Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

December 16, 2002

Baby's Third Christmas

Much ado is made about baby's first Christmas. There are ornaments, photo frames, special sleepers, commemorative diapers and all sorts of other products gullible parents like me can buy to mark the milestone.

The sad part is, baby doesn't care.

Lucy was four months old the first time Christmas rolled around. Nothing excited her, except the whipped cream on my Christmas dessert. She did smile very well for her Santa picture, though. Much better than Santa, who was either drunk or ill. He's practically asleep in the shot.

On Lucy's second Christmas, she hated Santa, possibly because he was awake, sober and extremely cheerful. She was indifferent to all other things holiday-related, except ribbons. Those, she liked. Not for her hair, of course. Just for tugging. And as much fun as ribbon tug-of-war is, it's not quite the Christmas-of-my-dreams I'd been hoping for since Lucy was born.

Christmas number three is finally here. Now that Lucy is two, she's finally old enough to celebrate more than just ribbons. And I'm finally getting an opportunity to create some Christmas traditions of our own.

Every family has these, more or less. Even Adam's family, and they're Jewish. When I was growing up, our family had quite a few. They were things we always did, even though some of them didn't make a whole lot of sense to me until now.

A favorite was going to Mass at 5 o'clock on Christmas Eve. Since it was the official children's service, there were a lot better songs. I also liked the idea of getting church out of the way ahead of time, so we could get straight to the presents on Christmas morning.

I'll always remember the Christmas Eve it snowed. There wasn't enough to stick, but as I came out of church, my head full of music and my heart full of anticipation, I looked up and saw sparkling white snowflakes spinning through a golden shaft of light a streetlamp had cut out of the night sky. Ever since then, that feeling of joy mixed with music, beauty and hope has been my standard for happiness.

Knowing the power of traditions in creating happiness, Adam and I set out to make some for Lucy.

Our first tradition is pure genius. Pure Evil Genius, anyway. We know that that the year will come when Lucy wants to try and stay awake for Santa Claus. So we've prepared for it since her infancy by taking a picture of her, fast asleep in the shadow of Santa Claus (a part played by our jolly friend Dave). When Lucy is old enough to understand the tragedy of just missing Santa's visit, year after year, we're going present her with an album full of these truly sad pictures.

We're also building her repertoire of Christmas Carols. A few nights ago, I was singing, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I made up some Lucy-specific lyrics. "You'd better watch out, Lucy. You'd better pee in the potty. You'd better go to bed on time for once, I'm telling you whyeee."

Lucy was not amused. "I don't like that song, Mama. Stop singing."

Christmas is more than just a holiday, it's a disciplinary tool.

A lot of people complain about the holiday season being too long. Thanksgiving to Christmas -- a marathon of forced cheer. Not me, though. Not this year, anyway. The fear of Santa's wrath has been an extremely useful tool against the terrible twos. All I have to do to get Lucy to put on her pants, or stop playing with pointy objects, is to mention the word Santa and combine it with the possibility that he won't stop by if she's naughty. Bam! She does whatever I ask without negotiating, saying no, or melting into the saddest set of tears you've ever seen.

I finally understand the power and beauty of Christmas for parents. Christmas isn't about the presents and the stuff. It's about something much bigger, much more beautiful than that: peace and quiet.

It isn't as pretty as a Christmas Eve snow flurry, but my heart soars just the same. And I'm seriously looking forward to telling Lucy about the Valentine's Day Pig and his distant relative, the Easter Bunny.


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