Stories about travel, life, writing and parenting my college-age children (who think they don't need any more parenting). Oh! And the occasional amazing photograph (I like to play pro photographer on vacations.)
Did I ever mention that my first name is Holly and my hubby’s is Chris? Yup. We’re Chris and Holly. Although neither one of us was born in December, or even winter for that matter. Despite this fact, however, God was definitely displaying His infinite sense of humor when he blessed us with our first child. He decided it would be most amusing to have her arrive nine days past her due date of December 16th. So Chris and Holly had their first baby on Christmas.
After she was born, whenever people would learn of her birth date, I’d get unrequested feedback from friends and strangers alike.
“Oh,” pursed lips, sad shake of the head. “A Christmas baby. That’s too bad.”
Oh yeah? Well, not in the eyes of my Christmas baby! She has always loved her birthday. When she was really young, she commented once, “Everybody shares their birthday with somebody, mom. I get to share mine with the coolest guy who ever lived.”
I embrace her attitude!
I’ll admit though, it wasn’t easy at first. We initially had to do some creative finagling to help foster that positive attitude, starting with her first birthday. We discovered from talking with other December-borns, that their biggest complaint as kids concerned feeling gypped on birthdays due to receiving combination gifts. “You don’t get combo gifts if your birthday is in June!” They would say.
This is true.
They shared other issues with us as well. So my hubby and I sat down and created a few tips & traditions to help keep our daughter’s birthday special, while still managing to focus on the true reason for the season as well. Here they are:
Two for two. Two presents or no presents. Now, this may sound rude, but we asked family members to please give two separate gifts or no gifts. This completely eliminated the combo gift problem.
Wrap it right. Wrap birthday gifts in birthday paper! It may seem like a small thing, but it makes a difference.
Party hearty. We always have a birthday gathering with her friends a few weeks before her “real” birthday. When she was younger it was a more elaborate affair. Now as a teen, she’s perfectly happy to just host a sleepover with a few of her closest friends.
Decorations, decorations. We have NINE Rubbermaid containers full of Christmas decorations. We really love Christmas time. (Ya’ think?!) But we still decorate our dining room completely in a birthday theme for our daughter. She even has her own tabletop tree which she fills with birthday decorations and a party hat for the top. We place all her birthday presents under that tree.
Flexible festivities. We ended up reworking Christmas dinner a bit. Since the birthday child customarily chooses what the family has for dinner, our Christmas meals would consist of: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream… pizza, apple slices, raw carrot sticks and birthday cake. Needless to say, not working! Now, we have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve before attending the Christmas Eve service at our church. We keep the focus completely on Jesus until late Christmas morning. Then, we transition into birthday party mode for our December girl.
Applying these principals has been a great success with our daughter. We still keep our Jesus focus, yet also manage to generate a sense of birthday excitement as well.
Have a blessed Christmas everyone! And a big ol’ happy birthday to all the rest of you December birthday kids out there.
We’ve just returned from our annual holiday trek to the German town of Frankenmuth, Michigan. It’s a Christmas tradition we started when the kids were, well, babies really. We usually make the trip in the fall when the kids have one of those random “why are they off from school again?” days. They had one of those on Monday, so we hit the road early that morning.
Frankenmuth, Michigan is most famous for its Christmas store, Bronner's. The store is open all year and sells anything and everything Christmas. It’s a magical, sparkling fairyland to walk through, and we literally spend hours looking at everything each year.
Our tradition includes the opportunity for each child (& parent!) to select one and only one ornament to purchase for their very own. By the time our children are adults, they will each have at least 18 ornaments with which to decorate their own Christmas trees.
We were inspired to start the tradition when my husband and I were first married. We were about to celebrate our first Christmas together as a married couple, and we realized we didn’t own a single Christmas ornament between us. My in-laws were kind enough to share their abundant assortment. But if they hadn’t, we literally would have had nothing with which to decorate our first Christmas tree except some popcorn string.
I clearly recall our first family trip to Frankenmuth, and the very first ornament our daughter ever selected. It was (is) this hideous mouse lady dressed in a pink fluffy dress, Santa hat, and high heels. We all look at it now and laugh as we remember how her father and I tried so hard to talk her out of it, but she was not to be dissuaded. (A sign of that strong will which continues to flex its muscles today!)
When we started the tradition, we didn’t realize how the collection of ornaments for each child would ultimately be such a reflection of them. A chronicle of their transitioning interests as they’ve grown. Our daughter has moved from ballerina slipper ornaments to soccer cleats to colorful artistic fusions of blown glass. And our son’s choices have covered every sport he’s ever played, to airplanes, motorcycles, and cars he dreams of owning in the future.
We have other traditions to celebrate the holidays. But I love starting out the Christmas season with this one. And I love knowing that by the time our children are ready to leave home, they will each have a beautiful, meaningful array of ornaments with which to decorate their very own first Christmas trees.