Holiday Magic

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years came and went.  I spent one month working on balancing the stress of everyday adult life with the magic and wonder of the season seen through child’s eyes.  I made a decision at the beginning of the season, the day Alvin the elf (on the shelf) arrived at our home.  I promised myself that I would not let the stress of the season disable me from embracing its magic. I knew that, if I provided the opportunities, I would be able to see that magic reflect in the eyes of my four and one year olds. And I decided not to miss it.

There were plenty of challenges.  There was a six week period between November and December that at least one member of the family had strep throat.  Bubba got it twice, and I needed to go onto IV strength antibiotics to wipe it out because the Z-pac just didn’t work. And that was during parent-teacher conferences (as the teacher), where I was essentially working 12 hour days for two days straight and couldn’t get a break from talking (which is an absolute job requirement for me). So that sucked.

Plus, there was gift buying and ugly sweater parties and report cards. And we needed to visit Santa Claus and find the coolest Christmas lights and decorate Christmas cookies.  And none of the latter should be a chore.

So, I pushed through and checked out that reflection in those my kids’ big blue eyes. This is what I saw:

Alvin, the Elf on the Shelf

Though Alvin didn’t do anything crazy like sit on the toilet and poop Hershey’s kisses or zip line through the living room on a candy cane, he changed his location every day (mostly) and quickly became a like a member of the family. Rocketman began with daily conversations about what he would like for Christmas (a Batman helicopter).  But as each day was opened on the Advent calendar, his conversations became more complex.  He would share stories of the day, or run up and show Alvin his most recent craft or project.  while  Rocketman’s daily checkins with Alvin did sometimes  include tattles on Bubba that he assumedly hoped would be reported to Santa, overall Alvin’s visit provided a daily magical reminder of the innocent faith in magic that we all once possessed as children.

Bubba’s Obsession with Santa

Around 10 months, Bubba started talking.  By 12 months, he spoke about 20 words.  By 15 months, he had decided to stop talking.  And there seemed to be little progress as months went on. Bubba turned 18 months old two days before Christmas.  Suddenly, he is talking up a storm.

Most of his words have turned out to be seasonal: tree (“Oooooo! A tree, a TREE,” when he woke to find an undecorated tree in our living room), christmas lights (sounding more like, “hushus lights,” as he repeated his brother after passing every single house that displayed even a single candle in the window), snow (“so”).  But, beyond anything else, Bubba’s favorite phrase for the last few months has been: HO HO HO….MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! And he bursts out repeating this phrase over and over whenever he sees so much as a Santa hat.

So this was something that needed to be checked off the Christmas Magic list: a visit with Santa. Although we brought Rocketman to the local Polar Express train for the past two years, we decided to try something else this year, as to not take the magic out of the Polar Express.  Instead, we visited a local attraction, Edaville, USA.  The attraction included a train ride that crossed through acres of creatively themed Christmas lights, as well as carnival type rides and games.  The best things that we encountered there, however, were the giant blowup snowglobe that the kids could actually go inside of and play with pretend snow, and Santa’s village which featured scenes from the North Pole and lots of toy train activities and displays.  It also included a gift shop….and Santa Claus.  Bubba, who had spent the entire trip repeating, “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas,” finally had the opportunity to meet his mentor.

Upon first sight, Bubba’s interest was peaked.  He craned his neck and pointed and even squealed a little bit.  There were a few “ho ho hos” muttered and then it was our turn to sit on Santa’s lap.  We scampered quickly to his platform, trying to place children and then move out of the way in time for the teenaged photographer to take the overpriced photo.  Image

Cole was not impressed.

But I couldn’t help but to spend the $17 to remember this moment as to share and laugh about it in years to come.  It couldn’t have been that dramatic as Christmas has come and gone and Bubba is still walking around saying “HO HO HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!”

Rocketman’s Holiday Play

Have I mentioned how much I love love love Rocketman’s Pre-K teacher? She goes above and beyond in every area to give her students the best possible educational experience.  And for the last two months, Rocketman and his classmates have been practicing their play, “The Night Before Christmas.”  Starring Rocketman as “Prancer the Reindeer.”

Nana, Auntie, Hubs, Bubba and I attended the show, along with many other Pre-K families and it was quite the Pre-K treat.  A magnet that was supposed to hold a stocking with care malfunctioned and dear Ms. Ana had to run and fix it as the 4-year-old actors in PJs waited awkwardly.  “Dasher” the reindeer wheeled 5-year-old Santa in on a wagon disguised as a sleigh, took one look at the crowd, froze and started bawling.  He continued to do so as Ms. Ana scooped his rigid body off the floor and out of the room.  The rest of the reindeer (including Rocketman’s Prancer) gave star performances, scuttling across the floor on their hands and knees and then waiting patiently as Santa gave a command performance.  (By “waited patiently” I mean scooped up fake snow from the floor and threw it up in the air over and over again until it was time to scuttle out of the room.)

As an encore performance, the class sang “Jingle Bells” and “Feliz Navidad.” Rocketman stood right in the front of the group and his voice could be heard above the rest.  As he sang, “I want to wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heeeeaaarrrrtttt,” he swept his arms up like a V and then started dancing around lifting his shirt up and down.  Everyone laughed and I thought, “Pre-K holiday plays don’t get much better than this,”

Refreshments were served after the show, but we went to the local ice cream parlor afterward anyway to celebrate his performance.  The balloon man was there, and Rocketman had a hard time eating his sundae as he anxiously waited for the balloon man to visit our table.  When he finally arrived, he made a balloon giraffe for Rocketman and a balloon turtle for Bubba.  Before bedtime, we reviewed the fantastic, busy day and asked my nightly question: what was your favorite part?  Rocketman responded, “My favorite part was when the balloon man made me a giraffe and Bubba a turtle.”  Therein lies the simplicity of a 4-year-old’s expectations

Christmas and Christmas Eve themselves were full of wonder.  Rocketman is the best, most emphatic gift receiver ever and Bubba got a great kick out of it all, tearing open his gifts and saying “Ooooooooo!” It was great to spend time with family and we ate so much that I need to go on a sugar detox yesterday.

But, I am happy now, on January 3, to return to some sort of routine of normalcy.  I welcomed going back to work yesterday (though today I did not get out of my pjs thanks to a bitter cold snowstorm causing school’s closing) and am excited for Rocketman to go back to Speech on Monday and Pre-K on Tuesday after 2 weeks off.  As of today, nobody in the house is on antibiotics, though Bubba has a pretty nasty cough and cold and Rocketman a sore throat and runny nose. But I am so glad that I made that decision in late November, to embrace the season’s magic as much as possible.  Because it is evident to me everyday that these kids are growing faster than I can even understand, and if I dare to blink, I may soon no longer hear little voices calling out, “Christmas lights!!!” from the backseat or be met with the rolls of eyes when Alvin suddenly appears the day after Thanksgiving.  These are the short years of Holiday Magic and I desperatly need to embrace them before they are gone.

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