Embracing the Holiday Spirit

This is a very busy time of year for our family. We celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah (or as we call it, Christmukah), along with Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s also typically a very fun time of year: the sights, the sounds, the warmth, the joy. And when you become a parent, the festivities become even more important as you watch them through your children’s curious, innocent eyes. You see the magic that they see.

Yet this year I have had a hard time getting into the spirit of things. Perhaps it has been because I am feeling so tired and drained, thanks to eight stubborn molars that are just now finally breaking through. Perhaps it has been because I have two toddlers who have entered the Terrible Two’s a bit early, complete with plenty of “no” and “mine” to boot. Add to that a 3-year-old who thinks he knows everything, and I spend more of my days refereeing than mothering… Sometimes I think the little day-to-day frustrations can easily get in the way of the big picture.

It is our family’s tradition to spend the long Thanksgiving weekend putting up our Christmas tree and other decorations. Last year Connor was old enough to hang a few ornaments, and Benjamin and Alexander were able to help from the comfort of Mommy and Daddy’s arms. More importantly, the twins were not yet old enough to crawl, so the tree was relatively safe from harm. Connor knew the rules to stay away; the immobile babies didn’t have a choice. This year, everything is fair game to my precocious little boys. Ornaments look like toys, and anything within reach is literally up for grabs. We quickly realized during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend that the tree would never get trimmed while the boys were awake. They were into everything. Even when we convinced them to hang an ornament on the tree, they wanted to pull it right back down and play with it. And poor Connor was trying his best to follow the rules and trim the tree properly, but his brothers want to do whatever he does, so it got to a point where we couldn’t let him decorate anymore because it was causing two small meltdowns. Ah, screaming children, that feels like the holidays, doesn’t it?!?

The rest of the decorating fell to Mommy and Daddy, to be done after bedtime each night, time permitting. That being said, we finally finished trimming the tree last night, 10 days after we started. And the bottom 2.5 ft. are completely bare, to avoid having ornaments pulled off and destroyed by wandering hands. I found the time and energy to put the outside lights on the porch a few nights ago. It was 8 degrees outside, but I had the free time and energy, so I went for it. It wasn’t terribly fun, but I do love to see the lights. Now that the decorating is complete, I am feeling a little more festive. DSC_0001

I know the holidays are not about trees and lights and presents. They are about family, togetherness, and giving thanks for our many blessings. But it doesn’t hurt to have the beautiful, physical reminders to jog your memory about the spirit of the season during an otherwise long and chaotic day.

I guess the moral of this story is that, as in all things parenting, you need to set your expectations aside and go with the flow. I was feeling rather sad when we couldn’t seem to get our decorating done as a family, I had hoped to continue that tradition with the kids this year. But those down feelings were erased the second I saw the kids’ eyes light up as we lit up the finished tree. They don’t care how it got decorated, they just love to look at it. So I shouldn’t care how it got decorated, or how tedious it was. I should just enjoy the fact that I can sit in my warm, cozy home on these cold winter nights, and enjoy the beauty of the season with my beautiful boys.

And maybe next year we will try to let them trim the tree again…. maybe. DSC_0002

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