Christmas 2016 was our first Christmas as a family of four! When I realized this, I figured, why not write about it for the sake of posterity? Next year, when my kids are almost four and almost two, no matter where, how, and with whom we celebrate our Christmas, we’ll never be able to recreate this first time. So I write this long post for myself – so I can revisit in later years and remember this first time fondly.
As I wrote in Multicultural Celebrations, this was our first Christmas on our own. While I missed my sister terribly and wished I was with her to celebrate this wonderful day as I have for the last 7 years, I was also excited about how the events leading up to and the day of would come to be, on my own. Here’s how it all went down:
Two years ago when J was 10 months old, my sister and her family drove all the way to Chicago from the upper Northeast to celebrate Christmas with us. We were so late to the tree shopping game that they actually hauled their tree on their road trip. This year, I started early and in November when I saw a great deal on Target.com, I jumped at it. Within four days, the tree arrived in a box at our doorstep and we were all set.
Christmas ornaments aren’t cheap, depending on whom you ask. I remembered what great deals my sister and I had gotten on a bunch of after-Christmas sale things at our Chicago Target the day after so I figured I’ll just buy a few basic ornaments now for Christmas and buy the rest at 50% off the day after. Because one box of 12 ornaments weren’t enough, I packed TJ in the car, still in his PJs, and we drove to the dollar store to buy a few more.
We did this buying and setting up of our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving because after a memorable visit from the grandparents, TJ was feeling sad and we needed something to take his mind off. I also bought a tree skirt and our stockings at the dollar store. You should see the prices of these at regular stores!!! A good tree skirt runs upwards of $19.99…wth!! For now, a $1 skirt will have to do.
(I went to Target the day after Christmas at 9:00 a.m. Stores opened at 7:00 a.m. and EVERY SINGLE ornament set was sold out. EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!)
TJ’s Wishlist for Santa
As is tradition in many households, TJ made a list for Santa – a list of all the things he wanted for Christmas. I was surprised he was into this so much and came up with everything on his own. I had already bought him his favorite garbage truck at a consignment sale – this is the first thing he picks up at our local library’s playtime and absolutely loves it and so when I saw this at the sale, I bought it, in October – so I may have had something to do with putting the idea of asking one from Santa in his head…I can be sneaky like that! He also asked for garbage, quite naturally because every garbage truck needs garbage to go with, Lightening stickers (as in Disney Pixar Cars characters’ stickers), and puzzles.
I was really, really excited about doing these with my kiddo. We did a bunch of them, every Friday, leading up to the big day. We painted and decorated pinecones, and maple leaves, made a picture frame as a gift for his friend, and three ornaments with photos of each kid and one of them both. At times, the making of these arts and crafts was more stressful than was worth doing and one day I’ll call the BS on toddler activities that create more stress than delight but for now, seeing the end results, I do believe they were all good things to do with my child at this age.
As he gets older, I am not sure, he’s going to want to sit patiently with his mother and do crafts so I do want to appreciate what I have and did with my 2-year-old this Christmas. Thankfully, when he tires, I’ll have Baby E to turn to as it will be her age to engage in arts and crafts. Hopefully. For memories’ sake.
If you remember, I had made Shrewsbury Biscuits for Diwali. I ended up with so much cookie dough, that on Aaron’s advice, I had frozen a big chunk of it. Hallelujah! This pre-made dough saved me a whole lot of time, stress, and anxiety which I am very, very prone to during the holidays, especially with things related to cooking (or baking). With the dough ready to go, and the baking of cookies which I only remembered at 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, my anxieties were relatively easily tamed. However, because I had a tough time figuring out the cookie cutter press – Wilton Cookie Pro Ultra II Cookie Press, I was back to stressing out anyway. The fact that TJ wanted to eat the raw cookie dough was only adding to the aggravation. Thanks to Aaron’s patience and help in figuring out the Cookie Pro (I was just too tired to figure it out on my own but once I learned how to use it, it was actually fun to do).
We had to delay TJ’s bedtime because well…the cookies still needed to be baked, cooled, and decorated after being cut into design. So while the cookies baked, we played, ‘Elf on the Shelf’ with him.
