Making Sense of the Season with a Three-Year-Old (who’s really two)

christmas picturesThis is a picture of me taking the picture to go in our Christmas cards this year. I didn’t put the picture we chose up here because if you are a real, flesh and blood friend or relative, I will send you one and I want you to be surprised. It is RIDICULOUSLY cute!

Laylee loves Christmas so very much. I’m going out on a limb here but I think she loves Christmas even more than she loves her birthday, maybe even more than she loves Ducky. I know, I know. That could be taking things too far.

This is the first year she really really gets it. (we said that last year and I’m sure we’ll say it next year, but the point is, she gets it more this year than she has in the past.)

She’s stopped calling Rudolph Bambi and if you ask her what Christmas is, she’ll say, “It’s Jesus’s Birthday.” Then she will probably ask you for some cake. What’s a birthday without cake? (I have promised her that on His actual birthday we will make a beautiful white cake to celebrate, something my mom did every Christmas when we were kids.)

What I’m struggling with is striking a balance between the excitement and fun of all the celebrations that surround Christmas and the meaning of Christmas itself.

The world largely views Christmas as a time about Santa and snowmen, candy and presents. I want to teach my kids that all of these wonderfully fun celebrations have a root in something much more satisfying.

A log of a couple of my attempts to combat Christmas commercialism while still “putting the cookies out for Santa”:

-Handel’s Messiah sing-along in our living room today. I do a really sweet Tenor on that chorus that sounds like they’re saying “Oh WE LIKE SHEEP.” Picture me singing in a man’s falsetto “have gone a-stray-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay.” Nice.

-I try to explain about the symbolism behind things (candy cane=shepherd’s crook, Santa~charity, love and giving, Rudolf=I don’t know who came up with the glowing Rangifer tarandus etc.)

-One empty clear ball hangs on the tree. We explain that it is full of the Spirit.

– We have a little carved “wiseman box” and each year on Christmas Eve we each put one “gift for the Savior” in the box. It’s something like a resolution, something that would make Him happy. It’s Laylee’s first year to do this and I’m sure it will be something like, “Keep my panties dry for seven days so I can go to CHUKEE CHEESE!” but I’ll let her decide. I’m sure that would make Him happy too.

-Her favorite bedtime songs are The Angel Song (Angels we Have Heard on High) and Silent Night (and the “Turtle Song” but we won’t talk about that…not here…not now…not like this).

-Loveable, suckable nativity insures that she knows the names of the Holy Family and their posse of worshipful friends before she learns the names of Santa’s Reindeer.

christmas nat

…I know there are more and maybe I’ll post them when my brain returns. Has anyone seen it recently? It’s grey, bumpy, smallish….

Oh, here’s an outtake from last year’s Christmas card photos.


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10 Responses to Making Sense of the Season with a Three-Year-Old (who’s really two)

  1. Mom says:

    I love that you are concentrating on the real meaning of Christmas while still allowing for the fun parts of the season.

    A couple of ideas you may want to try as they get a little older are: #1 The empty manger that only gets 1 piece of straw for each good deed or kind word. Remember how you kids would do ANYTHING to put a piece of hay in the manger so that the baby Jesus wouldn’t clunk his dear little head? That changed the whole feeling of Christmas in our home. It became more about doing and giving than “I want” and “Gimmme, gimme, gimmie”. It was also pretty nice that the first thing you saw on Christmas morning was the little baby, who had magically appeared in the manger in the night.

    #2 The advent calendar with a different family activity for every day. It gave you children something to look forward to each day instead of having the whole month be a major anxiety attack for the main event. They were mostly things we were going to do anyway, but it provided a focus for all the pent-up chidren’s energy.

    You are the greatest. Hang in there and have a wonderful fun month!

  2. Kathryn says:

    I love your blog…saw the link on Two Talent Living…very funny…I can relate, I have an almost 4 month old…and we have a Magoo too, but she is an octopus…
    Another Kathryn

  3. Karen says:

    I love these ideas. Well said.

  4. blackbird says:

    -One empty clear ball hangs on the tree. We explain that it is full of the Spirit.

    I love this one…

    As a woman who used to put a blue towel on her head and be Mary, I am hoping you will show us the final photo sometime after Christmas, yes?

  5. Brooke says:

    What a huge dilemma, keeping the real meaning of the season real, and it gets harder as they get older, I’m afraid. We’ve started a new tradition this year, and it is so special…

    I had a ball putting all the ornaments together, and my kids are very into it.

  6. Heather says:

    Can I please, please see the real photo? 🙂

  7. Stephanie says:

    I think it is important to focus on the true meaning as well.

    We also do the Jesus gift in a box.

    And do you know what all the Christmas symbols are? Will you tell them to me?

  8. Moonface says:

    i am not a christian, but i am a deeply religious person. i so admire your decision to teach your children the true meaning of christmas. that is what it should be about, rather than focusing entirely on all the santa and pressies malarkey. on of my church-going friends said to me the other day that she most associates chirstmas with shopping. i think thats terrible.

  9. RGLHM says:

    I totally remember that picture of Laylee from last year. I couldn’t get over how CUTE she was. I better send you my new address so I get one this year.

    Also your efforts to focus on the true meaning of Christmas has totally encouraged me. Gonna use your ideas.

  10. Suzi says:

    That is just such a cute picture. After Christmas can we see the outtakes from this year’s?

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