As I try to recall Christmases of the past, I am struck by how things have and will change this year more than any other, including the years that I first moved away from my parents. My infant son in his short life and stature has caused more changes than I have ever experienced at one Christmas or another.
Many of the changes are good or fun, one of the first things is how we have to be more careful with what we put out and where. Our living room saw many additions this year as the once wide and empty spaces suddenly were filled with an exer-saucer, a baby swing, a floor full of safety mats, endless toys, books, teddy bears and blankets. Trying to squeeze a tree in our already cramped living room was fun this year. We had to downsize some of our typical decorations or move them to other places - either we didn't have the space or it just wasn't safe to put them out. My son isn't quite crawling yet, but he rolls, kicks, shifts, and somehow ends up exactly where we try to prevent him from getting. We had to consider things he may get his hands (or his feet!) on and either move or remove the item from our normal Christmas decor.
Another thing is how already, Christmas has shifted to be all about him, in a good way! For fun, we have all the gifts under our tree (except the ones for him) are all from him. Seeing tags written with "To Mommy" and "To Daddy" brings a smile to my face. I know that he is not aware of Christmas or Santa yet, but we will do our best to include and expose him to our traditions to get him familiar. So far he's definitely curious about the tree and the colored packages that make a nice sound when he kicks the paper and he is enjoying my dancing snowmen and singing bells.
Family members are excited to have a baby in the mix this year as children really are what Christmas is all about. While we are excited to have our growing extended family coming and going around us, we are also a little wary of this too. Finding that balance between our own immediate family time and time to see all of the newly made aunts, uncles and grandparents may not always be easy. It will be busy, but we are going to try to have some of our own quality family time to set our own traditions and appreciate our new growing immediate family. Aside from this we are going to try to please all other family members in some way or another, realizing that they all can't be with us all the time and we will have to do our best.
Another area of caution we are aware of is the undoubted parenting "advice" we will recieve as a result of merely being around so many of our relatives for such an extended time. This is a very sensitive subject for all parties invovled, particularly when everyone will have the best interests of our little guy at heart. That being said there are certain things that will be tolerated and some things that won't, and finding that way to delicately address this is going to undoubtedly be a challenge. I personally don't want any tension building or feeling the need to defend my parenting choices, especially over a happy time like the holidays.
Another major change for us this year is what we are able to do. For the past number of years it has just been the two of us and we spent our holidays attending various dinners and parties, and hosting our share of these events- coming and going as we pleased. While we still have plans to attend/host this year, it will require some more planning time. We have to consider our son's schedule for meals and naps, and have ample supplies ready for our out-of- home activities. We cannot instantly commit to an event as sometimes we will require a babysitter. I am also determined to maintain his bedtime routine, so there are some events that we simply won't be able to attend. I'm not saying that I will never waiver from this rule, but it will be for a very special event if I do. It just isn't worth it to mess him up and end up being up all night with a fussy baby for weeks after Christmas is long over, trying to get him back on schedule.
It will take some juggling and a more flexible attitude this year than in previous years but ultimately, I am very excited to enjoy my son's very first Christmas. I hope to have the best experience possible with all of our loved ones. Looking forward to it!