It's beginning to feel a lot like ChristmasHaving children has totally brought back the excitement of Christmas and the holiday season. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved it, even pre-kids, but here are some of the reasons it's going to be SO much fun this year:
1. Ethan LOVES Christmas lights!
I mean really, what kid doesn't. But when Ricky and I put up lights and garland and decorations all throughout the house last year when Ethan was still a baby, we half expected him to start talking when he saw them just so he could tell us how beautiful they were. Needless to say, that didn't happen. He barely paid any notice. We were kinda bummed, but held on to hope that his reaction to presents under the tree Christmas morning would make up for it. That was another flop. We were definitely more excited than he was - we actually woke a sleeping baby because we couldn't wait any longer. We plopped him in front of the tree and videotaped his (barely there) reaction. And when he wasn't quite getting how to open his gifts, we impatiently ripped them open for him (yes, I know, we sound like the kids in this scenario!) Much to our dismay, he fussed and cried the whole time. We just didn't get it - why wasn't he excited? Then we remembered. We were so wrapped up in having our first Christmas as a family that we neglected to feed the poor child all morning!
This year, however, Ethan's little eyes sparkle the second we flip on the switch with the Christmas tree lights. "Christmas!" he shouts, pointing with excitement. He loves it all. The tree, the lights, the ornaments, the stockings. All things Christmas. Hooray!
2. Seeing Santa Claus.
Aiden is a month older than Ethan was last year (I know...11 months apart...terrifying!) so he is smack dab in the middle of his separation anxiety phase. I don't think he was scared of Santa, per say, but I think it was more the experience of his mommy and daddy throwing him in some strangers lap and running off to try to get a picture. He cried the whole time - but we expected it. We just wanted a picture. Now Ethan was only mildly afraid of Santa this year. He cried at first, but then he just stared at him intently. It looked as if he was scheming to pull his fuzzy white beard.
With a little distraction, and what could be called a small miracle, we got a great photo in which both boys are at least looking in the direction of the camera. Neither one smiled (but if you just glance at Aiden wailing, it kinda looks like he's smiling really big...) Despite the workout we got (we were actually sweating!) and the looks from others waiting in line - we were quite pleased with the way it turned out and look forward to many more visits with Santa in the future!
3. Teaching my children about the TRUE meaning of Christmas.
We've been attempting the whole going to church as a family thing for a while now, but have decided to split the responsibility as it's almost impossible to get two kids under 2 to behave and sit quietly for a full hour (okay, 45 minutes if you leave after communion, but still). So Ricky takes Ethan (and still spends most of the time in the crying room - remember the library post? We're still working on the whispering thing) and I stay home with Aiden. I think God understands.
But Ethan knows that we go to church to see Jesus, to read and to sing. He will point out churches and crosses that we see when we're driving. And when Nana sent the Fisher Price Nativity set in the mail the other day, I took the opportunity to teach him a little more. We set it up and put baby Jesus in the manger with Mary and Joseph on either side. I told him the story of when Jesus was born and about the three wisemen. He loves to play with it and I hear him saying their names under his breath.
Okay, so he may not fully "get it" yet, but if he's old enough to start understanding that "Santa Claus comes down the chimney to bring presents and toys" (yes, he will say full sentences like that...and he's not even two yet!), then I figure it's also time to help him understand why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.
This year will be an extra special Christmas for us. Not only is it more fun now that Ethan is old enough to enjoy it so much more, but we have wonderful families with whom we will share the holidays as well. They keep growing and growing! The adults have decided to forego exchanging gifts between ourselves so that we can focus on the kids - there will be 6 kids at my in-laws on Christmas Eve this year ranging from just over two months old to 6. And the same goes for my parents on Christmas Day - 6 kids from ten months to 6 years old. How much fun will this be?!?!
But more than anything, it reminds Ricky and I of where we were a year ago and how far we've come. Last year a nine month old Ethan sat in my lap with my pregnant belly not giving him much room. We talked about how neat it was going to be to have two children, two boys, to celebrate this holiday next go round. We couldn't have been happier.
Then Aiden was born and our world was turned upside down. It certainly wasn't what we expected, and it took us some time to adjust, but here it is Christmas time once again. Our boys are both healthy and we're so thankful Aiden's surgeries went well. Despite it all, we've been able to turn our world right-side up again. And we couldn't be happier.