Last year I put up my first Christmas tree (as an adult) and attempted to decorate for Christmas, thinking Amaliya, at 17 months old, would care. She didn't. I still enjoyed basking in the extra light the gaudy tree lent to our perpetually dim apartment.
This year is different. I knew she would care, and I wanted to put in the extra effort to make magic for her. I dragged the Christmas tree and our box of tired, overused garlands out of storage. Since funds are tight this year, I ran to the thrift store and bought 6 random bags of assorted Christmas junk for $15.
Which is why we have handmade ornaments on our tree that were not made by anyone we know.
I hot-glued stuff to an ugly straw wreath base and came up with acceptable festivity for the front door...
... ordered a $10 star from Amazon (a splurge)...
... and, with the addition of a batik stocking sewn by a dear friend, I called it good. Halls = decked. The two-year-old is overjoyed, fingers her stocking on the way down the stairs and says, "Mama, Santa Claus is going to be here!" That, friends, is worth every penny and hot glue burn.
I've written before about how we struggle to find a sense of Christmas spirit, and how, little by little, we are carving out our own traditions as a family. This year Amaliya is older, and it's all starting to come together for her. We've been checking out Christmas books from the library, and as a result she is thoroughly enamored of snowmen, Santa, lights, sleigh rides, jingle bells, the Christian Christmas story, candy canes, and sparkly trees. She has a little book of Christmas carols and knows them all by heart. She's made it worthwhile, all the effort that goes into making memories this time of year.
Behold! My childhood works of art. The 3rd grade (4th?) pumpkin-seeds-on-a-pog poinsettia, the 4th grade (5th?) beardless Santa star. The 1st grade silver and gold macaroni masterpiece that I was (hell, am) so proud of. We may or may not bake Christmas cookies, we may or may not leave treats out for Santa, but I was determined that we would start an ornament tradition of our own this year, so that Amaliya can accumulate her own stash of sometimes-weird, sometimes-gross, often-nonsensical treasures to adorn her adult Christmas tree one day.
So we did!
If I've learned anything over the years, its that you don't become a family instantly when you get married, or when you push out a baby. Forming and solidifying familial bonds is a continuous process of accumulating, amalgamating, taking all your random bags of junk and hot-gluing them into something new and beautiful and uniquely yours.
I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season, whatever you celebrate. Go out and make memories!