I have memories from childhood of Norman Rockwell-esque white Christmases spent with the whole family. I love those memories – they make me feel so warm, and loved, and secure, and nostalgic for all the best parts of childhood – and I want to help make the same sorts of memories for my son. Lucien’s first two Christmases in Wisconsin we spent with Grandma and Grandpa on the farm, surrounded by warm, loving family and with all the traditional trappings of Christmas, and they very much resembled the traditional holidays I knew growing up.
This year, such a traditional white family Christmas was not to be. My parents were on the mainland, Grandma Carmen, our usual family cook and hostess extraordinaire had to work, the weather was certainly not white, and Lucien is easily overwhelmed by too much excitement.
We decided to roll with it. We made it fun and warm and happy, and I hope that Lucien will look back on this holiday with the same sense of warmth and fondness that I experience. Maybe he will even appreciate our quirky, eclectic celebration.
Daddy had to work on Christmas Eve, so Lucien and I went adventuring together. We stopped off at Starbucks for some food and drink (Thanks for tucking that gift card in with your Christmas letter, Grandma and Grandpa!) and sat watching people walk by outside. A very kind stranger saw Lucien and folded an origami crane for him out of a colorful newspaper page. He showed us how to make the bird’s wings flap up and down, handed it to Lucien, and told him he could hang it on our tree for Christmas. This random act of kindness was the highlight of my Christmas Eve.
After Starbucks we piled in the car and drove to Lucien’s favorite park to swing and climb and play and ride bikes. We also brought along the small piece of bread that came in Lucien’s Starbucks box so that he could feed it to the birds – because they need a Christmas Eve treat, too! We stopped by the library (which was open, to my surprise) to drop off a few books and check out a few more, then wished a “Merry Christmas” to our favorite story time leader and headed back home.
We cut out paper snowflakes and then hung them from the ceiling using colorful Christmas ribbons.
We baked a batch of “sugar” cookies. Lucien loved holding the blender and mixing them up. He was so excited that he got to lick one of the beater blades! After he finished all of the dough on that beater blade, he proceeded to filch more dough from the mixing bowl! By the time we got our dough rolled out and cut into shapes, there was not much left. The finished product was incredibly delicious, though!
Lucien was so excited for Christmas to come that he had a hard time calming down for bed. We tried to explain to him that the sooner he fell asleep the sooner Christmas would be here. He would bound down the hallway toward his bedroom shouting “Let’s go to sleep!” We did eventually all get to sleep, though, and I snuck out to the living room in the middle of the night to play Santa Claus. I had so much fun!
From Mom and Dad, Lucien got a tabletop toy kitchen, more wooden play food, and a stocking stuffed with dried fruit, sparkly play doh, socks, and art supplies. He also had a plethora of presents waiting under the tree – from all his grandparents as well as several of Dad’s coworkers. They were all so generous!
(We have more gifts for him, but we are starting a tradition of 12 days of Christmas – giving him a little something every morning for 12 days, to spread out the fun and to avoid overwhelming him. More on our 12 days in another post!)
Lucien was up before the sun – 5am! He ran out to the living room where I was sitting and reading underneath the lit Christmas tree. I wished him a Merry Christmas, and he gave me the biggest full-body bear hug and gazed at the presents with the most amazing expression of joy and wonder I have ever seen on his face. That moment, just me and him in the early morning quiet, made my entire holiday season. Then I asked if he wanted I wake up Dad and open gifts. He ran into Dad’s bedroom, jumped on him, and cried “Merry Christmas!” We all went back out to the living room together, where Lucien admired his kitchen, opened up his stocking, and then proceeded to bake us cakes and make us sparkly play doh gingerbread men. We played together contentedly for several hours. Later in the morning we opened up perhaps half of the present under the tree, but Lucien was already starting to get overwhelmed. Grandpa Nic came over to visit, so we played with the toy food and play doh in the house and rode bikes out in the parking lot.
By noon Lucien was getting tired and overwhelmed and unhappy. He has recently dropped napping – he will not nap at home at all any more – but some days (especially exciting days, and days when he wakes up at 5am!) he needs a rest. He will only sleep on a long car ride, so I took him on a long car ride. He napped for a short time and woke up still unhappy, but Daddy and I managed to help him wake up and cheer up, and then we had a great afternoon together.
In the afternoon we opened some more presents and played outside with the neighbor kids. Sophia got a new bike and some kinetic sand, which she brought outside, and Lucien had fun playing with her. (I am so glad he enjoyed the kinetic sand, because I just might have some wrapped up for one of his twelve days of Christmas!)
Lucien enjoyed his new books and sticker pads and stuffed animals, but some of his favorite Christmas presents were actually gifts intended for Dad – a hydro flask and k cups were both highly entertaining. Lucien spent a lot of time packing them, repacking them, and lining them up on the floor.
For our non-traditional Christmas dinner we ordered Thai food. Yep. Lucien was beyond excited for “chicken on a stick,” aka chicken satay. And his parents were stoked for rich and creamy coconut curry. Some more play doh and kitchen play, a few stories, and our tired boy was ready for bed.
He needs his rest, because December 26 is our big, traditional, family dinner at Grandma Carmen’s house. I am grateful for family, fun, and celebrations, and grateful that we get to spread out all these fun activities over the course of several days.