This was our first real Christmas since Alexis was born. She was too young to understand gifts or the decorations or even do any of it safely before that when she was one, so we sort of skipped the whole Christmas deal that year and just had a Christmas dinner.
I thought a bit about how to do Christmas in our family. I was not ok with the whole Santa thing (some strange old dude bringing presents through a chimney? What?) but I couldn’t think of a way of presenting it all without segregating her from all the kins who will believe in Santa when she is a little bit older. There was also this magical feeling that I remember having about Ded Moroz (though quite different but a Russian equivalent of an American Santa) that I wanted Lexi to experience. All the books and media feature Santa Claus, so it’s pretty hard to get away from that. I wish I could have Ded Moroz who gives you presents at a party after you tell him a poem or dance or sing a song like they do in Russia, but it’s just not doable here.
Without much of our involvement, Alexis somehow picked up the idea of Santa from some Christmas books we read and we went with it, but didn’t make a big deal out of it.
The next issue I had was all the gifting on Christmas morning. It just seemed a little excessive to give that many gifts in one shot. I could just picture her tearing one package after another not really pausing to play with it or caring what it was. I didn’t like that idea. So instead I decided to do Days of Christmas and spread the majority of gifts over time with a few ones to be opened on Christmas morning. This worked out better than I thought, because every day she was so excited to come down and open another present and then she would spend the whole day playing with it.
So a few weeks before Christmas she would open one present and find a book or a small toy or something of that kind. Almost immediately we had her open one of the biggest gifts, because she could get great use out of it- the iPad Mini. Rather than strain her eyes and slouch trying to work with our small iPhones, the iPad gave her the opportunity to have her own space with all her apps and books and educational games without hogging one of our phones. ( For a list for some of the starter educational toddler apps, read this post). It also allows her to do more complex things like letter tracing and sorting or drawing when on the go.
The other few gifts were Daniel Tiger Neighborhood toys and books. I knew she would go crazy over them and I was right! This was the best money spent ever. She never played with plush toys, so I was iffy whether she would play with these, though I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t. If you remember the toys were what helped Lexi start going potty, they were the first ones to become her favorites ( as in carry around with her everywhere) and they still serve well. The books were huge hits, as well, and we are patiently waiting for new ones to get released in July and May. She makes sure she carries at least one of the characters or books with her everywhere she goes and often talks to them or shows off in front of them. The toys were sold out everywhere so I had to buy them in batches until we had the whole collection. Now you can buy the full collection here.
It was pretty much a choice between letting her in on the beautiful part of Christmas, decorating the tree, and protecting her from the horrible toxins that those decorations are covered in. We tried to strike a balance between allowing her experience the fun of Christmas decorations and washing hands frequently and teaching her not to touch the lights. Of course, that wasn’t always feasible, she’s a toddler in the end and thing like THIS (below) happened a few times before we were able to run up to her saying “Noooooo, sweetie!” (more than once but less than three times )
She really really really enjoyed decorating, so we let her. Then washed hands, then she would touch the balls again, we would wash hands after she was done and so on. She would also be really rough with the decorations at first and I showed her how to be gentle by putting my hand under the ball and saying “Ooooohhhh!” so she quickly picked it up and kept walking around saying “Ooooohhh!” to the balls. (See below).
She worked so hard trying to get the hang of the ball hooks and would do a little happy dance every time she would hang one successfully. We would clap and cheer and she would be so so happy!
I have just one more Holiday Photo post to catch up on which is the Christmas Morning and the gifts she ended up opening on Christmas Morning and I am done with the winter holidays.
In the time that I was absent there were so many things and photos that I have to share, along with all the other posts I’ve mentioned before. So it’s going to be a busy few months for me 🙂