Life has returned back to normal for our family after six weeks of holiday festivities. Multiple Christmas trees, dinners, decorations, presents and of course, baking. Growing up, I remember my mother’s Christmas baking—Dutch traditions such as olibollen (dutch donuts) and thai-thai. So, I was so excited to start introducing baking traditions to my children. My children are three years old and nine months old, so not sure what my expectations were but something that looked like this:
This is what I got instead:The Reality
My son is now at an age when holidays mean something. When he was two years old, Halloween was a confusing time of dress-up and random gifting of candy. I remember being so excited to carve a pumpkin with him and discovering he was terrified of the “guts of pumpkin”. Halloween tradition denied! But, this year we carved multiple pumpkins, baked seeds and debated the merits of various Halloween costumes (Marshall from Paw Patrol won). I dare say that Halloween was…magical? If Halloween turned out so well, I could only imagine what Christmas would bring me!
Immediately after Halloween, I began researching events and activities for the family. Victoria is overwhelmingly festive. By November 15, I had created a detailed calendar including crafting, parades and music. By November 22nd, we had one Christmas tree up and decorated. By December 1st, the Christmas light-ups had started and December 3rd, we were standing at the Helmcken overpass watching the lighted trucks in the pelting rain. And by December 15th, the family and I were literally sick of Christmas. Four days later, I was in the emergency room with my eight-month old baby who was having troubles breathing. She recovered quickly and Christmas resumed once again. But, the joy of Christmas had now become the expectations of Christmas. I had made my list, checked it twice and damn it all, we were going to be jolly!
When it came time to decorate the gingerbread house, I was too lazy to actually make the gingerbread dough myself so I was pleased when Starbucks was selling gingerbread coffee shops. How efficient—get my coffee and a gingerbread house. My son’s friend was over for the week and they were so excited to start decorating. Five minutes later, they had eaten a bunch of candy and were running around, pretending that a decorative nutcracker was a gun. The next night, they wanted to decorate again so I pulled out the house. They each placed two candies, ate about seven themselves and got distracted. By the third night, I conceded defeat and the house just stayed on the dining table as a decorative centerpiece and conversation starter. Not quite the Christmas tradition I had in mind!
I am starting to let go of my expectations and realize that my son has his own ideas of how to enjoy the holidays. They seem more spontaneous, easier and frankly, more fun. I think next year I will just give him my credit card and let him plan Christmas. What is the worst that could happen?