Our sweet girls were 14 months old for Christmas this year. Although more interactive than last year, they still didn’t understand a lot. However, there were a few things we did that they seemed to recognize as being special.
1. Obviously the Christmas tree was magical. We didn’t have a lot to choose from, in terms of décor, with our limited budget and resources (evergreen trees don’t grow on the island :) ), but it was important to me to still have something. So I bought the cheapest artificial tree I could find, ordered some lights, and picked out some simple ornaments. Every morning the girls and I came into the living room and turned on the Christmas tree lights together. Throughout the season they spent hours staring at the tree and pointing to each ornament.
2. Candles on the table. The centerpiece I made for the kitchen table included 3 candles (and the store included ash trays for their holders, but hey it did the job!). We enjoyed lighting them every time we had a special meal: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and every Sunday in between. We pulled the girls up to the table with us and they loved to watch the flames flicker. They could tell something was different, special.
3. My awesome Mom helped me fulfill a dream of starting a Christmas book collection. She is an amazing Thrift Store shopper so I sent her on the hunt to pick out some books for us. She found 12 beautiful Christmas books, each one seemed to represent a different aspect of Christmas i.e. spiritual, musical, baking, snow, Rudolf, etc. She then wrapped them and sent them to us. So for the 12 days leading up to Christmas we would cuddle up on the couch and un-wrap a book to read just before bed each night. Then we read these books over and over again all season long trying to get as much use and familiarity out of them as possible. My hope is that something might jog their memory next year. My girls love reading books so this was pretty fun for them. Another bonus was that it got them used to opening gifts so that come Christmas morning, they might understand better what to do. It definitely helped!
4. While doing her Thrift Store scavenging (I tell you she is the champion of this!) she found another treasure: A Nativity story advent book. I think this was the best part of the season for the girls. The book consisted of 24 tiny 2-page ornament books. We would read the brief story and then hang the book on our tree. It was amazing to me how quickly they caught on to ritual. They would squeal with delight when we pulled out the book; would patiently wait while we read the 2 pages; and then would hold it up to the tree, dying to hang it up. Just for fun we would count up all the books we had read up to that point. Giving them more “tree time” and helping them learn to count.
5. An idea I had that I think may become a Heywood Family Tradition, was “Christmas Fort Movie Night.” I put Mason in charge of the Fort and he did such a fantastic job, especially for us with very limited resources (we don’t really have any blankets around here with our 80 degree weather and only have 1 extra set of sheets, but somehow he made it work!). It even included a fan (as it was a warm night), décor made up of our Christmas books we had read thus far, and mood lighting (some battery operated candles that my mom sent me. The girls LOVED them!). We ate homemade Pizza and watched Frosty the Snowman.
I love holidays, parties and traditions and often find myself looking forward to when the kids are a little older and we are able to do more. However, I still felt these simple gestures helped bring a little magic into our home for them and for us.
So I am curious to know, what else have you done to make things special for your little ones before they really “get it?”