Ah, nothing conjures the Christmas spirit like your 2nd grader's drawing of a snowman walking his snowdragon.
My kids' elementary school has had a holiday shop where they can buy a little gift for a sibling, parent, grandparent, etc. Using that for inspiration, several years ago we started the tradition where my son and daughter are encourage to give a gift to each other, to Mommy and Daddy and to close family.
Most years, they make a gift - anything from a card to a drawing or whatever they come up with. When I'm really ambitious, a keepsake craft (like a handprint angel) is given to the grandparents at least. It's more about the child thinking about the other person and putting some creativity into the idea.
Each year, I am amazed by the thought and care and pleasure they have. They're still normal kids and still go on and on about what they want for Christmas, but they also seem to really enjoy giving and seeing how people will react to their gifts.
This year, I was surprised that on their own, my 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son hid in my daughter's room and spent hours making and wrapping gifts for me and my husband. They were so proud of what they had done. I still don't know what they made but I'm excited to find out.
We also plan to make a few special items for family and teachers - inspired by some great ideas on Pinterest. Sometimes our crafty gift ideas don't work out as planned, but I love spending this special time with them and have really enjoyed the smiles they have when they hand their presents out. They may never say it's bettter to give than to receive but at least they're having nearly as much joy in giving as getting.
What are your holiday traditions?
So my 10-year-old informs me this morning that she caught Daddy trying to slip her some money as the Tooth Fairy last night. And then said she's kind of known for a while as she's apparently caught Daddy before, lol.
I said, "Well, you hurt yourself because now you're not getting anymore money."
She glibly replied, "But what about my brother? He's going to notice if I don't get money from the Tooth Fairy."
I said, "So I have to buy your silence now?"
Oh and then she told me that apparently I did a bad job hiding leftover "Easter Bunny" items last Easter. I said, "Do you see how small this house is? Where am I supposed to hided stuff?"
On the way to school. She asked, "When were you going to tell me about all this stuff? About no Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy and Santa. I need to know these things for when I'm an adult and I have kids."
I told her she needed to discover it on her own; I didn't want to tell her when she still believed and ruin it for her. I also told her that I still believe in Santa, as the Spirit of Christmas. I told her that for me, Santa is the embodiment of that feeling of giving and hopefully wanting to be a better person, a more considerate and generous person to others.
Despite our humorous exchange this morning, I'm a bit bummed that she no longer believes in all these magical creatures. I knew the day was coming, but I feel in a way she lost something - that childlike sense of wonder. That belief and awe in magic. It seems especially difficult in this age of electronics and social media to keep kids in a bubble. I guess it was nice that she lasted as long as she did - for Santa until about 8 years old (we figured last year at least she said she believed in Santa to hedge her bets and possibly get more gifts - to which she admitted this morning, lol).
But I still have another kid who still believes so I'm going to hold on to that for a while and enjoy it. And I told my daughter if she ruins it for him, she's in big trouble!
How did your kid find out?
I love my kids dearly but there are some days I wish I had a nanny, a housekeeper, a chef and a masseuse, but I'll have to make do with Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream tonight.
Bedtime with my nearly 2-year-old son has been excruciating with him not wanting to be cooped up in a crib. Hmm. I wonder why he's suddenly opposed to be shut away from throwing toys all over my house in a bed with bars around it. And tonight, like the past several nights I closed the door and tried to ignore the angry screams.
With his screams still echoing down the hall I noticed the strong smell of nail polish. My 6-year-old daughter wanted her nails done and I said after her brother was in bed, which apparently meant the second his feet touched his mattress. Unfortunately, she didn't wait for me and ended up dropping nearly an entire bottle of hot pink nail polish all over the bathroom floor. And, of course, I don't have any nail polish remover. Or that nanny or housekeeper.
The one stroke of luck I have is that after using Soft Scrub with bleach and a scrub brush, the floor beings to look less like a crime scene and now I have one really clean spot on the floor. But I don't have much time to enjoy my victory over the garish nail polish as I finally take a look at my daughter who has streaks of nail polish all over her legs and hands (from the spill and her fevered attempt to clean it).
For a little splurge, I gave my daughter a small ice cream cone and she asks, "How come there are no sprinkles like at Grandma's House?"
And I said, "I don't have any in the house, but you know, that'll be what makes going to Grandma's house more special."
And without hesitation, my daughter replies, "And that's what'll make our house more boring."
I'm lucky that my daughter has only had a fever over 101 twice in her nearly 4-year life. Last week was the second of those times. Over the weekend, she was feeling a lot better and the fever had finally broken and we were discussing how she was sick.
At one point, I said, "I was a little worried about you because you were sick and you never get sick."
And she said, "Then you should've sent me a card."
Ok, Miss Manners. I guess next time I'll have to.
Justin with local girls who donated bears
Justin Martin stuffed the 1,000th bear at 5:50 pm tonight.
My daughter and I watched as his Dad took photos to mark the occasion and we joked that this bear should have a name, even though his distinction would end once he was packed up with the rest of the bears to be distributed to sick and needy children throughout New Jersey.
I suggested Bear, since that was the name of Justin's original stuffed toy which inspired him & his dad to create The Justin Charity Bear Fund in the first place. His dad recommended Bear II.
Well, it doesn't really matter what we call that bear because some child out there will give it a new name. And that's what the hundreds of hours have been all about: ensuring that children have their own stuffed toy to love and cherish this holiday season. Justin was able to do that for 850 kids last year and this year he's going to do it for 1,000 - and counting. This remarkable 7-year-old is planning to continue stuffing bears as long as there are donations.
My daughter helped stuff several bears tonight but she is still a little young to grasp the full scope of what she was involved in but I think over time she will understand and I'm glad she was able to help, even in a small way.
So my daughter says to me, "Mommy, you can be a princess today!"