This was a lot of fun. Some people play this game for a few days leading up to Christmas. We didn’t. I think just playing it on Christmas Eve while waiting for the cookies to bake is perfect. TJ had a lot of fun trying to look for the runaway Elf. We hid him in all kinds of places and he found him each time, laughing with glee and joy as he ran around the living room listening for the Elf to make a sound or start singing. I had never played this before (being a Hindu Indian and growing up in India and all) but I enjoyed it as much as my kid. I look forward to next year when I’ll have both the kids running around looking for the Elf. It’s more fun when the search becomes a little competitive (or, maybe not. I’ll find out next Christmas).
Once the cookies were baked, it was time to let them cool, and finally time to decorate them. I had only purchased Wilton’s red cookie icing which worked well for our purpose. Next year, I may purchase the three pack Wilton Christmas Cookie Icing Set, 3-Pack just to give TJ and E more coloring options.
Also, I will start the baking process much sooner in the day so we don’t have to rush through it, so I can be patient with the messes the kids make and take it all in stride.
Somehow I lose my holiday or Christmas spirit when I see messes and that’s just not right, not with kids who WILL make a mess decorating cookies and the sooner I accept that, the happier we’ll all be.
TJ did all the decorating by himself. On the right is the plate the next day after Santa had, had his fill. Once the cookies were ready, I poured a glass of milk and TJ carried it all the way to set up next to the tree for Santa to eat and drink. It was so cute, watching him carry the plate, oh so carefully, to the table.
We packed all the presents on Christmas Eve. Because we packed all our presents together, Aaron and I knew what we bought for the other. In fact, I purchased my own present from him and told him that, that was what he was giving me – Burberry Touch. For him, I got the essentials, undershirts and underwear. I also bought him a new wireless router but really, it is for all of us. Funny how we start buying more practical things as the years of marriage advance.
Unbeknownst to the other though, we each had separately wrapped something for the other so there be at least one element of surprise. Isn’t that cute? We both thought alike and didn’t find out until the next morning. I got him a San Jose Sharks winter hat and he got me a pretty kitchen towel (not that I needed or wanted one but I liked it and TJ had helped him pick it out) that I actually quite liked because I am easy to please like that.
We bought everything on TJ’s list except for the yogurt (which he eats everyday anyway) and garbage. I did mean to gift wrap up a packet of yogurt on the day of and give him but forgot. Oh well…He got the garbage truck, puzzles, and Cars stickers. As for the garbage, he had lots and lots of that from all the wrapping paper. His favorite, of course, was his garbage truck – the Green Toys Recycling Truck
We bought Baby E a Hohner Kids 8″ Mini Rainmaker and a Fisher-Price Shake ‘n Beats Tambourine,
which are both very baby-friendly (the tambourine has an unbreakable mirror in the middle and the rings are all plastic) and which she actually enjoyed playing with for a few seconds. Because she was mostly interested in her brother’s toys and all the wrapping paper around her, in the end it would not have mattered what we got her anyway.
The kids also got presents from their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Lots and lots of them. I took a lot of pictures of the kids with everything celebrating Christmas including those with a reluctant model or Santa’s Little Helper.
I am not very big on the usual pictures that are taken with Santa though. While I see the fun of it, E does not care yet and TJ does not like to cooperate with that whole fake staged picture-taking or he is shy and wary of sitting on a stranger’s lap. I understand both his concerns and respect them. Last year, we did a Santa picture at our community center and we all just sat on a couch with Santa. I did not even sign us up for it this year. As it turned out, our Bass Pro shop had a free Pictures with Santa event that a friend told me about and that I eventually decided to go.
I was able to get a good picture of the kids with “Santa” who did not look too happy but was cool about it when Baby E tried to pull his (real) white beard. Ha ha…I am sure he has had other little ones do that to him too. TJ was very skeptical but saved one big happy smile for one of the photos and we were done! E wasn’t smiling in that one but at least she was looking at the camera and I was able to get her first pic with Santa. I don’t have to do these anymore. (I hope).
We had a really good first Christmas as a family of four. We didn’t do much of anything else and stayed in playing with our new toys, eating good home cooked food ahem..leftovers of home cooked food, and just chillin’. Good times!
(I was inspired by Ruth at TopFiveMum who experienced and wrote about her own first Christmas as a family of four. Ruth’s blog is really unique and creative in that she writes about her parenting adventures in lists of five. Really cool! Check it out.
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