Thursday, 25 December 2014

What our kids really want from us this Christmas

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The house is quiet now. All that you can hear is the soft sound of Christmas music still playing in the kitchen and Christmas cartoons now on the TV, with little people still in their jammies having quiet time and nap time. We've moved into mom and dad's house for the week, along with Jen and Jeff and their two kids, as we always do over the holidays--and the calm after the excitement of the morning has already begun. Cookie crumbs sit on the counter, wrapping paper is tucked away, dishes are stacked in the dishwasher from our big brunch this morning, candles flicker on the kitchen island, new toys are scattered all over the sun room floor and treats can be found in mason jars and cookie tins all over the house.  

Christmas was great this year.

And the build up to it? Well, it was as insane as it should be.

It was Christmas shopping until 10:00pm at night and baking up delicious treats late into the night until my kitchen exploded with chocolate and cellophane and ribbon.

Chocolate covered apples...  

Christmas bark...

 Christmas crack...
 and chocolate covered caramels...

 all got wrapped up and given away to my teaching partners, our friends and neighbours and Mya's teachers as well.

Just days before Christmas, shortbread cookies were laid out in a row, ready for our friends and their kids to come help us decorate them with candies, icing and sprinkles...

 and drinks with fun straws were placed just so.
 Snowman poop tags were made in a rush just the night before and handed out to little friend's eager hands...
 and the hot chocolate bar was set up and ready to go.

I think sometimes the build up to Christmas--the parties, the baking, the wrapping and the gift giving is just as much fun as the actual event itself. And yes, it can certainly be overwhelming and stressful...yes it certainly can. But I tried this year to keep my perspective in check, my expectations realistic and my stress therefore low.

Because what I've learned about being a parent is that we try to give our all to our kids--to give them the presents that they want and the magical experiences that we envision Christmas to be in their childhood. And of course, yes, they want this from us--they love the presents, the magic and the excitement that comes with this wonderful time of year. But what they really want from us is for us to be happy.

They want to be able to look back on Christmas and remember mom and dad laughing, smiling and enjoying themselves. Sure they love the cookies and the twinkle lights, the Christmas tree and the talk of Santa coming down the chimney. But what they really want is for everyone to feel the same type of excitement and happiness that they are feeling--even if you have to fake your way through it and pull it together for their sake, as I did last year. Our kids really just want for their parents to be happy at Christmas.

So this Christmas, as I started to feel the overwhelming pressure of not having enough time to shop, or bake or wrap all of the presents...along with of course the typical daily grind of trying to come up with dinner each night, making sure lunches were packed, wiping dirty faces, getting to work on time and caring for my two little loves all while carrying around a few extra pounds in my belly as this sweet baby continues to grow--I stopped myself and reminded myself of what my children really needed from me this Christmas. They didn't really care if homemade treats were made. They didn't really care if their presents weren't exactly what they asked for. They didn't really care if the lights were strung as perfectly as I wanted them to be. They just wanted me to be happy. So, with this in mind, my perspective was instantly changed and we put together a wonderful Christmas full of magic and laughter, and toddler meltdowns and sleepless nights. Similar to last year, and just as it's supposed to be when you have four children under the age of four all living under the same roof (and three of them sleeping together in the same room for the first time this year!).

 So they unwrapped matching Christmas jammies on Christmas eve...

 and they helped to set their little table with fun Christmas straws and cups, and plates and Christmas crackers full of paper crowns and cheap, useless toys that of course they loved.

 Santa bibs were wrapped around little boy's necks..

 and the excitement of everyone cramming around the kitchen island to fill their plates with turkey, sweet potatoes and delicious food began.

Mom made up reindeer food for the kids to sprinkle all over the front lawn--because the reindeer need food too when they're waiting outside for Santa to finish filling the stockings...

 and we watched as excited little people fell for the magic of Christmas as they excitedly sprinkled their oats and seeds and magic flying sprinkles all over the grass.

 And our Christmas tradition of Santa somehow magically coming early and sneaking a special present into our mailbox for all of the kids to share (always a new Christmas book for the kids to read together on Christmas eve) continued

 and Jen read them their new story while all decked out in their new jammies in front of the Christmas tree.

 So with cookie crumbs left from Santa the next morning,

 and all of us crammed among presents as we watched as the kids opened their gifts first...
 it reminded me again about what our kids really want from us at Christmas time.

It's not just the juice boxes that Santa brought, which just thrilled them to bits.

 or the homemade dolls from moms who spent hours sewing the perfect clothes, eye colour and hair onto this adorable doll for a little boy who really wanted an Oliver doll (my sister is amazing isn't she??)...those are even Oliver's old baby clothes transformed into doll clothes!

 It's not the tool set that thrilled this little boy to death...

or the fancy nail polish spa that took place once all of the gifts were unwrapped.
 It wasn't just the new board games being played with Papa or the mounds of treats tucked into each stocking. The reason why our kids will hopefully look back on this Christmas and wish for it to be able to happen all over again is that the adults around them pulled themselves together and enjoyed themselves amid the chaos, magic, excitement and pressure that Christmas undoubtedly brings.

And once all of the presents were unwrapped, and the toys were pulled apart and the Christmas brunch was eaten...we came in to find these three snuggling on the couch together...

 which is really what Christmas love is all about.

Merry Christmas everyone.
Stay in your jammies as long as you can today.

Erica xo

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