Reflecting on another Christmas with a 15 month old

I have forgotten what Christmas warlike with a little one in the house. It has been 8 years since we last had a toddler at Christmas. Those things we see and do are much different with an active baby around. DK has reminded us of the wonder, the importance, the comfort of traditions. We enjoy decorating the house as do most families. There is just something spectacular about a festive home during Christmas that makes me smile. 

Each year we bring out those boxes and love placing those things around the house. In the beginning it was only me finding places for our Christmas decorations. As the years have passed and the girls have aged they have become active participants in our home’s festive making. Whereas our placement of those decorations vary every year the same things are there to remind us of our Christmas. We love to drape garland over the banister and have done so for all the years we have lived in our home. And those little birds that can be found in those garland boughs? They were made one December weekend when the oldest girls were in grade school. We spent hours making ornaments for the family that year and upon seeing how plain the birds were looking the idea of glittery birds came. Each year the big box of garland is brought up and all the girls squeal with excitement. To them this is THE box that starts our family decorations. While Damien is too small to help clip those birds in the garland he has noticed their presence and loves to show them to me several times a day. He tries to form the word “bird” in his baby sounds and it mostly sounds like “brrrr”! as he points to them. 

I wonder what Damien will remember. Next Christmas he will be 2 and I wonder what will be the thing that becomes close to his heart. What will speak to him? Will he remember how he loved to play with those ornaments? How fascinated he was with removing an ornament to replace it a branch lower on the tree…….or just toss it at the tree? Will he remember that his toddler strength made us gasp one too many times as we rushed to the tree to keep it from toppling over as he tugged hard on the branches? How he liked the sound those ornaments made when put inside a bucket and rattled around. That he figured out how plastic ornaments bounce on the floor. Will he love to jingle the bells dangling from ribbon next year? I expect each year to bring new discoveries.

I am thinking of the things he might enjoy seeing again but I should be thinking of the what he did. Of the what he will do. I will fondly remember how he would sit with his big sister in the early morning hours to look at the Christmas tree. He would settle in to play next to the tree with his toys. I'll laugh to think of the way he would pull so hard on the plastic ornaments that the ribbon and caps remained stuck to the branches. Each day he would drag the antique suitcase full of wooden nutcrackers around the living room wailing in frustration because his little hands cannot work the latches. How he’d be giggling when someone opens the suitcase for him. The joy he had lining up the nutcrackers on the coffee table… only have epic nutcracker battles. Piles of ornaments scattered around the tree. Some knocked off as he moved around playing others removed with the intention of being hung on a different branch only to be forgotten for some other fun thing to do.

I'll never forget those adorable little grins as I caught him trying to peek in a present or two. His tiny fingers pulling back at the wrapping paper knowing that something fantastic was hidden beneath. And me being constantly prepared with rolls of tape to repair present after present. Some from purpose driven curiosity and others merely collateral damage from a toddler boy’s rough play. (There may have been a foot or two through some packages that were being used for steps.)

I'll remember that after breakfast it was time to put the Wise Men from the Little People nativity set in the dump truck so that he could scoot them all over the house. I'll note seeing several stacking Santa dolls being lined up on the edge of the coffee table. There will be a half eaten cookie laying on the floor next to him and both hands full of cars he is sending across the floor.  That he will bring me the Little People baby Jesus and ask me to kiss it for him. He'll lovingly take it back to the living room and put Jesus under the tree. We will do this many times a week and will begin to always look under the tree for baby Jesus.

After lunch he will remind me that a bite of a cookie is a good treat before our afternoon walk outside. That basketballs and ornaments will be scattered all over the kitchen while I prepare supper. As the sun has set and the end of supper closes in we will remember how Damien loved to watch the Advent candles. From his high chair he watch the flames flicker and listen as our conversations whirl around the room, between his bites he’d pause and blow as hard as he could to get those candles snuffed out. As the days turned into weeks we began to see he was ready to have a turn just like the big kids. I'll remember how in his first tiny puffs would almost be enough to snuff a candle and eventually was able to snuff the candle. He will clap his little hands pleased with success knowing that he did a good job. Then he will join his sisters with after supper table clearing being so happy to carry things to the kitchen just like the big kids.

 When the house is quiet the after supper time of relaxing sets in Damien will want to crawl into your lap to read a book. He will want to sit next to the tree to look at in the nighttime glow. He’ll say ‘ooooh” as we turn off all the lights to enjoy the Christmas tree and try to reach for another ornament. 

The little things he found amusing those are the decorations of Christmas.


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