A couple girlfriends and I were discussing the holidays the other day, and the topic of decorating for Christmas came up. Specifically, decorating the Christmas tree as a family. I think all (or most of us, at least) have this vision of a magical family evening where hot cocoa is sipped and memories are shared as ornaments are hung on the tree.
Let's face it - that just doesn't happen with small children. I mean, maybe it does for some people, but that has not been my experience in the four years since becoming a parent. I've learned to lower my expectations quite a bit in regards to holiday decorating.
Day 2 of our Christmas advent calendar this year was "decorate for Christmas," and I realistically knew this would take more than one day to accomplish. I have a lot of Christmas decorations and I also have two homes to decorate - our house in the Twin Cities and the lake cabin - so I started early and completed little by little over the span of several days. The whole process was kind of stressful to be honest, which is the opposite of how "the dream" is suppose to go. Completely re-decorating a living space while inviting young children to participate is a recipe for chaos. "Let It Go!," my girlfriends and I agreed, is the motto for success. It's okay if not everything goes as planned.
Andi doesn't like decorating for Christmas (and I don't force him to participate) so I probably won't have the happy memory of us all decorating the tree together. That's okay, though; I hope Tory (and someday, Aden) will enjoy decorating with me. Tory was excited about helping this year, and did so by hanging a few ornaments and placing the star on top of the tree. There was a fair amount of pouting mixed with moments of laughter and smiles, which is pretty reflective of our lives these days.
Decorating for Christmas at the cabin ...
It took me an entire afternoon to assemble the artificial Christmas tree in our living room at home, and another afternoon to string lights on its branches. On the third day, Tory helped decorate the tree with gold beads and ornaments. Andi came home from work that evening and said, "I'm guessing this is how your day went..." as he pointed to a cluster of beads hanging on one side of the tree. "Let It Go! Let It Go!" Tory had a clear vision of how she wanted the beads to be strung, so I let her do as she pleased (and adjusted them later when she was asleep).
I'm feeling major guilt over not putting up a "family" Christmas tree downstairs this year. The smaller artificial tree is where I typically hang our homemade and heartfelt ornaments. I just couldn't bring myself to devote another afternoon assembling (and eventually un-assembling a Christmas tree). "Let It Go!"
One decoration that's been a huge hit with the kids this year is the wooden nativity scene that Aden received as a baptismal present. Tory and Aden have spent many minutes this month playing with the characters in the manger.
Tory said to me one day as she played with the nativity set.
Tory: "Why do you only have one sheep in your Ranger?"
Me: "Manger ... it's called a manger."
Guess we've got some work to do around the ol' Christmas story!