When I was a little girl, my favourite thing to do was to make Christmas for my dolls. I had a toy broom that I would turn upside down, decorate with a few ornaments, and call it our Christmas tree. When my babies were asleep, I would wrap presents in blankets and set them around the tree, carefully ensuring that everything looked just right. I never seemed to tire of this game, and I couldn't wait until I was a real mom with a real tree, real wrapping paper, real presents and real kids to make a real Christmas with.
Now that I am all grown up, I really haven't changed much, and being able to put on the real deal for my family is the highlight of my year. Each December I have the opportunity to feel like that little girl again, brimming with excitement and wonder and a desire to share her joy with those she loves. Sure, at that time, inanimate objects like my Cabbage Patch Kids and my baby, Laura, were the recipients of my efforts and never my poor sister, who was continually forced to play my husband and was treated no better than a slave. Thankfully, I have grown up, and now I have real kids to play Christmas with and a husband, who I do not berate and dictate, after learning from my sister that husbands don't like that and will eventually get even by throwing you off the top bunk. Eeeek! Some life lessons are really hard to learn . . . tee hee!
Infused with the enthusiasm of my six year old self, each Christmas I tend to go over-the-top, as I tweak our traditions just a tiny bit more in attempt to achieve ultimate Christmas awesomeness, and I think I have done it this year with our advent tradition. Ever since my kids were little, the elves would help them count down the 24 days to Christmas by leaving chocolates, small toys, or Christmas books for them each morning. As preschoolers, they would dart out of their beds and run downstairs to where their surprises were left. Each morning I would look forward to hearing the giggles and squeals of delight that would erupt from their tiny, chubby bodies. They would then spend the rest of their day trying to figure out how the elves got in and what they planned on bringing tomorrow. This was Christmas awesomeness, but as they got bigger, our advent tradition grew stale. Then four years ago, I discovered the Playmobil advent calendars, and since my kids were huge Playmobil fans, it was a perfect fit. Each morning, they would open a window to find a small toy, and although they loved these sets, I never saw the same twinkle of excitement in their eyes as I did when they were little. Yes, it saddened me, but kids grow up and traditions have to change. This year I began to stress about our advent tradition because Elliot has outgrown Playmobil and the only new set they brought out was a dinosaur themed one, and dinosaurs are no longer Avery's thing. Zoe, who has been getting small trinkets, make-up or candy in lieu of Playmobil for a few years now, was content to carry on this way, but I had no idea what I was going to do for my boys. Then, an idea began to unravel thread by thread in my imagination. I decided to buy a Star Wars Lego set for my boys and spread the assembly of it out over the 24 days leading up to Christmas. With some trepidation I launched into my plan. Poor Mr. Level-Headed had many sleepless nights listening to all of my doubts. Oh, do you think they will mind sharing it? Do you think they will get frustrated with it? Do you think it is going to work? Are they going to like this? What am I going to put them in? Can I break up the instructions and the pieces into 24 sections? Oh . . . oh . . . oh. . . .oh! Then finally, opening night arrived. I had found the most adorable Christmas boxes from the dollar store and I had, miraculously, devised a plan to break up the set into just the right amount of days ensuring that one boy did not get more men than the other (you would think I have a ton of time on my hands. . . sheesh!). Everything was set. I was so excited! In fact, I had a hard time sleeping that night thinking about how cute our advent set-up was this year and anticipating how the kids would react to it.
The next morning, Avery tiptoed into our room and whispered:
Mom, the elves came. Can I go open my box?
In my exhaustion over setting up and stressing over this year's advent tradition, I rolled right over and was about to drift back to sleep, when I heard Avery squeal and run into his room:
Elliot, you have to come see what the elves have done. Come on! We got Lego!
Elliot sprang out of bed and opened his gift.
This is so cool!
And they spent the entire morning giggling over the Lego figures they received that day and speculating on exactly what they would make in the end. In spite of how excited they were, no one could match the smile I had on my face that day. Christmas moments like this are what I have dreamt about since I was a little girl, and they are so very dear to me. My time as a Christmas Elf will someday come to a close, and I will spend my Christmas' enjoying the traditions my own children make with their families. I am sure I will enjoy that chapter of my life just as much, but for now, I am going to embrace my inner elf and celebrate the fact that Christmas 2012 has officially achieved the coveted level of Awesomeness to the Extreme!
Here's what the boys get each day:
This is what Zoe's advent gifts look like:
(Being all teenager-y, Zoe never erupts into giggle or squeals. . . this may have to be my Christmas 2013 challenge)
A pouty Scout because there are no presents for him . . . hmmm . . . again, something to think about for Christmas 2013
Early morning building:
What they have made so far:
Even Jaba the Hut agrees that this thing we call Christmas is pretty cool . . . tee hee!
What are some of your Christmas traditions?