... a lot of work for mom! There is so much that goes into making a holiday special and sometimes I forget that it's *me* that has to do it. It's *me* that has to stir up a Christmas Spirit in my kids that is so wondrous that it lasts in their memories for years to come. No pressure!
One thing I decided that I would do for sure this year was let the kids help me decorate the tree. You don't know how much of a challenge this was for me because I'm a bit of a control freak (stop laughing Hannah!). Last week, in the middle of everything, I got our fake Christmas tree out while Sakura and Natsuki were having their nap and let Emi and Misaki help me put it together and spread out the branches. I left it that way for the afternoon because I wanted to see how Natsuki was going to do with resisting the urge to touch the tree. I think she was actually a bit scared of it at first and then she become interested in it and as soon as she went to touch it, I said "no" and she looked at me out of the corner of her eye and walked away from it. That's pretty much how it's gone since then. She knows she's not allowed to touch it but she'll try every so often, just to make sure we were serious about it.
Once Natsuki went to sleep that night, I got out the lights and decorations. We have about four strands of lights that I've had since Chikara and I were married. I laid them out and checked to see if they would light up and all except one strand were fine. I told the girls I would put the lights on real quick and then they could put the ornaments on. I wrapped all three strands of lights around the tree but when I went to plug it in, only one strand lit up. Huh? I wiggled the lights that weren't working and checked for broken bulbs but it all seemed normal. So, I took all the lights off again, laid them out and plugged them in one by one and, you'll never guess, they all lit up just fine. I connected them together and plugged them in and, again, no problem. Argghhh! It's like the lights were teasing me. So I left them plugged in and wrapped them around the tree and they stayed lit. Yeah! By this time it was later than I had planned so I got out some of the kid-friendly ornaments and let the girls put them on. They had so much fun doing it and I was really glad I had let them be a part of this tradition.
After they went to sleep, though, I had to take all those ornaments off and start again because I found some other ornaments that should go on first. I really tried to be less control-y but it didn't work. Sigh... but it turned out really nice and the girls didn't seem to notice that I had changed EVERYTHING around.
The next day, after the third night of no sleep, I *had* to prepare for my speech. No nap for me. After Sakura and Natsuki had started their nap, I figured I had about two hours to focus on the speech so I made myself a cup of coffee, put on some Christmas music and plugged in the tree. Only the bottom strand of lights lit up. Unbelievable. I wiggled and jiggled all the strands but the other lights wouldn't work and somehow *that* was the last straw for me and I just wanted to pick up the Christmas tree, ornaments and all, and throw it out the window! But I figured that would be hard to explain to the neighbors so instead I had some chocolate and got to work on my speech. Good thing, too, because an hour later Natsuki woke up screaming and that was the end of my private time.
In spite of my craziness, the girls have revelled in the beauty of the tree and all it's lights and shininess and that segued into the Christmas parties and Christmas services that we had last weekend and now the girls are ready for the real thing. They haven't asked too much about presents and I haven't been as good with promoting Santa Claus as I probably should be. The presents have been accumulating in my closet and I realized that if I didn't wrap them last night then Christmas Eve would be my only other chance. My mom had sent a box of presents but had only wrapped mine so I wrapped those presents and the presents we had bought for the kids. I was really tempted to put them all under the tree but I didn't want to spend the day yelling at the girls not to touch them. Now that we're so close to Christmas, I think the Christmas presents will "appear" on Christmas morning. Less stress for me! So all the wrapped presents went back into the closet but I was proud of a job well done.
Every year I appreciate more how much effort my parents put into making the holidays such a special time for us when we were kids. I hope I will be able to make the same impression on my own children.