Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Oh Christmas Tree by Allison Silver

Christmas will have come and gone by the time many of you read this post but I felt it was definitely worth sharing as I am sure there are many of you who can relate. About a week ago we decided to go get our Christmas tree. We have had an artificial tree for many years after buying a real tree almost cost us our relationship a few years back! But we decided that since we live in the country now we should have a real tree (that and the fact that when we plugged in the artificial tree this year half the lights were out!) I would love to tell you that we went out into the forest and cut down our own tree but that would not be the truth. The truth is we have a two year old, so time is precious, and we ended up getting our tree at Home Depot. Which actually worked out really well and I’m pleased to say that our marriage is still intact!

 Once we got the tree home and set up in our living room we naturally wanted to decorate it! Decorating the tree has been an activity that my hubby and I have always enjoyed doing together. In years past we would make popcorn and put holiday music on while we decorated the tree. (Yes, we are that corny couple!) But this year something happened that made us rethink our decorating traditions. This year we have a two year old! For the past two Christmases Charley was not mobile so the tradition of decorating the tree as a couple continued. But this year we have a two year old who is fascinated by the tree with it’s multicolored lights and glistening ornaments. As first time parents we naturally wanted to include Charley in our decorating tradition. So we took out the ornaments and put on the Christmas music. I want to tell you that it turned out to be a wonderful memorable family activity. But that wouldn’t be the truth! The truth is we have a two year old who wanted to grab, touch, and pull off everything we tried to put on the tree. After several glass balls were dismantled and broken the festive atmosphere in the room quickly changed. The music was turned off and my husband was instructed, “To get this kid out of here!” After I attempted to pry ornament pieces out of her hands!

 The day after we put up our tree we had our parent/tot class at our local Waldorf school. During our craft activity several of the moms and I were talking about how we had decorated our tree and what a stressful experience it had been for each of us with our young children.Our teacher listened empathetically and then made a comment that resonated with me and made me think of stories my parents used to tell. She said, “Sometimes it’s more magical for small children if the tree is decorated after the children go to bed and then when they wake up it is a beautiful sight.” In both my parents’ homes it was Christmas tradition that Santa brought everything; tree, presents, stockings, and decorations. He brought everything on Christmas Eve after the children went to bed. Both my mother and father told us how magical it was as a child to wake up on Christmas morning and see not only the presents but also the tree and all of the decorations. From a child’s point of view it must’ve been very magical but I seriously thought my grandparents were insane when I heard about this crazy tradition. But after our teacher at Waldorf made a similar suggestion it dawned on me that they were actually very ingenious. Think about it, they must have been exhausted on Christmas morning but they did not have to deal with children grabbing things off the tree, breaking ornaments, or siblings fighting over tree decorations. Not only was it a magical experience for the children it also prevented frustrations for both the parents and the children.

 Maybe there is something to be learned from this. Perhaps the spirit of Christmas doesn’t have to be doing every thing together as a family. I’m not too sure about doing everything on Christmas Eve but perhaps a new tradition in our home might be to put up the tree and the next morning when Charley wakes up it will have been decorated by some of Santa’s helpers! Whatever traditions your family celebrates I hope you all enjoy a Happy Holiday and a Merry Christmas!

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