I just finished packing up the rest of the holiday decorations today and this day always leaves me feeling a bit sad. I love Christmas and all the obnoxious, cheesy, bedazzled hoopla that surrounds it. For the month of December and part of November, I do my best to suffocate myself with Christmas. I’ve always been a fan of the holidays but having you and Miles adds an extra specialness to this time of year. There is an innocence and an excitement that is long lost on many adults and it’s really such a beautiful thing to watch Christmas unfold through the eyes of children.
As usual, the advent calendar was packed with all sorts of activities meant to bring the family together. This year proved to be a bit more challenging now that Dad is busy with his start up but we still found time to do a lot of the things. In addition to the tried and true activities: getting hot cocoa, watching Christmas movies, and my personal favorite, eating a hot fudge sundae for dinner, we also added a few new things like picking out a new holiday book, watching the tree-lighting ceremony in Oakland and going to Fairyland for their holiday festivities. One of the few surprises was you taking a liking to ice skating. We visited the outdoor ice skating rink in Walnut Creek and it had been a couple years since we last attempted this. The last time, Miles was just a year old and spent the evening in the stroller while either myself or your Dad took you around the rink. I remember last time, you were very fearful of the whole experience–never letting go of either one of us. In fact, I’m pretty sure there were tears. This time was a completely different experience. When you learned they had gliders, you quickly told us to leave you alone so you could go out on your own. Even when it was time to return the gliders, you still hobbled around the rink like it was no thing. I maintained my place near the wall while I clenched my ass with insane intensity in an effort to stay vertical. Fortunately, we’re in an area that is not accustomed to winter activities so the majority of the participants all looked like baby deer out there learning to walk.
A first for you this month was going to the Nutcracker Ballet. I was very much looking forward to this since I had dreamed of taking you to the Ballet since you were a wee baby. I had you and the entire family dress up for our night out in Berkeley complete with a Chinese dinner beforehand because you must eat Chinese food before the ballet. No? Well, that’s how we roll. I really want to take you to the San Francisco Ballet but you’re still a bit too young and the tickets are insanely expensive. I’m going to make damn sure you’re going to sit for two hours if I’m going to spend money that is comparable to buying a vintage credenza. Not that I’m in the market for such an item but you get the point. It’s pretty damn expensive. After much research, we decided to go to the very child friendly and very affordable Berkeley Ballet. It was very cute for your first Nutcracker experience but I’m still very much looking forward to the day that I can take you to the big performance complete with sticker shock.
I learned from the activities on this year’s advent calendar that I really need to add more secret Santa/goodwill activities for next year. You’re a kid and it’s completely understandable that Christmas quickly becomes a bunch of ‘I wants’ and ‘I needs’ but I really want to show you the other side of this holiday. Yes, gifts are great and to a child, that’s what Christmas is mostly about–waking up Christmas morning to find the mega stash of goodness under the tree. If we continue to be financially healthy, I will never stop short of making sure you and Miles have a memorable Christmas morning. However, I want you to experience the joy of picking out the perfect gift for someone and seeing their expression, the joy of picking out a gift for a child who has a lot less than you, handing out homemade presents and treats to our neighbors and your friends, helping out those who are less fortunate. I understand you’re still very young to totally understand this entire concept but I also feel that you’re never to young to start the conversation. I must sound like a broken record to you because a couple times you stopped me short and said, “I know Mom–there are kids who have nothing. Maybe you should give them your rice pilaf?” Aren’t you clever.
I typically love the gift hunting process especially having you and Miles in the picture. Toys are so fun to buy but this year was especially difficult for me because I really wanted to choose decent gifts for you. In years past, we have definitely gone overboard buying way too much and then scrambling for months to find room for everything. Nothing says hoarder like stacks and stacks of boxes. I also remember the aftermath of years past when as a result of going crazy with the gifts, both you and Miles had moments of overload where you simply just sat, surrounded by the day’s offerings. Too overwhelmed to play is a good sign that we overdid it. Majority of the presents we bought you were puzzles, board games, crafts and what may be your favorite gift, a camera. My heart just about melted when you started taking pictures and exclaimed, “I’m just like you, Momma!” Be careful though, the camera can become addictive. I even made a conscience decision to take a step back from the camera because I felt like I was living through a lens–never taking a step back to just be in the moment.
Another gift that proved to be very successful was a brand new bicycle. You’ve been riding your original 12 inch bike for the last couple years and it started to look rather pathetic as you pedaled around with your knees nearly coming up to your chin. I looked long and hard for the perfect bike for you and discovered a mini beach cruiser complete with a bell. Oh, it’s so cute it makes my teeth hurt. I was also incredibly lucky to receive a bike as well for Christmas and it has been wonderful to go on bike rides with you. We took Miles on his balance bike the other day and quickly learned this will be an activity for just the two of us for now since Miles cried the whole time about his penis rubbing on the bike seat. Boys.
Another gift that I discovered that is the most amazing thing ever, especially for you, are sticker mosaic projects. You have a love for stickers and crafts and these are the marriage of these two. Uncle Timmy was also apparently in the know of what five year old girls want because he too gave one of these as a gift. They are amazing because the craft contains hundreds of stickers that you have to place on the corresponding numbers, much like paint-by-number but with stickers. You sit down at the table and these projects consume you for hours. These are duel gifts! You get the joy of completing a project on your own and I get the gift of time. Never mind diamonds, give me peace and quiet for a few hours and I’m a new woman.
2014 is going to be a big year for you–a time of big changes. Later this year you will be starting Kindergarten and I will once again cry in to my pillow over the idea of you growing up way too fast. I’m not big on New Years resolutions because I personally think it’s a lot of pressure to suddenly change old habits. I instead like to perform New Years resolutions light where I set suggestions for myself as opposed to rigid restrictions. Case in point, I would like to be healthier this year and I may start another workout routine but I will merely leave this as a suggestion to myself instead of making it a priority action item. I will also work on not being so much of an introvert and suggest to myself that I start following through on the those playdates that I continue to put off. Again, not to set expectations too high for myself, I am merely suggesting that I may want to attempt this from time to time. See? Resolutions light.
Miles is starting school next week and I have set his schedule in a way that allows me to have Wednesday mornings with just you. I often forget what it was like to just have time with you. It seems like days ago that it was just you and me and I miss those moments. When I informed you of our new set-up, you actually squealed with excitement. When I asked you what kinds of things you want to do on our our Wednesday morning dates, you stopped and thought very carefully for several seconds before responding with, “you can paint my toenails!” after I informed you that we couldn’t do this every week, you shrugged and said, “that’s ok, we’ll do lunch.” I just adore you.
The new year brings so many new things and I look forward to continuing to watch you grow and become a bona fide little girl. The days of preschool are almost behind us and it’s astonishing to think that you’re already approaching your school-age years. In addition to my own personal reflection that I do each time this year, I hope you as well reflect upon your own life. I can think of several things you can attempt in the new year to better your life as well as those around you. Sharing is something you can work on or you should try taking a stab at cleaning up after yourself. Completing a Lego project on your own could also be fun and time consuming and I’m also going to go out on a limb and suggest you even try wiping your own behind this year. You see, so many areas to improve upon and a full year to give it all you got. Really though, if you could wipe your own behind, that would be solid. Pun intended.