Yes - I know, I know. I've pretty much mentioned Christmas in at least some context for the last several posts in a row. You're over it. I'm over it. But yet I still can't stop myself. Please forgive me and permit me some more holiday indulgences.
As we approach Sweetie's 5th Christmas Day, I'm learning just how much she "gets" it this year. She "got" it last year in that she knew Santa was coming and would bring presents to her. But this year she seems to understand the broader picture - how Santa operates, where he lives, the elves that help him out and the countdown to all the things we need to do and people we'll see (from family gatherings, to parties with Santa, to her birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).
Still, I asked Sweetie yesterday if she was more excited about Christmas or more excited about her birthday.
I'm more excited about my birthday.
You are?! Yeah.... you're birthday is great!
This morning I asked her again.
Why are you more excited about your birthday than you are about Christmas?
My birthday is Christmas!
No it's not. Your birthday is before Christmas.
The excitement over special days - most specifically birthdays and Christmas - are great memories for me from my own childhood.
Waking up on my birthday just feeling special. Feeling older, knowing that today was my very special day. Going to school where all my friends and teachers would wish me a happy birthday. Coming home to a dinner of my choosing (usually mom's pot roast). Spice cake and presents. Then going to Dairy Queen with my dad in the evening for ice cream. Every year. I was a princess!
Waking up on Christmas morning, scampering to my brothers' bedroom, rousing my parents much earlier than they would have preferred. Anticipating whether or not we'd get our desired gifts from The Big Guy. Waiting on the top stair as my dad went down to make sure Santa remembered to stop at our house. The absolute magic of seeing the mounds of presents stacked under the glistening tree. The transformation of the living room from a pleasantly festive room one day, to a glowing, amazingly magnificent wonderland of Christmas joy the next. Rummaging through our stocking. Awed over the unwrapped gifts Santa himself had left for us. Listening to Christmas songs on the radio and enjoying our day. Pure magic.
I wonder if Sweetie is "there" yet. I think she's probably not, but maybe. Excited for the specific days themselves, yes, but not yet fully able to anticipate everything that will take place. I imagine it will take another year or two for her to see the traditions of our family and to look forward to our own unique customs.
Concerning Christmas - like I said, last year she was excited, but she was still too young to go all day. She grew tired of opening presents. She wanted to move on. She still needed a good nap to recharge her energies and go again. It was overwhelming for her - maybe moreso than exciting, at least after awhile.
This year - I think she'll be able to handle it better. I think she'll be excited to open all her gifts without getting distracted (too much) or needing a chill break. It also may help that we plan to stay at our house for Christmas morning and then go to either my parents' or my brothers' family's house for the afternoon/evening (rather than both of their houses). Having less travel - and therefore less stimulation - should make everything that much more enjoyable and manageable for Sweetie and for us on Christmas Day.
But still - while I'm sure she'll have a fantastic birthday/Christmas week, I'm not sure the true magic of it all that I felt as a child is in her quite yet.
And that's another thing. What about Sweetie's birthday?
Since my own birthday is in May - so removed from Christmas - I wonder just how different everything is/will be for Sweetie. Hubby and I have made a decision to make Sweetie's birthday as completely separate from Christmas as possible. No Christmas-themed birthday parties, no Christmas wrapping paper, no candy canes or Christmas music on her day. The one hold out, though, is the visit to Santa. That will be Sweetie's thing. Every year we'll take her to the mall to see Santa and to have their picture taken together on her birthday.
Admittedly, our parental decision to separate birthday and Christmas is an effort to make sure Sweetie has two distinct sets of memories as she grows. Birthday memories. And Christmas memories. Just like Hubby and I have from our childhoods.
But what will really happen for Sweetie? As she grows, she may very well want to encorporate her birthday into the holiday celebrations. And that will be just fine with us. Whatever she wants to make this time special and meaningful to her is what she'll get.
Will she grow up having memories of the whole holiday season? An entire week, year after year, that includes both her birthday and Christmas? Will it all meld into one memory set for her? Or will she have birthday memories separate from Christmas memories?
Whatever is Sweetie's experience - it's all good. Sure, Hubby and I love having separate memories of our special childhood days. And we will work hard to make sure Sweetie has her own specific memories as she grows.
But if Sweetie rejoices in the fact that her two magical days are so closely connected - so be it. If that's what she comes to love about this time of year - then that is great for her. And we will help to make the days as great and magical as possible.
May you all make wonderful memories this year - and every year - within your own families for all your special days.