Kelly the Culinarian: What I Learned During my First Christmas with Kids

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What I Learned During my First Christmas with Kids

I wrote this last year and stored it away for another day. It's crazy to me how much has changed since - new house, new last name, new happy life. As we're prepping for our first Christmas as a new family in our new house, it's interesting to look back at that delicate first season together and what I learned along the way.

If you asked me at 21 what 31 would look like, I never would have guessed it included a first grader and preschooler standing at my bed at 6:30 a.m. or asking me for good night hugs or working out with me while I run on my treadmill. I was blessed with an instant family when I fell in love with a man who had kids. I am learning fast on a steep curve. Sure, the kids being able to express what they need makes life a lot easier, but it also means they have opinions and feelings and wants and demands to contend with, along with emotions that are at times irrational, because they're still very much babies.
I had no idea what to expect out of our first Christmas, because while we've bonded, it's a family holiday they've never experienced with me. I wondered if they would be sad, if I would be enough. We wouldn't get to open gifts until a few days after Christmas, and had a lot of family travel involved as well.

All that said, Christmas with kids is the best gift of all. It's transformed the way I think about the season.

It is busy. It is stressful. It is precious.

Here's what I'm taking away from this year that I need to keep in mind for future years:

There are a lot of people to please. When kids are involved, everyone wants a share, because the holidays are really only fun with kids who believe. It's amazing to have family that is supportive, but scheduling can get confusing. I am very thankful for Google Calendars, texting and "if it fits, it ships" USPS boxes.

Together is more important that what is accomplished. We have two gingerbread houses on display. There are countless half-colored holiday pages and haphazard recipe attempts and started, but not completed, Netflix holiday specials. It doesn't matter. A Christmas bucket list is a set up for falling short. Make like Elsa and let it go.

Less is more. I worried significantly about if there were enough gifts under the tree. By the time we celebrated Christmas, the kids had opened gifts with two sets of grandparents and Santa already stopped at their mother's house. I insisted we go out and buy sleds last minute to add to the bulk. It didn't matter. They were excited about dollar store puzzles and magic growing capsules.

Packaging matters. Probably even more so than what is inside. I'm sure this will change as they get older, but they loved the little bows and strings around their packages, and probably enjoyed unwrapping as much as playing with the stuff.

Value is intrinsic. We were very deliberate with gift shopping, buying things on clearance bit by bit to spread out the costs. When they told Santa what they wanted (glowsticks and a Baymax doll), we bought those via Amazon. Fun fact: The Baymax toy sat untouched for three days post unwrapping, despite the excitement about getting it. A super sweet train set got very little play, while a stuffed animal has gotten a ton of mileage.

Gratitude is learned. We reminded the kids to Facetime their relatives to say thank you, but the oldest shocked me when she said we needed to finish our thank you cards the day after we did the unwrapping. And it's amazing how powerful please and thank you truly are. I found their thank you cards and drawings proudly displayed with every family visit we make.

What do you wish you knew about Christmas with kids before you experienced it?

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Oh Kelly, how wonderful! This brought a tear to my eye!

I do not have kids yet, but hopefully I won't have to wait too many more Christmas' before I can share in the joy!