He is cute and cuddly and he really likes to help do things like put on his shoes and socks and decorate the Christmas tree. He is terrible at all of these things.
He also likes to throw the Christmas ornaments, eat the tinsel off of the tree, and steal things and hide them in the cabinet of toys for later. He is significantly better at these tasks.
For the most part, he makes my life a lot more difficult. He screams when I buckle him into the car seat, he tried to steal a stranger’s snack at church this morning, and he flings himself on the ground when he doesn’t get his way (say, when I remove a stranger’s snack from his grubby fingers). But he also forces me to look at the world with different, and far more passionate, eyes.
If your Christmas holidays are anything like mine, they involve a ridiculous amount of shuffling and logistics and can seem kind of overwhelming. Figuring out what I’m supposed to send in for class parties, which room parent is supposed to get the money for the teacher gift, and which kid is going to which party feels like one of those logic problems I used to do in school.
You know, like, five girls are named Becky, Kaitlyn, Dylan, Brittany, and Heather. Their favorite colors are red, blue, pink, purple, and green. They each play one instrument, the violin, cello, harmonica, piano, and tuba. Becky hates pink and plays the tuba. No girl plays a stringed instrument and likes a traditionally feminine color. What day does Kaitlyn go to the orthodontist? Or something like that.
Having little people who are thrilled with it all, however, has made me try to slow down and really enjoy the chaos and clutter. On Thanksgiving we went to a local tree lighting and our 5-year-old said, “Mommy, Thanksgiving had a little visitor and it was Christmas!”
How cute is that? So I’ve been trying to welcome our little visitor of lights and cookie exchanges and gingerbread parties and sing-alongs and handmade ornaments and gift buying/wrapping/re-wrapping (Harry crushed three of them while climbing behind the Christmas tree to steal his brother’s ornament) without getting frustrated. It doesn’t always work.
Which brings me back to Jack. On top of the kitchen table.
This is my precious 1-year-old climbing up on our table in order to play with the Fisher Price Little People Nativity set. He picks up the donkey and barks. He picks up the camel and growls. He is also not very good at identifying animal sounds. He has monkey, though, so that should come in handy here in Atlanta.
The third time I found Jack on top of the table stealing wise men and risking the health of his already bonk-prone skull, I had an epiphany.
“Why in the world don’t I move this thing to somewhere lower?”
I’ve started to try to look at our wonderfully tacky Christmas decorations with my children’s eyes, from a point about two feet off the ground. After seeing our house decorated for the first time this year our teenage baby-sitter said, “I like it. It’s whimsical and magical. I bet the kids love it.” And she’s right. They do love it.
They love seeing everyone they know (except Aunt Julie and family–Hi, Aunt Julie!) throughout the month.
They love that I bake things (really, the only time of the year I do that).
They love class parties.
They love giving their teachers gifts (even though I know from my own teaching experience that cash would be better.)
They love to decorate the front porch.
They love to sing Christmas carols.
They love to celebrate.
Underneath the hideous reindeer candy dish, underneath the garishly colored ornaments, right where it can be reached by little fingers. There is a wise man missing. There is a race car, and sometimes a dinosaur, present. The camel can often be found lying pitifully on its side in the middle of the hallway.
Isn’t it beautiful?