“Having kids changes everything”. I don’t know how many times I heard this before we had a kid but as much as I’d like to roll my eyes: it is very true.
L’s family owned a Christmas tree farm for several years when he was a child. The past six or so winters I have been learning how to spot “the perfect tree” to cut down.
At the tree farm this year we found three trees in the first half hour that were pretty good. But of course L wanted to venture to another section to find that perfect tree. I reminded him this year we have a toddler, who is cold and tired. We had to change our expectations. (No tree is truly perfect.)
As L cut down A pretty good tree, Z and I explored the store and ate butter cookies. By the time we were back on the road, tree on the roof, Z was fast asleep.
After nap time we got out the decorations. Growing up I was the tree decorating perfectionist: the lights and cranberries had to be strung with equal spacing and tucked wires didn’t show. A balance of large and small ornaments had to be evenly dispersed. (Yea, I annoyed the whole family I’m sure).
But now we have a toddler. This year I had to separate our breakable ornaments from the wood, metal, fabric, or plastic ones. All breakables went back in the box. We used candy canes and fabric or paper snowflakes to fill in gaps where larger breakable ornaments would normally be.
We also decided that we cannot expect every visit this holiday season to: restaurants, stores, houses to have a baby gate, box, or barrier around their trees. We chose, even though it’s the harder route, to teach our son to use his eyes, to point at ornaments, to smell the tree. Teaching him that touching is not an option was hard the first weekend. After several time-outs, Z now rarely touches the tree. Luckily, only a few candy canes we lost in the process.
The tree is good, the decorations realistic and what matters most is we had a great time together. This year Luke and I discovered, if we set aside our past expectations, how we have always done it, we could enjoy this Christmas with our toddler. Toddler tree and all.