Like my mother, I personally break my neck trying to personally supply my children with a million twinkling moments of wonder and joy (perhaps to make up for my distracted not-so-joyful parenting the rest of the year). It's like I want each discovery to be a Price Is Right moment, with them shrieking excitedly, crying tears from the realization of how much they are loved. Not too realistic right? Stressful yes!
Then I had an epiphany that helped me calm it down! Helped me get things into perspective. I was volunteering in the dreaded Toddler Room at my church last month. Counting the minutes until the mommies would be back, I sat on the floor covered in their snot and engulfed by 6 babies tugging on me and sobbing, "up!". I was feeling a little desperate. Then I saw a way out. I saw a spider.
"Oh my goodness. Look at that spider! Where is he going?," I shouted in a voice meant to be fun but sounding more like a Disney Princess having a mental break down. Suddenly the tears stopped. 6 little frankenstiens lumbered closer to the wall where the spider scurried along. Six little fingers pointed at the spider In Complete Wonder.
"Hello, little spider!" I gushed. "You must be going to the spider park to play on the spider slide. Have fun!"
Once he was safely through a crack in the wall, the zombies turned to look at me, smiling and drooling. "wha was dat?," one outspoken toddler asked.
"It was Mr Spider heading to the park!" I stated, loving the incredible power the spider AND THE STORY ABOUT THE SPIDER held for them. For the rest of our time together, we (meaning I) re-told that spider story many times. Those toddlers were amazed and in full wonderment by that spider AND by the fact that a loving adult witnessed it with them and helped put words to it.
What does the spider have to do with me creating an amazing Christmas for my kids?
I need to remember that young children come complete with their own ingrained sense of wonder. In fact, we can protect that sense of wonder becuase we adults are oftern the reason the loose it and become the entitled children we fear. When we try to fulfill their every Christmas wish or allow them to see commercial after commercial for what they don't have...When we overload their schedule with too many stimulating days and not enough down time or talk in front of them about how other families have it better, we are personally reducing their natural state of wonder.
Instead of freaking out about getting my lights up, I can point out lights in our neighborhood, "Wow. look at the lights on that house! Do you think the daddy had to get on the roof to make them hang like that? What a treat for us who get to see every time we drive past!".
Or better yet, I can point out the changing colors of leaves (no sparking icicles here is So Cal) and say aloud, "look at how creative God is. He's making the trees leaves turn red so the whole neighborhood can be red and green for Christmas".
There will certainly be holidays in the future where I make sure to take my kids on an incredibly embarrassing caroling adventures. Or a day where we will make salt dough ornaments together. But while they are very young, let us all remove the items off our checklist so that they can keep their simple wonderment at the little things.