Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Lessons

Christmas this year was something of a benchmark. (And, actually, it's not over yet - we'll be getting together with my side of the family this weekend.) So what's the big deal? Well, Secondborn (1.6 yrs) is finally old enough to get presents that Firstborn (5.5 yrs) finds interesting. This has created an interesting new dynamic in our unwrapping and subsequent playing with the toys.

Fortunately, it wasn't a huge crisis. The boys are pretty good about sharing, and were even able to play together... or at least side by side with the same set of toys. Firstborn, however, kept trying to claim a selection of Secondborn's toys, which meant that we kept having to reiterate that those toys, in fact, belonged to his brother.

Which brings me back to the topic of this post...

Lessons I have learned from Christmas 2011:
  1. We require a Balance of Toys. That's not to say that the two boys must get exactly the same presents, just that they must be comparable enough that nobody feels left out. We knew we were going to have to do this eventually, but apparently we're already there.
  2. Shared Resources must occupy Neutral Ground. Firstborn is old enough to think of his room as his own space. He's allowed to close the gate and keep his younger brother out. This is fine, except that if he borrows one of his brother's toys and takes it into his room... You see where this is going, right? So toys that are being shared should be played with in the living room.
  3. Marketing doesn't end when you buy the product. Firstborn won't let us throw away all the packaging. He likes pressing his toys back into the molded plastic packages, usually to indicate that they've been put in jail or frozen in ice. He wants to keep the back of the Imaginext packages, which show entire landscapes of toys. Throwing away the packaging is Not Acceptable, which makes it very hard to clean up after the toys have been opened.
  4. Gratitude is not instinctive. Firstborn has a habit of speaking his mind. We generally encourage this, but it can create some problems... as, for example, when his Nana gives him a special pair of Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve, and he immediately announces - loudly - that he hates them and will not wear them. (I'm pretty sure he was hoping for a toy, and was just disappointed. We were able to coax him into going and giving his Nana a hug, and telling her that he loved her; and he didn't object at all when I put the PJs on him at bedtime.) We're, um, we're going to be doing some extra work on when and why we use "Thank you" to be polite.
  5. I cannot eat that much food. I don't care how good it looks or what time of year this is, if the total amount of food on my plate exceeds my own body mass, then I will not be able to finish it.
  6. Sleep is not optional. We had a couple of friends over while they were in town, and it was great.  We haven't had that much fun, or that kind of social fun at all, in a long time. (We basically just sat around the kitchen table, talking and laughing, after the boys had gone to bed.) And because we were enjoying ourselves, we stayed up late. Because we stayed up late, we were tired. Back when we were younger, and didn't have kids, that was no big deal. Now, it's a serious issue that we have to make major allowances for. (It was still completely worth it, though!)
All in all, Christmas has gone very well. If you want to see pictures, join us below the cut:

 The Great Gingerbread House Construction of 2011 (Firstborn):
Secondborn helps with the construction (or, well, eats the building materials):
Boys, tired, in their Christmas outfits:
Boys opening presents at their Nana's house (the toys in the background aren't for Christmas; they've been moved back there to make room for the tree):
Toys successfully extracted from bags:

In addition to the Great Gingerbread House Building Project, there was also a Christmas Eve service - where, alas, I did not take any pictures. But Firstborn got to hold a candle, and the Beautiful Woman took Secondborn outside so he could rampage in the foyer without disturbing the service. We're claiming a victory on that one, too.

And that was our Christmas so far.


  1. Love it! :-) Especially 2nd born on top of the table. *giggle*

  2. It looks like both boys had fun with the gingerbread house!

  3. They did. And the expression on the helpers' faces when Secondborn climbed up on the table and squatted down next to the candy was absolutely priceless.

  4. Precious! Looks like they had a great time building their gingerbread house!

    Often it seems the wee ones prefer to play with the packaging rather than the actual toy. I have a picture of my grandgirl sitting in the box hers came out of. I could've gotten off much cheaper had I known she'd prefer the cardboard box. :)


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