Its' hard to believe that this is going to be the 11th Christmas that my wife and I have spent with kids. We are still in the grasp of Santa Claus, but I fear that this will be the last year the jolly old elf gets all of the credit for the big day. Tyler is in the fifth grade now and I am shocked that he still believes in Santa or is at least still playing along. I suspect that he has known for a couple of years now, but just won't come out and tell us. He's a smart kid, perhaps smarter than us. Some fourth grader told Carter on the bus that Santa isn't real, so who knows what he thinks. He's never really been into the whole holiday as much as his older brother.
I've noticed some things in 11 years.
1. No Christmas is as exciting as when your kid is two years old. Christmas peaked that year. The first couple of years the kids have no idea what is going on, but at two they expect something will happen and Christmas morning when you are two is an explosion of excitement. Tyler dressed up as Santa to go see Santa that year. Walking through the mall that year is something I will never forget.
2. The first Christmas really is a waste for the kids. It's nothing more than a photo opportunity with a new "Baby's First Christmas" outfit. Kids can't open anything at that age and they really have no clue what is going on. just give your kid a box.
3. The first Christmas is anything but a waste for parents. It might be a photo opportunity, but never again will your kid wear the "Baby's First Christmas" outfit. Christmas changes when you have a kid.
4. Kids react differently to Christmas. Our oldest loves everything about Christmas, our youngest is pretty indifferent. He makes a list, he checks it twice; he'd be happy if a big box was delivered on a random Tuesday afternoon with a bunch of toys and games. He could do without all the Christmas trimmings. The first couple of years Carter was fine with Santa, the next few he was scared to see him.
5. Christmas turns into a game. Part of me just wants to spill the beans about Christmas. The kids find random presents that were supposed to be from Santa. They see our browsing history on the computer. Presents have to be switched from Santa to Hanukkah. It's not easy nowadays hiding everything.
6. Every Christmas special on TV talks about not believing in Santa. It puts doubt in their heads. Why would a young kid have any reason to not believe? Yet, every show starts with some kid questioning the existence of Santa only to be convinced in the end that he is real. Maybe it's the parent in me that wants to make it last as long as possible and I'm thinking about it too much, but I can almost see the wheels turning in my kids heads whenever it gets brought up.
7. It's not easy to shop anymore. We used to be able to get the kids anything and they would love it. Throw some Legos or Star Wars stuff under the tree and the kids would be thrilled. Now? They love their tablets and they don't really play with toys that much anymore. It's all about video games, but you can't have EVERY present be a video game. They just don't NEED as much stuff, but they WANT a lot of stuff.
8. Whatever they want they will no longer play with by New Years. Like a lot of kids last year, Tyler had to have a million rubber bands last year for his Rainbow Loom kit. Two days later they were forgotten about.
9. Christmas lists can't be made out until Thanksgiving. Sure kids can wish for things throughout the year, but I learned my lesson with Pokemon two years ago. It's all Carter wanted in October, so we bought a bunch of them online. By mid November he wanted nothing to do with them. We still have those cards and he actually is starting to play with Pokemon again, but that wasn't a fun holiday.
10. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. Amazingly I'm happy not getting anything for Christmas. Seeing my kids open all their presents is good enough for me.
11. The moment after all the presents are opened is the saddest time of year. You have no idea what Christmas is going to look like the following year. How will the kids change? Will they care about Santa anymore? How much Christmas magic will still exist? Every year the kids are less and less excited about the holidays. A lot changes over the course of a year's time.
Who knows what next year will hold, but I suspect I will learn a little more.