Making Christmas Memories …

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Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying too hard to create memories that my children will be too young to remember. Does that sound silly?

Saturday night, I thought it would be fun to take them to look at Christmas lights. I looked up some places online and found at least one location where there was supposed to be a house with lights and music. I asked Mr. V if he’d take us out to dinner first, and we promised Libbie that if she took a nap she could stay up and watch a movie on TV.

We had just strapped David into the high chair at the little Chinese restaurant when he started screaming bloody murder for “SOMETHING EAT MOMMY PLEASE” and wriggling relentlessly. So Mr. V quickly decided on dinner and left with David to walk around a store next door rather than make the small Saturday night crew of kung pao-eaters listen to his wails.

The kids ate minuscule amounts of lo mein, I forced down some just-OK pork while blowing my nose and trying to pretend this cold wasn’t getting worse.

We got back in the car after wrestling David a little more and telling Libbie if she didn’t stop crawling under the table we would make her eat a mushroom. (Somehow I don’t think threatening with vegetables is probably a good parenting method.) I said something to the note of “we are going to have fun whether you like it or not,” which may or may not have influenced David’s cries of, “WHEE! SO FUN!” and choruses of “Happy Birthday to Mommy” while we drove.

Ronald McDonald House Lights
source: fredthechicken

One unsure turn and some dark roads later, we found the neighborhood we sought … and some gently-lit houses and lanterns. No gaudy lights. No music. We drove around a little more, and the kids were truly happy to see blow-up snowmen and blue lights on houses. We didn’t find anything extravagant, but it was OK.

We drove the 25 minutes home, and David’s “whee” had become fussing and fighting with his sister. We put him to bed, and Libbie did get to stay up and watching Despicable Me with Mommy and Daddy, munching on pretzels and cuddling. She loves those movie nights.

But it all caused me to question, am I trying too hard? Do I remember anything from being 4? I certainly want to make a warm, loving home and establish some Christmas traditions … but maybe it’s too early. Maybe dinners out and long drives are for older kids.

Or maybe I just spend way too much time in introspection.

What do you think?

16 thoughts on “Making Christmas Memories …

  1. I have found that I need to change my expectations of family outings. If I expect perfection, I am ALWAYS disappointed. If I brace myself to deal with the bumps in the road that come with having little people in tow, we can still have a good time. And that’s a way better memory than Mom & Dad snapping and fed up because things are not going as planned.
    Get better soon 🙂 !

  2. Oh how I love your sweet heart! I’ll say this, as one who is just a little ahead of you on this parenting journey, what they will remember is that you loved them. And if the plans you make are stressing you (or them!) out, then save that plan for another day or even year. Really … I promise, it will be fine.

  3. I have had these same thoughts. And in some ways things can get more complicated as your family grows. You want to do things the older kids will enjoy, but have to figure out what to do with younger ones. We finally decided to stop worrying about the little ones feeling left out (or being mad when they get older and realize they didn’t do everything we did) and plan things accordingly. And I think pinterest and social media in general can make us feel like we should be doing! it! all! Which is unrealistic.

  4. I keep our plans VERY loose during the holiday season. Last night I really wanted our family to go to a live nativity. The weather was kind of crappy but I REALLY WANTED TO CREATE A MEMORY!! In the end my husband talked me out of it and we wisely stayed in and watched Elf. Everyone was so happy and I realized too many of our “family moments” are spent with me agitated that things aren’t going how they were supposed to.

    • “REALLY WANTED TO CREATE A MEMORY!” pretty much sums up my attitude about Christmas, sadly! I think I had such a happy childhood and such great memories of Christmas that I am worried my kids won’t have the same. Which is crazy. They are tiny!

  5. I struggle with the same questions myself and even more b/c I wonder how much time I should spend focusing on each age group. I know my oldest is capable of enjoying remembering a great deal more than my 2 year old, but I want to split my time and efforts between them all b/c nothing else seems “fair”. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

    • Did you see the comment from Nicole up there? I think you guys would like each other if you aren’t already acquainted. Her blog is As Many as Given, she’s Catholic and has 6 kiddos. And is awesome. 🙂 But yeah … just more crazy to look forward to in the future, huh?

  6. I’ve had those plans and failure too, but the funny thing is that when I ask my son about them, he never seems to remember the parts that didn’t go as planned. His perspective on the situation is entirely different and generally more positive than mine. Came across another blog post today that illustrates this really nicely-

    Also, I keep having to remind myself that he is not the one with the Pintrest board- he doesn’t know what all those other moms are doing, he just knows me and I am good enough for him.

    Hang in there- this too shall pass and it sounds like it wasn’t all that terrible of a night- the movie part was great and chances are, that’s what will stick out in her head! Merry Christmas!

  7. You are not alone! 🙂 It’s hard sometimes with a three year old and I only have one. But I keep trying to make special memories I just keep in mind that special holiday memory might not be the Pinterst perfect. For example instead of trying to roll out and bake sugar cookies and decorate them I buy dough from the refrigerated section and we put M&Ms on cookies. So I have my holiday memory of making cookies and she has a fun time doing something on her level. 🙂

    • Yes, I have very happy memories of spending hours making cut-out sugar cookies and decorating them. But I realize I was probably older when we did this! I’m thinking dipping store-bought shortbread in chocolate or almond bark and adding sprinkles is about all my 4-year-old can handle right now. It’s all good!

      • I think the first year we did this you were 4 1/2 and Ash was almost 2. I’m pretty sure the two of you only “decorated” a couple of cookies. Also, I know you remember that it is something Daddy did with us. The biggest thing to remember this Christmas season is that everything does not have to be perfect. I think striving for that takes some of the joy out of Christmas. Your children will remember the times you spent reading all the books and doing Truth in the Tinsel. You are an awesome, loving mama.

  8. I think you are worrying about nothing. It is very surprising what children remember. I worried about this when we took my daughter to Disney World when she was 2. People said she would be too young to remember it but we did it anyway. She surprises us when she starts telling us stories about what she saw and what we did at Disney World. It’s never too young to start making memories and they will remember the ones that they enjoyed and were special to them. We have an annual tradition now that on New Year’s Day we drive out to the On Watch Statue in Solomons, MD to see the statue and if it’s not too cold to sit and eat a birthday lunch with my grandfather’s brick. The two of us have been doing this since she was a year old and whenever we go by that area she asks if we are going to say hi to great gramps.

  9. I find myself in the same boat as you. I always feel like I’m not doing enough “fun” activities that my kids will remember when they are old. But, the one thing we do every year (and actually works out well!) is looking at Christmas lights. In fact, we just did this this past weekend and decided to call it Cocoa, Cookies and Christmas lights. I have 3 little ones (ages 7, 4, 2) so I get them showered and dressed in Pj’s after dinner at home. We usually make 1 batch of cookies earlier in the day and a make a batch of hot chocolate and pour into sippie cups. My 2 older ones remembered that we did this and really looked forward to it. I make them wait the 30 minute drive before having the cookies and hot chocolate. I know, kind of mean. Then we drive slowly around the neighborhood talking about the lights, sipping our cocoa and nibbling our cookies. My littlest one fell asleep midway through but that’s ok. There will be time for him to remember also. I remember the simple things my mom did way more than the big trips/events and I think my kids (and yours) will too. Here’s to happy memories!!

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