Phew. I think my Christmas hangover is finally subsiding.
I’m not just talking about the random – yet strangely satisfying – combination of cosmos and Miller Lite. Sure, that is probably the main reason I moved slowly for most of Dec. 26. But mostly, I’m talking about the way my body needed to recover from the months of thinking of what to buy, where to buy it, who to buy it for, what to bake, when to bake it, who to share it with, and oh right, I’m supposed to be making all of this “magical” for the kid.
I hereby send a message to the Meg of 2015: Listen, lady. Don’t start Christmas shopping in September. I know you want to “get a jump” on things, but really. By Christmas Day, you’ll be so sick of Christmas that you’ll threaten to skip the whole thing altogether. Be sensible. Start on Black Friday like all the other crazy procrastinators.
I think I did alright, though. If you take away the constant wracking of my brain for new, exciting gift ideas for Ryan that I ultimately gave out to everyone else (evidently, people are tired of buying him dinosaurs), it really was sort of magical.
Actually, this might be the Christmas I dreamed of before we had Ryan.
Somehow, when you think about “having kids,” you imagine how magical the holidays will be with little ones running around. Their eyes will be full of anticipation and they’ll be desperately trying to keep their energy in check and the number of rude comments (“Mommy, I TOLD you to clean your car!”) to a minimum, so they can make it onto the coveted Nice List.
As you imagine all this, your brain kindly fast-forwards through all the years it takes you to get to that point. The Christmas where you’re pregnant but don’t know it yet (oops, wine), or the Christmas where the baby screams for hours despite all the guests who are waiting for dinner (oops, bad formula).
Christmas: Toddler Edition is a little more fun, but mostly in a we’re-amusing-ourselves-with-traditions-that-he-doesn’t-really-get sort of way.
By age 3, he finally understood the whole “Santa” thing. But he had no memories from the year before to rely on, so he was sort of taking our word on the whole deal as we started from the beginning: “So, there’s this guy named Santa and he wears a red suit…”
But this year, oh my.
He remembered it all this year. This was the first year I didn’t have to explain Santa. I was like, “Santa is coming soon!” and he was all, “Omg, holy shit!” (Or whatever the preschool version of that is.)
He remembered putting out cookies for Santa last year. He reminded us repeatedly that Santa’s reindeer like carrots. He understood that his advent calendar was about more than a daily chocolate fix. He got a video message from Santa, and I swear his face glowed for two straight weeks after watching it (and watching it and watching it and watching it).
He listened intently as I told him the story of each and every ornament — my condition for allowing him to hang them by himself (with perhaps a little help reaching the high branches and a few gentle suggestions about spreading them out properly).
While we decorated, we wore Santa hats and called each other “Christmas Ryan,” Christmas Mommy,” and “Santa Daddy.”
We decorated gingerbread cookies three times. We watched Rudolph, Frosty and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Polar Express. We read and watched The Grinch a disgusting amount of times.
We drove around, snacking on Christmas cookies and chocolate milk and gasping at light displays, “Look! It’s a Santa and he’s WAVING! Look, toy soldiers! Look, candy canes!”
We discussed the logistics of Santa delivering the gifts to our house, considering “we don’t have a chimney OR a log.”
And when he woke up on Christmas morning with a shy, hopeful smile … well, that’s pure Christmas gold.
Ryan was a four-year-old bundle of holiday cheer, and it was everything I dreamed of. It makes it all worth it. The preparation, the running from here to there and back to here, and the “oh my god, I haven’t gotten his teachers anything” moment.
Of course, just when I thought I had finally recovered from the whole thing, he turned to me today and sweetly asked: “Is Santa coming to my house again soon?”