When you have kids, especially younger ones; the first few days after Christmas are a lot like recovering from a hangover. You’re tired as hell, there’s shit everywhere, and more than likely, your ears are still ringing from all the new noise making devices that Santa has gifted.
I’ve been in that space for the past three days now. This was our son’s first “big” Christmas, so I’ll admit that we went a little overboard this year. I’m honestly not quite sure how it got this bad. I went into the holiday season focused. I was determined to only get him the necessities, a couple of toys and some nice winter sweaters. One tricycle, Mickey Mouse drum set, a way too expensive tablet, pop up tent and every damn V-Tech toy in Target later, though… it became clear that my game plan had gone out the window.
I guess I got caught up in feeling of wanting my child to experience the “magic of Christmas.” I envisioned him waking up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, full of anticipation and wonder. I just knew that once he saw every little toy that Santa had left him he’d be overcome with excitement. The fact that he’s only a year and a half and has the attention span of a puppy, didn’t matter to me! I felt like I had waited all my life for this moment of joy and I was prepared to relish every second of it.
And then came my reality check.
On Christmas morning, my son who is usually up no later than 6:30am; decided to sleep in. I mean seriously, the boy didn’t open his eyes until around nine o’clock. On top of being a late riser, (I’d been up since 3am wrapping gifts) he woke up in the worst mood ever. He wasn’t interested in morning pleasantries, I had to bribe him with a cookie to put his robe on and despite me rocking the hugest grin on my face, his smile was nonexistent.
When it came time for the “big reveal,” instead of him running up to the toys like I’d imagined, he was a little apprehensive and honestly, plain ol’ confused. His dad tried to place him on his tricycle and he lost it. Once he calmed down, he happily opened his other presents but had much more fun ripping up the wrapping paper than he did playing with the gifts themselves. He did enjoy his drum set but as of five minutes ago, one of the sticks is already missing and he’s running around the house using the other one as a weapon.
This season has taught me that despite what I had envisioned this holiday to look like as a parent, the “magic of Christmas” is not about the material, but about the overall experience. My son had a wonderful holiday for so many reasons, and not one had to do with the gifts that he received. He was blessed enough to wake up to both parents who were able to put their differences aside and shower him with affection. He got to spend time and bond with his relatives, some of whom he hasn’t seen in months. He got to eat three full meals, in a warm home, surrounded by love and stories of Christmas pasts, unity and togetherness. These are the moments that mattered.
The excitement that my son felt ripping the wrapping paper off of the package that his $90 tablet came in, is the same excitement that he would’ve felt had he been ripping that paper off an empty water bottle. And while I realize that he’s only one and as he gets older his interests will undoubtedly become more focused on actual toys; I also know that the joy of material gifts fades quickly, and the feeling of gratitude is one that he will always carry with him.
So, here’s to tripping over those damn Legos and being disoriented by those annoying light up toys; I’ve learned my lesson. Next year I’m wrapping up old shoes, empty water bottles and Tupperware bowls. My kid only cares about ripping the wrapping paper off anyway.
Featured image courtesy of Shani Garland. Check out her blog at shaniaisha.com.