Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Excitement Builds...

I never thought Christmas could be more exciting than when I was a child. I remember not being able to fall asleep on Christmas Eve because of all the anticipation. As a teenager and young adult I still looked forward to Christmas because of all the great traditions my family kept going. Christmas 2004 was special because it was mine and Ed's first Christmas together as a married couple but it was also difficult because it was the first Christmas without my dad and everything was so different that year. At some point I guess as an adult Christmas became another holiday squeezed in a hectic life and work schedule. And then I became a mom...

Christmas in 2006 was our first Christmas as parents. Gabrielle was only 3 months old and looking back at the video we took of Christmas morning makes me laugh. In the video I act almost as if I expect Gabrielle to help rip into her presents. She couldn't even sit up by herself yet!! And then we almost expected some sort of reaction from her once the gifts were open. But it was our first Christmas as parents and was like no other Christmas before that.

The following year was so much fun. Gabrielle was just over a year old and did have the reactions we longed for and was able to rip into the presents. We went so overboard that year with gifts when honestly she would have been just as happy with one or two things wrapped beneath the tree. But Ed and I enjoyed shopping and picking out this and that for her. Once again we felt that anticipation we had as children ourselves.

Last year, while it was difficult because it was the first Christmas without Ed's mom and Ed had an insane work schedule, Gabrielle had more expectations for Christmas. She understood the idea of Santa a little more and the presents and the decorations. I think last year is when we really started making our own traditions and figuring out what we wanted Christmas to be for our family.

I never would have thought Christmas could get any better or that I would more closely feel what I felt as a child but I would be wrong. Now we have two little bundles to shop for - our complete little family! Gabrielle now has a little sister to share the excitement with. She talks to Samantha about Santa and Christmas. This week I took Gabrielle to Build-a-Bear where she picked out and made a bear for her sister's Christmas gift. I was so proud of her. While she of course asked for something for herself while we were there, she did such a great job picking out a gift for her sister and never once threw a tantrum or cried or anything when we left the store with a gift for Samantha and nothing for herself. For a 3-year-old that is a pretty big feat! Gabrielle is just dying to give the bear to Samantha already as well!

We are doing a couple of different countdowns for Christmas and each morning she asks about each of them. The enthusiasm and anticipation is building and building.

This is also the first year Gabrielle has made her own list. In years past she got what we thought she would like and what we wanted her to have. This year she was the boss! She looked through the toy catalogs we got in the mail and picked out her favorites. She "wanted" a lot but there were definitely a couple of items that became favorites. There are two items in particular that if Santa doesn't bring I know she would be absolutely heartbroken. A friend of mine who also has a three year old put it so well when she said "This is such an important year for their relationship with Santa." Of course I want Gabrielle to know the real meaning of Christmas and what is really important but right now for a three year old, whether or not Santa delivers the goods is key! And if that means Santa has to make a last minute, unplanned purchase then so be it.

Tonight as I tucked Gabrielle in bed I told her to get a good night's sleep because we have a big day tomorrow. Her response - "Yeah, it's Christmas!!" She had such a big smile on her face and a light in her eyes. It was seriously one of the cutest things I've ever seen. I had to break the news that tomorrow is not quite Christmas but that it would be here soon. She is about to burst with excitement!! Once again I feel that wonder and awe of Christmas that I had growing up.

I just know I will be up all night Christmas Eve, lying in bed, waiting for Santa and eagerly awaiting that little voice to get me up to see the gifts!!

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