Friday, December 22, 2017

A Tot-full Christmas

Christmas has always been a time to be in the constant company of family and friends. It's a time to share stories, laughs, food, and fun. Minus the traffic of Metro Manila, it's a season to give gratitude for the year that has been, to remember our loved ones who have come and gone, and to look forward to what the coming year has in store.

My daughter, the cranky one
Growing up, I had fond memories of Christmas. I have a very funnily chaotic family that made every occasion one that was worth eating and living for like there was no tomorrow. And when I married into my husband's family, I learned that his family (while more organized) was equally as energetic as mine. So it was for that reason that I was so excited for my first born to experience Christmas.

Asleep during gift giving
Our little girl was only two months old during her first Christmas. While I was extremely excited for her to experience all the traditions I grew up with, she was not. Although she was with us through our numerous Christmas parties, she slept through the gift giving of my side's noche buena and was simply too young to appreciate the act of decorating the Christmas tree, opening presents, family photos, and all other family traditions.

Overwhelmed at Ayala Triangle
Fast forward to the following year, she was little more than a year old. She had started to appreciate gift opening a little bit more, though she was more interested in the wrapper than she was in the gift. She had started appreciating lights, yet when we took her to Ayala Triangle for the lights show, she was a little overwhelmed by the spectacle. Nevertheless, she still enjoyed it, just not in the way that we expected. And while she awakened for our family's noche buena, she was really not quite into it. She was cranky all night long, or should I say all early morning.

While I would love to keep her small and a baby forever, I've come to realize that growing up has made her enjoy life even more. What a baby doesn't quite appreciate yet, she already does at two years.

My husband and I are grateful to have many faith families in our parish, as well as our own groups of friends. Because of that, Christmas parties have been in full swing, so our schedule has been all about seeing people we haven't seen in some time and catching up on stories. We take our little girl with us and we are happy that she has come to enjoy playing and being with her own set of little friends, our friends' kids.
Our faith family (one of)
Lights at Roppongi Hills
While we were in Tokyo, we took her to the street of lights in Roppongi Hills and she loved the view in spite of the cold. And as she receives gifts, we let her open them up already and she has begun to appreciate the gift inside rather than just the wrapper. We reinforce the need to say “thank you” when someone gives her a gift so that she grows up appreciating kind gestures from other people.
After decorating the tree

This year, we re-inducted her into our tradition of setting up the Christmas tree. It was such a joy seeing her so excited to hang a ball on the tree. We also introduced her to the tradition of saying a prayer then lighting up the advent wreath (she just loves seeing the candles being lit), and we’ve started explaining to her about the story of Mama Mary, St. Joseph, and Baby Jesus, the real meaning of Christmas. While she is probably too young to understand, all these are my husband’s and my efforts to teach her that Christmas is all about the love of family and gratitude for our blessings.

Christmas is a season she has come to enjoy. As a working mom (one who drives in traffic), it’s such a joy to see everything through my child’s eyes. Everything glitters and life feels like pure joy and innocence. It releases me from my own stress and it makes me happy.

As for Santa Claus, he will have to take a step back and wait until she has outgrown her fear of him. Maybe next year…

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