December 25, 2006
This is your very first Christmas. Of course, you were here last year and we were all very excited about meeting you soon after the holiday. Last year, your dad gave you a little gift, with a label that said, "Dear Baby, Love Daddy. See you Soon!" That gift is an example of just how much we have learned since you came into our lives. For one thing, I have discovered that pregnancy is pretty much the easiest time of parenthood, which I didn't really appreciate at the time. Of course, pregnancy hid you behind stretching skin and a popping belly button. It is so much more wondrous to see you in full colour and three dimensions, without the aid of an ultrasound machine, to watch you grow and learn and watch. It is so much more fun when you squeeze your little arms around my neck, or cling to my sweater like a little monkey when I carry you on my hip than it was to feel you kick my ribs (which, since I had no idea of the pleasure of snuggling you, was still very exciting back then).
Last year, your dad gave you a little rust-coloured turtleneck onesie, which, coupled with the label, melted my heart and made me cry. The funny thing is that you have never ever worn that turtleneck. By the time you were of an age when we could bear to put anything over your head, especially any collar as tight as a turtleneck, it was summer, much too hot to wear a turtleneck and it was too small anyways, because you grew so fast.
This year, we have given you nothing (yet). In the weeks leading up to Christmas I felt very bah-humbug and concerned with other details (like trying to get passports for our trip in three weeks, and finding good daycare). I was questioning the value of Christmas, of giving endless material gifts to children already so affluent. It seemed like all a big marketing scheme, and I didn't want to succumb.
But last night, I found the old copy of The Night Before Christmas that I used to read every Christmas Eve, once I learned how. I felt like an important member of the family fulfilling that duty, and remembering that has brought some magic back for me. Also, watching your cousin Zoe enjoy not just the gifts, but the rituals and traditions that her family is developing. Now I feel bad that we haven't gotten anything for you, or even for each other. Luckily, I don't think you care right now. And it has made me realize that I do want to make next Christmas magical for you and every Christmas after that for as long as I can. Next year, we will begin our own traditions as a family.
Luckily, your other family members, your Grandma and Grandpa, and aunts and uncles have stepped in where we have failed. This morning you had a grand old time reaching into gift bags and ripping out tissue paper. In some ways you seem to be the perfect age for your first Christmas, because you love pulling things out of bags, playing peekaboo with just about anything, and opening and closing doors. You've gotten some wonderful new toys to play with. Except for the tractor with farm animals that makes farm animal noises and sings Old McDonald's Farm. Or at least, it was supposed to make noises and sing songs. I noticed that there was some oil or something on the toy, so I decided to wash it before giving it to you to play. I forgot that there was electronic stuff in it, and I submerged it and gave it a good soaking in hot soapy water. It was only when I pulled it out that I remembered. Grandpa tried to blow-dry the battery area but presumably there are other switches and wires running the length of it, which need to dry out. Hopefully it will work eventually, but in the meantime the family is having a great time making fun of me. No doubt this will become part of our family Christmas mythology, and will be one of those tales we remember every year, like the one about Grandpa cracking a rib trying to jump on a bucket of ice but refusing to go to the hospital because he was too embarrassed to explain how he did it, or the one when your daddy blocked the toilet his first Christmas here, or the time Grandma discovered Thanksgiving's turkey carcass in the oven.
I am glad you have joined our somewhat wacky family; the family that made your aunt and uncle take bets on their long drive up here on how long it would be before Grandpa would start talking about the wonders of plastic, or someone would make a fart joke, or I would start the little belly dancing moves that often punctuate my standing conversations. Apparently I did it the first night we were here, without even realizing it. Next year I'm sure they'll take bets on how long before I ruin one of your gifts.
I have made it clear to myself, over and over again, that I will never be a perfect parent. All I can do is my best, and hope that it is enough. I try to blame today's idiocy on the fact that when I woke up I discovered my glasses had been crushed by Santa after we went to bed. Your dad taped the arms back on but they are delicate and I spent about half an hour in a totally blurry world while he fixed them. It wasn't a great start to the day.
Anyways, you have moved on from your new toys to the cereal boxes in the cupboard, and you love having your family about. And the tractor toy will still be cool even if it never makes a sound again.
* * *
It is two days later. Most of your family have gone home and Grandma and Grandpa's house is finally quiet while you nap. My 30th birthday came and went, marked by a delicious carrot cake and blowing out the candles with a wish. You enjoyed watching your cousins play, in between
opening and closing all the doors and cupboards around this big old house. I have gotten new frames for my glasses, and these ones don't dangle by a thread of duct tape from my face while I change your diaper, which is a major plus. The only thing is they're pink and sparkly; they were the only pair at the optometrist's that would fit my old lenses, so I'm feeling pretty Barbie. Too bad your cousin Zoe's not around to appreciate them.
In the quiet few days before your Dad comes back to take us home, I'm hoping to visit some old high school friends and get you back on a schedule that has you waking up before 10 am and going to sleep before midnight. It has been a good first Christmas, I think.
Pictures will come when we get back to Guelph.
So, this happened...
13 hours ago