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Christmas Decorating with Littles in Mind

The Christmas season is here. In my neighborhood, many homes are already strung with lights and other holiday exterior decor. Most doors are adorned with a wreath of some kind. My neighborhood seemed pretty tame during Halloween, probably to dissuade trick or treaters (in fact, we didn’t have a single one), so now it’s refreshing to see the lights. After a tumultuous 2020, I think we could all use a little holiday cheer, even if it’s in the form of tinsel and lights.

Without going overboard, we want our home to feel festive, especially now that we’re parents. We want our children to grow up with stockings hung with care, a Christmas tree brightly lit, and a couple of other decorations. It’s not a lot, but it’s just right for us. I want our children to remember childhood Decembers with fondness, like how we read the Book of Luke together in the mornings, how we decorate our special home for the holiday season, how the presents magically multiple under the tree, and the regular stream of holiday songs, both classic and contemporary.

Since Andy and I got together, we’ve accumulated several Christmas decorations. We are barely using any of it. Most of it was purchased in December 2016. We had just settled into our new home in Garland, I was very pregnant with Maggie, and being inexperienced parents, didn’t consider that the lovely colored spheres that decorated our tree, along with a few other personalized pieces, would be dangerously breakable once our littles were big enough to want to play with it but not big enough to recognize a Christmas tree is best admired from afar. We are foregoing the lights strung from the gutters and sticking to a simple and tasteful wreath on the door. In the past, we were able to have our tree positioned high enough for the kids to see and admire without being able to reach. With the layout and furniture arrangement that we have in our Annapolis home, it is simply impossible to have the tree out of reach.

I purchased new ornaments, examining each one, and asking myself, “How will my kids break this?” It’s a fair question. Maggie would one day make the most excellent of product testers. She could effortlessly show whether that product is truly child safe. I decided the safest option so the tree doesn’t look naked minus lights (it’s a child-size artificial tree with built-in lights) would be plush ornaments. What I like the most about these is if Maggie were to get a hold and chew on them, it’s like her chewing on a stuffed animal. We’re keeping the kids from playing with the tree. Maggie has been thwarted from every attempt to knock the tree over, but that doesn’t mean she can’t get her hands on an ornament from time to time.

Our 2020 ornament collection consists of a plush Santa, a plush reindeer, a plush astronaut, a plush shark with sunglasses, a plush drumming snowman, a stocking, a wooden Joy sign, a wooden holiday to-do list that lists things like bake cookies and wrap presents, a plastic leg lamp (from the classic A Christmas Story that we’ve had for a couple of years), a plush 2020 frame for me to add a family picture, a childhood ornament of Andy’s that shows him as a nine-year-old with his parents and brother, and that’s pretty much it. No ornament spheres. No tinsel. No ceramic ornaments. Nothing remotely breakable. Nothing with potential choking hazards.

Also, courtesy of our Plano Forisha cousins, we have a felt tree and felt snowman. Using felt and Velcro pieces, we sang “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” while we decorated the tree and snowman. The kids loved it! Our Christmas decorations, including a Little People manger scene complete with baby Jesus, and Christmas themed board books all allow them to experience the story of Christmas in age-appropriate ways. We even have a stuffed Olaf that the girls can snuggle when we’re hanging out in the living room.

Like Halloween and Thanksgiving, we’re planning for our Christmas to be intimately small with just the four of us. I plan on continuing some holiday traditions that we’ve done in previous years, including baking and decorating Christmas cookies as a family. I have Maggie’s keto cookie recipe ready to go. We’re going to skip visiting Santa for obvious reasons. We’ve only done it once. It’s not a regular tradition for us so it doesn’t feel like missing out.

After the craziness and uncertainty of 2020, what I’m trying to strive for as a parent is that feeling of specialness that comes in December. My children are too young to truly understand Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want them to have this experience. Putting up a tree, turning on some lights, listening to songs featuring jingle bells, family movie night watching Christmas classics, the smell of Christmas cookies and a roast wafting from the kitchen, these are the images that I want my children to experience and capture on camera. If we do this every year, they will remember and will feel a special sense of familial warmth when the air starts to chill.


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