Elyse Lalonde has always called Saskatoon home. She started on the motherhood journey in the Summer of 2015 when she had her son. Elyse is a working mom, always seeking a fine balance in life with a busy toddler. As a MommyConnections “alumnus,” she enjoys socializing with moms and babies her son’s age. Elyse has always enjoyed writing and journaling, and hopes to share her experiences (good, bad, and sarcastic) with the online parenting community in Saskatoon.
The holidays are a fabulous time for many. Presents and family and food. You really can’t go wrong! What I enjoy the most is my time away from work. Because, mostly, I’m a Grinch and that’s what I think of first.
But I’m really not a fan of the trap that I and many around me fall victim to after Thanksgiving every year, where begins the shopping rampage in preparation for the end of December. Nevertheless, the last few Christmases have been more fun than usual, which I feel is a “trade off,” or excuse to go crazy.
Our son was 6 months old for his first Christmas. He didn’t really receive any presents from us that year, but from other people instead. All was fun and cute and all, until we ended up driving to emergency at 5:00am on the 25th because he had had Diarrhea all night. Like all new parents, you think the worst of any situation. Lo and behold, he was simply teething and swallowing all his excess saliva. He was well hydrated, and his usual playful self. The ER was quiet that peaceful morning, except for the sounds of baby babbling, cooing, and the occasional bouts of toots.
The last two Christmases were more fun, as our son was able to engage in opening his own presents (albeit more interested in the boxes and wrapping paper than actual presents). Aside from the very early wake up calls, we were in good shape and no one needed a trip to the ER. But last year I spent too much money on my son’s gift, and subsequently put way too much pressure on myself hoping he would like it… Key words here—pressure put upon myself. Did he love his gift? Yes, and he still plays with it to this day. Did he get copious amounts of gifts and toys from others? You bet. But this year, I’m doing things differently.
This year, my son has an intact memory and distinct interests in the world, and knows what is happening around him. The magic of the season is palpable to him, and the excitement leading up to December 25th has already begun. Toys will not be the focal point of Christmas this year. And I will tell you why.
The focal point of this month will be having new experiences, building memories, creating new traditions, and maintaining old ones at the same time. Seeing Santa, going on sleigh rides, baking cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, giving gifts to others, visiting relatives and friends. My goal is to share these new and old experiences with my son.
Often, setting the stage for a “happy” holiday can be really challenging. It comes with planning, coordinating with others, maintenance, work, effort, stress, finance and a budget (that often gets blown out of the water). Even if you “sneak away from it all” for the holidays, you still need to repeat the list above.
I think we hype up the holidays because we like the idea of perfection- of having the perfect gifts, perfect dinner, desserts, music and atmosphere that we remember from our younger days, when we were carefree, and when receiving presents from ‘Santa’ and family were magical. I see now what we, our parents and in-laws are trying to replicate each year; setting the stage for joy and excitement, even though one could argue that very little effort could be applied for the same end.
Sometimes people’s expectations are sky high, and I think if we lowered or redirected them, we would really take the pressure off ourselves and those around us. We don’t need to have multitudes of gifts, or turkeys, or Egg Nog (really, any Egg Nog with the “right” ingredient is just fine with me!) Although these things are nice to have, I think just taking the time to be with one another is truly enough to have a great holiday (whatever that may entail).
The one thing that stands out in my mind from last Christmas was time spent playing with my son on the floor; not with his new expensive toy, but the ones he already had (the irony is not lost on me here). Did I buy toys for him this year? Yes. Will Santa bring him a toy? Yes.
But the time spent together is what made the experience and the memory a happy one. Because at the end of the day, the time spent together with the three of us alone, and with our families is what counts. It is what has always counted. And this is not a once-a-year experience. It really is day-to-day.
In the rush of the season, remembering the intent of togetherness is key to a happy holiday. And checking to ensure that the online gift you buy for your child is in Canadian dollars, and not American… Lesson learned.