Ho Ho Ho! As Christmas approaches there are millions of first time parents dressing up baby in Santa suits and cropped hats. The whole thing is just too cute to resist. Next comes the eager shopping, finding the latest and greatest baby gadgets and toys to wrap and place under the tree in the frenzied anticipation of Christmas morning. You are probably reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ at bedtime and forcing them to sit in their bouncy seats watching ‘It’s a Peanuts Christmas, and of course the old favorite ‘A Christmas Story.’ You may even wonder why they are crying. Perhaps a tear comes to your eye as you imagine giving your son his first gun or your daughter her first baby doll on Christmas morning. Like a kid, you just can’t wait to lay out the cookies and milk so you can start sneaking around the house ready to whip up some Christmas magic for your child’s first Christmas. Then the let down!
The one Christmas morning that you may have actually been able to sleep in is ruined when you wake the poor baby up early just to see what lies beneath the tree. Of course forcing them to open the presents, which you put so much thought and money into, takes forever and it is disappointing to say the least. They are much more interested in the wrapping paper and bows than they are the gift. When you do finally unwrap one they like, the toy company has fastened it so tightly in the packaging that it takes an hour to get it out; in which time your baby has lost interested in a hysterical fit. Now you see why parents fight on Christmas day. After all, patience is neither a wife’s nor a baby’s forte. All the while, your baby is looking up at you wondering what in the world is going on and wishing you would take that tree out of the living room so they could have their play space back. Suffice it to say, parents put much more into a child’s first Christmas than necessary and considering that they will not remember a bit of it in the years to come, all the hubbub is more about getting a few good pictures than anything else. You will realize in hindsight that this was the one Christmas you could have taken that sultry beach vacation, escaping the hysteria of the holidays BUT you blew it by being overly excited to share Christmas with a baby. Hindsight is always 20-20!
Five years from baby’s first Christmas you will be scratching your head in your underwear watching this same child blow through 20 presents without giving much thought to any of them. He might even complain or whine about what he didn’t get or make some comment only a child can, that makes you wish you hadn’t spend a dime. Since they refused to go to bed the night before in frenzied anticipation of Christmas morn, you were up until the wee hours of the morning recreating Christmas magic and now you are tired. Then, there’s family, church and all the other things that you are expected to do on Christmas morning and getting your child to leave the presents seems like a cruel twist of events. For you and them! You and the family are buckled in the car, dressed in stuffy clothes that itch and your mind may start wandering back to your child’s first Christmas’.the day you could have taken that Caribbean cruise!
Unfortunately, that is how it is with parenting. Parents today have the cart so far ahead of the camel, that mom and dad are burned out and frustrated before their children even enter school. Around the age of 10, parents today realize that there really is nothing to give their children because they have it all. Toys r Us came out with kid’s laptops this year and the age on them is 5 and up. There are plenty of 40 year olds without a laptop, but one for a preschool child is being marketed and worse, SOLD! Then we wonder why our children are the ways they are and why we are stressed out so much that we rarely enjoy the holidays. Here’s the thing! Child’s first Christmas while uneventful and maybe disappointing is just a hint of all the things to come. This is the time to start doing better and rethinking childhood. Every parent says they want their child to have a better life than they did and while that is a great goal, think about your Christmases in the past. Were they that bad? When you got your BB gun or first Barbie, you were thrilled to death and your parents probably kept the tree up Until New Years. You’re so sick of Christmas by Christmas you may start sneaking ornaments off the tree that day. When Uncle Joey got drunk at Christmas dinner and your cousins and you compared toys or sneaked peeks at Barbie’s boobs, you were having fun and living in the true spirit of Christmas! It didn’t take much to thrill or excite you!
It is certainly understandable why parents put so much into child’s first Christmas, but it may be a good idea to start thinking of it as Parents Last Christmas. Take the time to be grateful that you have a new baby in your life and even more importantly to celebrate your spouse and loved ones. This year, the baby will sleep in the car and you will find that there are plenty of people willing to watch him or her at your family gatherings. If he or she gets fussy, consider removing the gaudy dress or suit you adorned them in and hand them your car keys. After all that’s what they really want! This is the Christmas you get to finish a holiday meal without wearing half of it, do what you want to do whether it is see an R-rated movie or go bowling and one of the last Christmas’s that is about you and your spouse. Take a few pictures of your baby propped up in front of the tree, put tinsel in their hair and take them to see Santa at the mall if you are inclined to traumatize them; but don’t forget that your baby is just a baby. Next year, when you have a toddler, Christmas will start to get exciting for you and them. This year, let Christmas be about being grateful and being with the one you love.