I am so lucky to have the most wonderful memories of Christmas growing up. My parents and wider family went to such great lengths to make it magical for us that I feel so honoured to be able to do the same for my daughter, Hallie, who is nearly 2. It’s baby steps but it’s still so much fun. She can say “Santa” now and if we say “what does Santa say?”, she responds with “Ho Ho Ho!” – I am so proud every time! Hallie has reminded me that the wonder of Christmas through a child’s eyes is pure magic. Despite a frosty December in London, we walk home most days from childcare to look at the lights on the houses – she makes us stop outside each house to energetically say “lights! Amazing!”.
We put up the Christmas tree last weekend and attempted to decorate during Hallie’s afternoon nap. Needless to say, between disagreements as to whether the tree was actually standing up straight and who broke the fairy lights, this was not achieved. Hallie woke up to help us. I thought this would be a disaster but she was very excited to starting helping put “baubles” (new word!) on the tree and was delighted to point out anytime we had a Santa or Snowman decoration. I thought I was enthusiastic about our tree but I am delighted to report that Hallie might be even more excited than me. She made the event even more memorable by getting Alexa to play some “row row your boat” and we all had to dance to it – the simple things but the oh so special things! We hoped to get a lovely picture perfect moment of my husband, Patrick, holding her while she put the star on top (that didn’t happen, not even close!)
We have bought her a cute little nativity set that she plays with most mornings. It is so cute when she is delighted to put the “Baby Jesus” in his crib and the sheep and the “horsey” (donkey) and then the many men (the wise men, Joseph and the shepherds are all known as “man”), it has made me notice the lack of female representation at this scene – a discussion point for later years perhaps! We have visited two Santa’s this year – to say Hallie is not a fan is an understatement so we may wait another year or two and just love the big man from home and through books for now!
New experiences. We went to a family festive event at Battersea Power Station last week and Hallie once again proved herself to be my daughter when we both got competitive at seeing another family with a son the same age as Hallie ice skating, so decided to brave the ice together. I could not get over how brave she was! It was the most incredible time, she loved whizzing around on the penguin and made me ice skate with her – that and the Christmas tree in the middle and the Christmas music playing was probably one of my favourite moments of 2022!
We’ll pack our car in a weeks’ time and begin the voyage to Ireland by car and ferry to spend Christmas at home in Ireland with my parents and family. Last year, I remember my aunt bursting into the house saying it must be so great that Santa is back visiting. We reminded here that Hallie wasn’t yet one, to which my aunt replied, “it doesn’t matter, he is back!” I’m expecting lots of excitement again, can’t wait for them all to hear Hallie’s “Ho Ho Ho!”. There is something about Christmas in Ireland that I cannot explain, perhaps magic is the right word, but my excitement elevates two fold. We had some friends from London come to my parents house for New Years Eve and they compared the house to a Christmas Grotto!
As you get older, the more life throws at you, and although Christmas is a wonderful, magical, time of year, it is also a reminder of the empty chair at the table, perhaps for the first time. It may also be a significant time for other reasons. We were hoping to share the news of a second pregnancy this Christmas which we unfortunately won’t be doing now. As we reflect over the holiday period, it will be a reminder to us of how our plans have changed. What I’ve realised is that Christmas is a milestone each year and with Hallie, I’m realising that it’s our duty to pass on the traditions and fill her young heart with joy. Her innocence and the amazement in her eyes is a constant source of joy, helping me remember that although this can be a tough time of year, I am so lucky to be sharing this with her, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Nollaig Shona Duit!