Bearing children brings to mind visions of excited Christmas mornings complete with mugs if hot cocoa, a video camera and maybe some sledding for those of us who live in a state where white Christmases are possible. What we have actually gotten so far was one year where Thing One sat in his bumbo seat and seemed confused by the whole thing, one year where Thing One ripped open all the presents after some considerable encouragement only to keep playing with his old toys and finally one year where Thing Two woke up in time to practically catch Santa in the act, but Thing One slept until 8:30. When the hell do either of my kids sleep until 8:30? DH and I are ready for a Christmas where the kids are so excited that they can't sleep the night before and they are bursting out of bed at 5am. It is the anticipation and excitement that make this holiday so fun. And as an adult I realize that it is really all about the kids.
Thing Two is still too young. At 16 months he doesn't understand the significance of all this, and well, Thing One doesn't seem to care. We fortunately have kids that are not that focused on stuff. I am not patting myself on the back. This is a quality of a child's personality that either comes as part of the standard operating equipment or it doesn't, at least as far as I believe. Thing One shares reasonably well. He throws fits over toys in the store, but once we leave, he generally forgets. I can't think of a time where he has expressed interest in a particular toy that he wanted me to buy him that wasn't directly in front of him. Now granted, we don't shower him with gifts, we include him in choosing gifts for others and we make sure that he doesn't watch any TV channels that play advertisements. And in general DH and I don't spend alot of time in stores. I get much of what we need online, so the Things aren't totally overexposed to the consumerist mentality. I never thought this would have a down side, our lackluster Christmas.
But I am being contradictory about this. I am fairly religious (And that's cool if you're not) so of course I don't like the consumerist side to Christmas, but I love giving gifts and seeing the happiness they bring others. I guess I always thought my kids would be really into it.
The other week we were driving to visit family in Long Island. The Things love the Christmas music on the lite station, so we were tuning in. Frank Sinatra came on singing Silent Night. I turned to Thing One and told him, "You know that the reason we celebrate Christmas is because Christmas is Jesus's birthday." There is a Catholic school a block up from our apartment building that has a 40 foot crucifix on the side of the chapel. Most likely if you asked Thing One who Jesus was, he'd say "the man on the building". I continued "And Santa loved Jesus so much he wanted to give all the little kids around the world presents, kind of like birthday presents." But then I went one step too far. I added "And just a reminder, Jesus is God's son." That was too much for a three year old brain.
Thing One furrowed his brow and looked very confused. I waited eagerly to answer any question that could pop out of his little brain. He looked up at me and asked "Is Santa Claus God?"
S***. What do I say now?
The holy trinity is a difficult concept even for adults to understand. How is Jesus half man and half god? How can a deity have a child with a human? And what the heck is the Holy Spirit. I am not even going to begin to debate this topic. It is far too complex, and most of you probably don't care. But we all work so hard to keep the season about what it is really supposed to be about! So just imagine it to a three year old, and then throw a Santa Claus into the mix and, Boom! Confusion City.
Fortunately we are finally at an age when Thing One understands the concept of Santa but he is not scared of him (since he is a stranger after all). Thing Two understands less, but his personality is more intuitive. He senses the excitement and has been dancing around the apartment, just as an overflow of his joy, I have to assume. This is the Christmas I envisioned when I found out I was pregnant all those four years ago. God, I was just a kid back then, 26 and clueless. And the forward thinker in me worries a little about future Christmases. Will I be able to afford the "toys" they want in ten years? Will they still be excited about Christmas then? Will they ever deeply understand the significance of this time of year? Will my boys be spiritual naturally? Or will it be me dragging them to church while they try to run away from religion altogether? And then I stop and take a deep breath and remember to live in today. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why we call it The Present.
This is the very best Christmas yet. Let's keep 'em coming.