My theme for the holiday this year is Embrace Change. I am all for holiday traditions. I have big expectations. So when the whole idea of Christmas filled me with dread, I knew I had to change things. Too much makes for a miserable mama. And I've said before, I don't want their stories of me to include grumpy and tired. I want them to describe me as fun and playful.
So, new traditions.
In the past, tree decorating was an all-day affair. Snacks and treats, a spread of goodies to nibble between hanging ornaments. And hot spiced cider, and eggnog. And Christmas music. And a clean house. Oh, yes, can't bring Christmas into a cluttered house. Then we all put up ornaments together. Until we're done. At the end of the day, empty boxes return to the garage and we sit back, sip eggnog, and enjoy the twinkling lights.
This year? Giovanni and I put the tree together while Anika performed her last Nutcracker show. I cleared the living room. Put away most of the toys (but missed a bunch, too).
Snacks? None. Drinks? None. I miss that eggnog (might need to go to the store tomorrow).
Plan? None. Anika opened the first box she saw as soon as she walked through the door. Ornaments found the tree quickly. I almost wanted to slow down (since I was still clearing toys- where do they all come from?) so I could share stories and make sure nothing was broken. But I didn't. I let her dive into the tree-decorating wild and free. Still wearing her whiskers from the Mouse dance in the Nutcracker.
Ian remembers Christmas. "It's that day when we get toys," he said. He took decorating very seriously for about five ornaments. Then he was done. I loved the reflection of Christmas lights in his eyes in the photo.
Anika found ornaments from (not so) long ago. "Know what I like best about Christmas?" Anika said. "Remembering all of the other Christmases. I remember making this!"
Hmmm, when she was one. Good memory, Anika. But I smiled. "Me, too," I said.
I did light a candle in the holder she gave me when she was two. She was so proud of this little treasure. And I will light candles through December. Calling forth the light. Gentle and powerful and shining away darkness.
Then she found the Santa hats and of course we needed a photo with the Santa hats. But Ian thought wrestling was a much better plan. She is such a patient sister!
I love that his antics don't bother her (most of the time). He scrambled away and she smiled. Sweet girl :)
We convinced him to try again. This time, I asked them to say, "Santa," and I got very big smiles. The party is on!
Then Anika wanted to stage her own photo-shoot. She got her horse that Santa brought her two years ago. She's not too big at all, she says. She found another Santa hat and arranged the whole scene. She even had to wave :)
I love the different heights of their feet- Ian's dangling above the floor while she has to bend pretty far to fit on the horse. I wasn't planning on commemorative photos, so we have a great pajama combination :)
Then we were done. With boxes half-unpacked. The tree decorated right where they could reach, with no ornaments above or below that line. Missing lights in the windows. But we didn't care. We put back the random bits and stacked the boxes against the wall to open again tomorrow. And perhaps we found new traditions. Who says decorating must be done in a day? This way the adventure continues.
And the best part? We had fun. Silly, laughing, good-times fun. Remember-this-day fun.
And that matters more than any rigid traditions :)