Do you remember those first holidays you celebrated with your partner before you had a baby? Valentine’s Day dates with romantic dinners & alone time. When holidays like St. Patrick’s Day was about getting green beer and not leprechauns and pots of gold. Christmas was about finding your partner that perfect gift and celebrating as a couple.
The holidays change for us as we grow up. Some of the magic slowly leaves and is replaced with an easier adult way of celebrating holidays. Then you have a baby and you have to find your way back to the magic and try to reignite your inner child. With that magic also comes a whole new load of responsibilities. When it comes to celebrating the holidays they are no longer about you and your spouse. You can’t just decide to skip them when you don’t feel like celebrating. It is now your responsibility to create memories for your child. It’s on you to instill in them the magic and traditions that make these times so special.
My Holiday Foundation
My parents divorced when I was very young and remarried very soon after so this always meant that I had a ton of family and lots of holiday celebrations. This was especially true on my mom’s side of the family. Holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas were always a huge deal. I remember always having special holiday outfits, special traditions, & celebrating with family gatherings.
During Easter I always remember having to wear my special outfit to church that my grandma almost always picked out and I usually disliked. We would then go back to whichever family member that was selected to host and have a huge family meal. The food kept coming for hours and was followed by Easter egg hunt after Easter egg hunt.
Thanksgiving always started with the Macy’s Day Parade. My mom was always up at the crack of dawn, starting food even though she had been prepping for days. We then would have what we call dinner at lunchtime and second dinner hours later because there was always so much food. The rest of the day was spent enjoying one another, playing games, and complaining about how full we were as we took another bite.
Christmas was always especially memorable. Being from divorced parents, it meant I got two Christmases. They were always spent doing things like seeing the parade of lights, driving around and looking at Christmas light displays, baking, singing carols, & reciting our favorite Christmas movies because we knew them by heart. We had our traditions of Christmas Eve Mass, opening an early Christmas Eve present, and of course big family dinner with lots of food.
New Baby, New Traditions
I knew the minute I had my daughter that I wanted to give her all the same memories that I enjoyed growing up, as well as create our own family traditions. I wanted to share with her the one thing we celebrated most during these holidays – Family, and the love we share for one another. This became a little hard her first year because she was so little and born in the middle of a pandemic. It meant that as a family, we didn’t have the option to have the big gatherings that we’ve had in the past. It meant that my husband and I had to do the best we could to start out her traditions as happy as we could.
The first holiday that we actually celebrated with my daughter was Thanksgiving. This one was a bit of a challenge because this is the one holiday that I have always spent with my family. I have never spent it without them and it made me sad. I knew though that we had to make the most of this day for our daughter. We started the day how I’ve always started the day on Thanksgiving – watching the Macy’s Day Parade. After the parade, we hung out for that day at home while our food cooked. It was just our small little family so we didn’t cook a whole Turkey and kept our menu very small. We still got semi dressed up and took pictures with our daughter commemorating our first Thanksgiving. She was beyond adorable with her cute little turkey onesie and tutu. We then enjoyed our dinner and dessert and spent the rest of the evening enjoying our time together.
Christmas was our next big holiday. I never waste any time preparing for Christmas, as it is my most favorite time of the year, so the weekend after Thanksgiving we set up our tree and began the Christmas season. We showed our daughter all the decorations and even picked out special ornaments to commemorate our first year together. We took fun photos of her by the tree as well as the obligatory, corny photos of mom and dad holding the baby by the tree. The one thing we knew she would love was the lights. I wanted to continue the tradition with her that I always spent time doing as a child. So on a very cold and icy night, we packed into the car and drove around town looking at various light displays, ending our night at an epic light display complete with music that you could tune into from your car. We also knew how much she loved music so Christmas carols were a no brainer. I would play them often and find her often rocking back and forth and dancing to the songs. We of course as first time parents, and feeling a little bit of COVID parent guilt went overboard when it came to Christmas presents. Knowing that it would be a lot for her to process in one day, we did what we call the 12 Days of Christmas. She got to open a present every day, up until Christmas for 12 days. This Started with the smallest gift and ended with the biggest. On Christmas morning, she woke up to find a ball pit and tent in the living room as well as one last present to open. We spent the rest of the day prepping our Christmas dinner and binging on Christmas movies. Even though we somehow ruined our ham and turned it into mush, it was still a good day. The one thing I will always remember is how the night ended. I remember so clearly watching my daughter under Christmas lights, fixated on the Polar Express with her cute Christmas pajamas, knowing that this was the beginning of so many Christmases to come.
Although COVID affected our daughter’s first holidays. What was important was the time that we got to spend as our little family, just the three of us. That’s what made those first few holidays magical for us. I do look forward to introducing my daughter to our bigger family gatherings and traditions. I look forward to fostering her innocence with stories of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Most important though, I will continue to instill with her the love that we all share around those times and the traditions that make those times so special.
From my family to yours I hope you have a very Happy Holiday season!