Thursday, December 20, 2012

Witnessing Christmas in Your Eyes

Merry Christmas, Padawan.

This is Christmas number three for you.

The first time you were three months old, and generally speaking I don't think you even noticed.  Sure there were sparkly lights and about a week straight of lots of extra people and yummy smells around, but you hardly had any context whatsoever and you did a lot of sleeping.  It was a joy to have you around for Christmas, but you weren't really experiencing the joy.

Last year you were definitely interested in the stuff around you.  You liked the tree.  You hated going to see Santa Claus (so much so, that this year I made your Mum take her turn to take you for Santa pictures).  You definitely got into the spirit of opening presents - including a few that weren't yours, of course.  But still, I don't really think you had a sense of Christmas.

All that has changed this year though.  You are still pretty unclear as to what Christmas is, but you sure are enjoying it.  You love wrapping presents.  I don't know if you've quite figured out that there is a consequent opening of them - it seems to me that once kids have that figured out, its all you can do to stop them from either exploding with anticipation or just giving in and opening them prematurely.  (I guess that is next year.)  You adore the tree.  Both of them.  You have your own little one up out of reach on your dresser in your room.  You've also enjoyed helping decorate Grandma Van's tree, and Karen and Mollie's tree.  You do a little bit of redecoration of our tree EVERY day.

You love the Christmas Market at Queen Elizabeth Plaza.  Mostly you like the carousel, but I think even if there were no carousel you'd still want to go in every time we pass it.  You and I have been there an average of twice a weeks since it opened.  I think we had our last trip there today - I don't know where we'll find the time in the next four days.

Yesterday it snowed and we went out into it to go and see the old Woodward's window displays set up around town.  There were a lot of Christmas trees too - you loved that.  The weather was pretty unpleasant, truth be told.  It was not a fun show.  It was a cold, wet snow.  Pretty much rain with an attitude.  It looked pretty in the air, but as soon as it touched the ground it was a yucky slush. Yesterday was the day hot chocolate was made for.  (You love hot chocolate.)  But despite the weather you loved it.  You were totally game and even when we had to double back twice to see displays we'd missed the first time, you didn't care.

You love wrapping presents.  You enjoy putting tape on things.  Never where it will be useful, but what's the need for that?  You also like drawing on tags and cards.  Note I didn't say "signing" - though I'm pretty sure that no one who gets a gift from you will have any doubt who they are receiving the present from.

You love "The Ginch" (sic) and also Rudolf - whose last name it seems is "Withyournosesobright," if one is to ask you.  You haven't asked to watch Shrek all month!

You have figured out that when Christmas comes you are going to get a whole day of "Nana, and Papa, and Grandma Van, and Karen and Mollie, and Tara, and K.C., and Mum, and Pop and December," and you are very excited by it.

You look forward to your Jacquie Lawson advent calendar (and your Lindt advent calendar, for that matter) every night.

Oh Padawan.  You have only scratched the surface.  You haven't even had turkey dinner yet or a New Year's Eve party.  And of course, the real discovery of the true spirit of Christmas, the gift of giving GETTING STUFF!

It wasn't really why we called you December, but you appear to be embracing this season with all you've got.  That's a good thing, 'cause inevitably you are going to be associated with it for your entire life.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It Has Been a Strange Week to Be a Parent

Anyone old enough to read this already has a rough picture of what happened this week in Conneticut.  So, as with most posts lately this is not for you, this is for December, my daughter.
I was looking forward to writing tonight.  I was planning to write and tell you about how you, December, are reacting to Christmas.  (It's pretty fun to watch.)  Perhaps I will do it later this week.

Your Mum has been sick this week.  Friday we sent you off to daycare so that she could get a full day of rest.  You are at an age where you are an inevitable handful.  Most of the time that is delightful, but you have no off-switch.  What two-year old does?

For my day I headed out the door early for work, looking forward to a day of news filled with reviews I expected to support my expectations of The Hobbit - beautifully designed, but why the hell is this slim book going to be 9 hours or so of cinema?  And for the most part, that is what the reviews have been... but by lunch I had noticed my first warning.  A single Facebook post that read "Turn it off.  Go outside."  It first I interpreted it as a run-of-the-mill, "don't spend too much time in front of the TV" manifesto.  By the time I began eating, scrolling through my feed, it was clear - something terrible had happened somewhere.  The specifics were then still forming, but the basics were clear - a young man had taken a gun into an elementary school and started shooting... children, adults, he didn't seem to care, but mostly it was children.  Young children.
It turned into a dark day pretty quickly.  I actually avoided anymore news.  I just wasn't ready.  I put out some angry words about the NRA, 'cause it was as close as I could allow myself to get, and forged on through my day.

Before I was a parent, I used to get so angry at the oft heard sentiment "unless you are a parent, you just can't understand."  It is a pretty condescending thought.  "WTF?  Are you saying I can't possibly have the depth it takes to reach that level of compassion or empathy?  Well, fuck you."  Well here I am, a parent.  What I am going to say is this; "Before I was a parent, I didn't have that capacity.  It didn't turn on the moment of birth.  It developed over these past two years - and has noticeably kicked in harder in the past nine months or so.  I'm sure it has more developing to do.  But yes, after I became a parent, everything changed."

When I picked you up from daycare on Friday, I gave you the biggest hug I've ever given you.  It wasn't the longest or the squeeziest, but it came from a place I previously did not know.  A place of immense gratitude that you were coming home with me.  That you would be safe in bed that night.  That you were going to have Christmas.  And, if you'll forgive me for being so willfully maudlin, that I can't imagine how I would manage to carry on if anything were to ever happen to you.

(NOTE from a year later - just for context, this post was written in response to the Sandy Hook shootings.)