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/category/the-women-of-christmas/.
If you have time to read just one good post from her blog, I think this is a good one. http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/the-women-of-christmas-the-virgin-mother-kind/
Originally, I had planned on blogging about all of the “ah-ha” moments, but I decided that I just want to cherish those thoughts in my own mind and not let my thoughts get in the way of what you might discover yourself as you seek Christ this season.
If you do read the book, go back and read the Bible passage of the Christmas story as well. You will be amazed at the new connections you’ll make.
Or, even if you do none of the above, I hope you’ll read the Christmas story directly from The Bible in the gospel of Luke. I will admit that it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of festivities. That’s why it really helped for me to read the book and Bible passage in late November.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? How do you spiritually prepare for Christmas?
Hope you are doing well, my friend. As 2014 draws to a close, I just wanted to thank you for reading my blog this year. I hope I was able to encourage you, make you think, or give you a “me too” moment. Even as it seems like people are less likely to look into a stranger’s eyes nowadays, thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully read. The words on this blog are my way of “looking into your eyes” and speaking kindness into your life. Through this, we connect.