Who doesn’t love a good holiday? I mean, there’s food! I blame my excess pregnancy weight solely on my epic third-trimester Thanksgiving/Christmas binge eating. Other than the food, holidays are the best time to spend relaxing and unplugging with family. These days, that’s becoming more and more important (and fun).
Since I’ve “grown-up,” holidays are still awesome because I usually have some extra time off work to relax with my family. And while some of the holiday magic disappears in adulthood (Santa isn’t real?!), it’s now up to me to make sure the holidays are just as magical for Cora as they were for me and Zach growing up with our family traditions. We’re still working out which traditions and rituals will survive into the next generation, but I also can’t wait to forge our own traditions and write a story that will be uniquely ours.
Cora just missed Christmas this year. She was born on December 28, but I already can’t wait to celebrate next year with an almost one-year-old. She has celebrated New Years’s, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. While most of the new traditions this first year of life include taking adorable pictures, holidays have already changed in a few other ways, too.
Even at three months, baby rules the schedule.
Ever since Zach and I started dating, splitting up the holidays has been complicated (I’m sure you can relate). Luckily, our families live just about an hour apart, so we had it fairly easy. Sometimes we’d make sure to drive to both families in one holiday. Other times, one family got Thanksgiving while the other got the majority of Christmas. While it didn’t matter so much for New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, or St. Patrick’s Day, it went without much thinking that we’d be seeing everyone on Easter. Now, the families could care less about seeing Zach and me, but everyone has to see Cora. In the past, deciding who goes where and when was such a headache. And I’m sure it will be again in the future (life ain’t that easy), but having a 3 month old made it really easy to make everybody a priority. We both wanted her to spend time with all the grandparents on her first big holiday.
I’m more conscious of how I spend my time during and before the holiday.
Over the last decade or so of adulthood, I’ve approached holidays in a fairly laid back (lazy?) way. My mom took care of the heavy lifting, and I was just there for the fun! This year, while I’m fairly certain she won’t remember it, Cora got an Easter Basket (actually, she got three, but that’s besides the point). So while my mom was making her one for grandma’s house, and Zach’s mom was making one for Nana’s house, I of course had to make one for her, too! It was so fun to think of what she would like to have (no candy this year!) and play with over the next few months. And while her reaction to the whole ordeal was fairly subdued, I had so much fun putting it together as I already think about next year and how she’ll be that much older to enjoy it. And Christmas? Someone might need to hold me back.
I also really want to be more present on holidays. It was so easy in the past to go take a nap, watch a Harry Potter movie marathon, or play on my phone. While these are all perfectly fine holiday activities (ok, maybe a holiday is a good time to unplug from the phone, and I’m trying), I am also more intent on spending quality time with our family. We make an effort to go on a walk, put the phones away, talk, and play games. My time on holidays is no longer about me and my comfort or my relaxation, it’s about my daughter’s happiness, joy, excitement, and memories. While it’s only just begun, it’s all so worth it.
New and Old Traditions
Zach slept in a big closet on Christmas Eve (hiding from Santa, duh!) and I grew up listening to Bing Crosby’s I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. Our closet is nowhere near large enough for even the smallest of children, and who knows what sort of music Cora will remember listening to around the holidays. Some of our traditions will remain the same. We will go to Christmas Eve mass, mass before Brunch on Easter, and eat heavily on all the holidays. We will do Easter egg hunts, and read bedtime stories that remind us the reason for the season. And we will forge new traditions over the next few years. I couldn’t even predict what they will be, because I think the best traditions happen on accident. Christmas with a Christmas baby is making me a little anxious, but I think that will produce some pretty special traditions in our family.
Everyone is so happy!
This is the best part, truly. Everyone has their own stressors, aches and pains, and triggers. But with a baby around, they are so easily forgotten – at least on a holiday. We all just laugh when we realize that at any given time we are all just sitting in a circle watching a three-month-old stick her fist in her mouth. Way more entertaining than a Harry Potter marathon! While I’m truly exhausted from this little sleep regression Cora is putting us through, I’ve never been so happy. She makes everything we do, especially holidays, that much brighter. It brings me, and I’m sure my family, too, so much happiness to think about the ways we will spend our holidays over her childhood.
So aside from the adorable outfits and photo ops (which are crucial in their own right), holidays have changed in pace and in significance. I’m already so excited (naturally) for Mother’s and Father’s Days, Memorial Day Weekend (which has always been a favorite of mine), and Thanksgiving. While I never want to take for granted the everyday moments with my daughter (hence the lack of storage on my phone these days), I want to make holidays special in their own right. That doesn’t mean grand or exotic, but special because we are with each other and we are happy. That’s life in a nutshell, isn’t it?
How have holidays changed for you since having a baby? What traditions have you changed or started?