I wrote a couple of years ago about the complicated relationship I have with Christmas. I was excited, that first year, for E.’s first Christmas. I was looking forward to starting new traditions with him, staying at home in our house, just our little family, to celebrate Christmas Day. Last year, after decorating the house with E., I noted that I couldn’t have anticipated how it was just going to keep getting better. Last year he helped me put ornaments on the tree, and helped me decorate cookies. Last year, on Christmas morning, he really ‘got’ the idea of opening presents, and I thought his heart would explode with joy when he saw the giant ride-on dump truck/fire truck his Australian Granny had sent him.
This year? We’re only at the 3rd of December, and already I know that this year is what I’ve been waiting for.
E. started asking to decorate the house for Christmas two weeks ago after we saw a Christmas tree in a shop window. We put everything up on Sunday (I won’t decorate before the 1st of December). He loved putting ornaments on the tree. He loved decorating his own felt tree that my Mum made for him last year (I tape it to the fridge). He loved the lights we strung up around the living room. He’s managed to delay bedtime and naptime admirably in the last few days by asking in his sweet little voice to “just look at the Christmas tree a little bit longer”. I had a brief moment of madness where I thought I should try to keep him from taking the ornaments off the tree before I came to my senses and realized that a) there was no way he would be able to self-regulate to that extent for the next month, b) I didn’t want to fight with him about it over and over again, and c) why shouldn’t he be allowed to touch the ornaments, to take them off the tree, to admire them and compare them and play with them? 90% were made by my grandmother out of felt, so they’re hardly likely to be damaged. Even if he (or the cats) pulled over the entire tree (which is only four feet tall), there are maybe two ornaments on the entire thing that could break. So we’ve agreed that he can take whatever ornaments he’d like off the tree as long as he’s gentle with them and puts them back before he goes to bed.
He’s been asking to watch the videos from last Christmas over and over again. He wants Santa to bring him Lara bars, as that’s what was in his stocking in the video. He doesn’t want anything else (I wish every year could be this easy!). Every time we watch the videos I’m struck by how little he says, but how much he understands and manages to communicate. It is so easy to forget that this child only had a handful of words until late January this year.
I still don’t really think he has any true idea what Christmas actually is, but he’s beside himself with excitement over it.
He is having a wee bit of trouble processing it all- we had the strangest experience on Sunday night where he wanted me to read A Porcupine in a Pine Tree over and over again, which is a book of twelve days of a Canadian Christmas, but after the third time singing it I realized with horror that his lower lip was quivering and his eyes were filling with tears.
“E., are you sad?” I asked him.
“Yes!” he managed to get out, before bursting into tears, and hurling himself into my arms.
After a very long cuddle, during which he was sobbing so hard he couldn’t catch his breath and his whole body was shaking, we talked about it and it turned out that on the twelfth day the porcupine wasn’t in the tree anymore, and E. was worried that he had fallen out. So then we looked very carefully at the last few pages and talked about how the porcupine hadn’t fallen out, but that he had climbed down to go and get a watering can to water the pine tree to make it bigger so all of his friends (the ten Leafs a-leaping, eight Mounties munching, six squirrels curling, and the like- it’s a great book) could fit.
I *thought* we had sorted this out, but he was still awake at 11 p.m. that night, bursting into tears, and insisting on sleeping with the book in his crib, even though he kept worrying about what the porcupine was doing. He’s still sleeping with it (at naps as well) three days later, and wants it read multiple times a day, and he still gets tears in his eyes at the end. He also pats the porcupine gently on all the other pages every time we read it, as though he’s confirming for himself that he’s still there. I’m now wondering if maybe he’s worried that our tree is going to suddenly get big, as he also tends to regard it with suspicion after reading the book. Or maybe the decorating on Sunday was just a bit too much change for him to properly process. Or maybe he really is just worried about the welfare of the porcupine, dear, sweet, gentle little soul that he is.
Anyway, emotional crises caused by disappearing porcupines aside, this start to the holiday season has really driven home to me that THIS is what I was waiting for, during all those barren Christmases. THIS is what we’re hoping for again, with this IVF cycle, back in the trenches for a 2.0.
It’s going to just keep getting better. I can’t wait.