Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Great Expectations

While I try to never let myself get too excited about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, this year I'm having a bit of a hard time. I'm not sure if it's the plethora of Christmas stuff around already (though, admittedly, I get nauseous when I walk into a store and see it), or if it's because I've already got a few of Jacob's gifts done, or if I'm just that darn excited about this year, but yeah...part of me is hoping the next few weeks go quickly and we can get the Christmas show on the road.

I keep trying to tell myself that Christmas = Stress, because inevitably, I know it does. No matter how much I try to savor Christmas, by the end of it I'm always just a tad bit happy it's over. I suppose I liken it to having a child. It's a ton of work and lots of stress, but in the end it's fun and rewarding and I wouldn't give it up for anything. And I keep hoping that this year, Jacob will really enjoy it. The dark side of Christmas is that Jacob has entered the "I want" phase. He wants everything. Well, unlike most kids he's not paging through the toy catalog, but he wants pretty much every piece of sporting equipment you can imagine...even if he already has one or won't have any real use for it for a while. He wants skates, a helmet, gloves, both hockey and lacrosse goalie sticks, and who knows what else. And while I'm sure he'll love the gifts we have for him (including a net, which he's also been asking for), I'm a tad nervous we'll get through Christmas and he'll start asking about all of the stuff he didn't get. For a while now we've been using Santa--both to improve behavior and to push off his requests (i.e., "Maybe Santa will bring that to you if you're a good boy."). Not too sure how he'll feel about Santa when many of his wish list items don't show up. Hopefully he's too distracted by what he does get to care.

And while I do look forward to him opening his gifts now that he's a little older than last time (not just last Christmas, but his birthday as well), there's so much more beyond that that I'm excited about. I'm excited for him to finally notice Christmas decorations as we drive around the neighborhood. I'm excited to decorate our new house (with a real fireplace!) and see what Jacob thinks of it all (though hopefully he'll keep his hands off!). I'm excited to use some sort of Advent calendar or some other countdown like the paper chains we used to make as a kid. I would love to make Christmas cookies or even the same cinnamon ornaments I made last year and let Jacob help. I also hope to go to some sort of outdoorsy display, much like the visits to the Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls when I was young. There are so many fun traditions that go with Christmas, and I hope to introduce Jacob to as many as possible so his Christmas seasons are as enjoyable as mine always have been.

I know that his experiences at daycare will play into that as well. I think some of my best holiday preparation memories came from school. I loved making a paper chain every year, making gifts for my parents, our class Christmas party, and even to some degree, prepping for our Christmas programs. That tended to be boring, but at least we got to miss classes for it! Rehearsal for our Sunday School program first thing on Saturday morning, though, which was not so fun. Still, the activities all centered your mind on the holiday, and whether they got you thinking about the true reason for Christmas, or the act of giving, or just the plain fun of it all, it all added up to make Christmas more than just a day. As much as we loved Jacob's old daycare (and still miss it!), one thing I didn't love was that they weren't into the stereotypical holiday projects. No paper pumpkins, no tinsel-decorated paper tree. Projects may have been seasonal, but they weren't the stereotypical stuff that I did as a kid. And I sort of wanted that paper pumpkin. This daycare does do those sorts of things, and this year I'm interested to see what projects Jacob brings home for Christmas...and I hope he understands why he's doing them. It's all part of the experience.

Speaking of Christmas programs, I do look forward to Jacob going to Sunday School and getting involved in those. I always worried about what would happen if we went to a church like the one I grew up in, where the big Christmas program was on Christmas Eve. Even though I absolutely loved being able to enjoy that program on such a special night (I still miss that and the candlelight service that followed it), I often wondered how it would work with all of our traveling and family commitments. We're never home on Christmas Eve anymore, so would Jacob miss out? Thankfully, our church does it earlier in Advent so we should be all set. I can't wait to see him up there, hopefully singing like an angel...and hopefully not being the kid who runs off with Baby Jesus, downs some scenery, or screams bloody murder. We have a year or two before we see which, though.

I just hope to see some wonder in his eyes, assuming he slows down long enough to take it all in. And perhaps that's good advice for me as well. Here's hoping...

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