By Kinsey Wall

Baby Wall 074As I was unpacking our Christmas items this year, I came across this photo in a ‘Baby’s 1st Christmas’ frame.

My first son, Zachary, is not technically a Christmas baby as his birthday is December 23. However, due to my Cesarean we were in the hospital over Christmas. It was really not as bad as you think. My husband ran across the street and picked up Luby’s for our Christmas dinner, and I had no responsibilities other than getting to know the newest member of our family. Oh, and to keep him alive.

But it also did not feel like Christmas. I put up a tree prior to going to the hospital, but that was about it. I was hugely pregnant and mainly concerned with how many onesies I had, the fact that I could not swaddle a baby doll and, let’s face it, that all consuming fear of being in charge of a baby. When we arrived home the day after Christmas, also my 30th birthday, I felt like Christmas was over. I could not focus on anything but this sweet baby that came home with us.

Over that next year, I got used to being someone’s mom; the nursing, the napping, all the crying and peeing and suddenly my baby was turning one, and it was Christmas again. Both my husband and I had traditions we wanted to start for our new little family – but we had a one year old. A baby who would rather pull the ornaments off the tree and scoot after the dog than watch the Polar Express and find the Elf on the Shelf. Plus we were tired. I am just going to say it. Having a one year old is still so, so tiring.

Over the next two years we had similar Christmases, each getting a bit better, but still just another day with a toddler. We welcomed another baby boy into our family and continued to try not to fall asleep in the carpool lane. Oh, we went through the motions, don’t get me wrong. We have monogrammed stockings, a child sized manger scene and a slew of plastic ornaments for the boys to “decorate” the tree. But it still didn’t feel like the Christmases you remember from growing up.

Then, Zachary turned four, and he got it. He finally understood Christmas. He understood there was a Santa and that the Elf on the Shelf is watching him, in a non-creepy way, and reporting back to Santa. All that tacky Christmas stuff you see in Walgreens? I own it. Why? Because I have a four year old who squeals in wonder at the light up singing frogs and the plastic candy canes. A four year old who ran screaming through the house when our Elf on the Shelf, Jack, arrived. One who wants to read Christmas books by the fire, no matter that it is 65 degrees outside.  A boy who is excited to turn five, but still wants me to lay with him before bed while he gazes at the Christmas tree from his bedroom door.

My baby is still in there. The sweet, old man faced baby boy that spent his first Christmas in the hospital snuggled up next to me  is still in there. He is just taller, and can enunciate his opinions, but now celebrates the wonder and magic of the season as much as his dad and I do.  It is a trade off, I suppose. I miss those baby days with the fat thighs and the squishy faces smiling and gurgling at you, but I love the boy he is becoming and the new traditions we are building just by him being big enough to grasp them.