Well, here we are in 2023!
Here’s everything – from the tough, to the wonderful, to everything in between – from our 2022 holiday season.
The Tough Stuff
Our school nurse sends out emails about contagious illness in Tru’s classroom. During November and December, we seemed to get a couple of those emails every single week, from strep throat, to flu, to covid, to conjunctivitis! It’s fear-inducing, to say the least. I’ll feel anxiety dropping him off in the morning, wondering, “is it really safe for me to be leaving him here?” Sadly, Tru did catch some of all that was going around. He had a mild fever and fatigue for a few days in November. Then about a week later, he came down with a pretty awful sounding cough. Then right before his Christmas vacation started, Tru ran a fever, lost his appetite, and only wanted to lie on the couch. If you know Trevor, you know how bizarre it is to witness him lying down all day long! It was the most sick I’ve seen him. Feeling myself to be his “guardian” and “protector,” it fills me with so much anxiety to see him sick. And then comes the dread about whether I’ll end up sick too. The transmission of illness through school has been one of the toughest aspects of parenting. How much do I wish I could wave a wand over the school and restore everyone to perfect health!
Another upsetting thing this holiday season was when a kid in Tru’s classroom (he has third graders in his class) told him that Santa isn’t real and that, “Santa couldn’t have room in his sleigh for all of those toys, and parents eat the cookies.” When he came home telling me about it, Tru seemed so disappointed and confused that it broke my heart. Tru is only 6 years old and still lives in a state of consciousness where absolutely anything is possible. It was clear that Tru couldn’t understand and just wanted to believe. I had a really hard time processing the whole situation because, for me, it symbolized the way in which the world will slowly steal away a child’s natural innocence and wonder. As a parent, I’ve felt extreme pain in wanting to protect that innate innocence, all while knowing I never could. So I did what I could do to cope, which was to go completely overboard, pulling out all the stops to create Santa magic. Tru got a phone call from Santa a couple of days before Christmas from a company called Visit With Santa. It was a live and interactive 7-minute call, which included a keepsake video. Tru seemed really happy to talk to Santa, so I was so thrilled to have found that company! I also found the most beautiful handwritten letters from Santa on Etsy. Etsy always has the most wonderful things! Tru’s eyes lit up when he first saw the big red envelope. I even found a Catch Santa Claus In My House app on my phone, so I was able to show Tru a picture “an elf must have taken” of Santa standing in our living room near the tree!
The other tough thing about parenting little kids is that the day-to-day can still be very draining. Not draining in the way that parenting a newborn is, of course. But Tru still has so many needs (physically and also for attention) and requires so much help and guidance. He still has so many requests and endless questions (that I mostly don’t have great answers for. Today he asked me how sugar gets into fruit. And how vitamins make him grow. And what 2,800 divided by 80 is.) He still has meltdowns when he gets overwhelmed or exhausted. It’s a sort of weariness that doesn’t come with relief. Of course, I’ve always had wearisome aspects to my day – dealing with traffic, work stress, etc. What I hadn’t understood is that, with kids, you become immersed in an endless 24/7 weariness that never really leaves you, ever. There are short windows when Tru’s at school or visiting his grandparents. But even then, I worry for him. There’s never complete relief.
The Wonderful Stuff
I have a nickname! And I love it! I think I’ve mentioned before how much Tru loves the Minions because he thinks they’re so funny. He started doing a thing a couple of months ago where he’d speak in Minionese/Banana Language to be silly. Especially when he wakes up in the morning and jumps into bed with Chris and I, he’ll talk in a baby voice and say he’s a minion. Sometimes when a song comes on in the car radio, he’ll start belting out the words in nonsensical Banana Language. So that’s how he got started calling me, “Mani.” He calls me Mani almost always, and I love having a unique name straight from Tru! When he and Chris come bursting into the house after a hockey practice, for example, Tru will come running up the stairs to my office calling, “Mani! Mani!” and then leap into my arms for a big hug.
As for before- and after-school activities, Tru is in love with basketball these days! He informed me that now that it’s too cold for golf, basketball is his official favorite sport for winter. He likes to shoot hoops in the playroom on the small hoop we hung above the door. He loves playing with Chris, but even on his own, he’ll invent “J.B. vs. J.T.” (Jaylen Brown versus Jayson Tatum) games, and announce the score to the household. I’m not great at playing basketball myself, but I’ll play HORSE if he wants to! If it’s not too cold, he’ll shoot hoops on the driveway outside after school. When he plays on the playground after school, he’s always in a search of a ball, and then he’ll make the rounded monkey bars into his “hoop.”
And now Tru plays on his first real basketball team too! He loves it. The team consists of 7- and 8-year-olds also, so that intimidates Tru a bit. Although he makes great shots, he tends to stay out of the action (so far, we’re still early into his first season and anything could change at anytime at that age!). He’s been hit in the face with a ball and also knocked to the ground, so I think he’s a little bit scared (although he doesn’t say that). The kids do fall on top of each other a lot, so it’s not easy for me to watch the games as a parent! But as I said, he makes a lot of excellent shots. He scored a great shot in his last weekend game. And he’s great at staying open and being aware of his teammates on the court.
One of Tru’s greatest highlights of the holiday season also involved basketball. Chris got the whole family tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters at TD Garden in Boston. We got a suite rental and Tru’s Mimi, Grampy, and Grammy came along with us! Tru had the time of his life. He was laughing and cheering the whole game. He even got to go down onto the court with Chris before the game and give high-fives to some of the players. He’s been practicing spinning the ball on his finger ever since!
Tru’s other obsession (since returning from Disney) is roller coasters. He got a roller coaster building kit for Christmas, which he was so excited about. He’s also drawn “plans” (i.e. pictures) for roller coasters that he’d like to build in our yard. And he talks frequently about planning a trip to Universal Studios in Florida, because he’s dying to ride the most extreme roller coasters of all.
Tru recently hit a few special milestones too! He lost his second front, top tooth right after Christmas, on December 27th. It actually caused him quite a bit of pain for several days before it finally came cleanly out. So he got a visit from the tooth fairy immediately after his visit from Santa. His smile is the sweetest now, and it melts my heart. And he just missed being in an “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” situation!
Second milestone: Tru can tie his own shoes now! His Mimi got him a book with practice shoe laces, and he dedicated himself to practice until he figured it out. He keeps on growing up so relentlessly! But, at the same time, I have to admit that it’s also wonderful that he’s able to take care of his own shoes now!
Third milestone: Tru is willingly eating fruit these days! He got the idea (from Chris and I, of course) that fruit has healthy vitamins that can “power him up” for sports and also help him grow. So he’s willingly eating cantelope, apple slices, and bananas before playing basketball in the playroom or going to hockey practice. It’s amazing. It feels like a miracle. I remember one time, we had Tru’s friend over to our house and she asked for a banana that she saw on my counter. I felt that awful pang of jealously: Tru had never requested a banana (or any fruit) from my counter or fridge, ever. But now he is! His appetite in the past couple of weeks has really increased, so my guess is that he’s hit a growth spurt. I’m really hoping the fruit-eating will continue even past that.
As for my favorite part of the day these days: it’s bedtime! I remember when that part of the day was often the most exhausting and chaotic, but now I enjoy the routine. Usually we’ll curl up together on his bed and I’ll read to him. But sometimes he reads to me, he’s become a truly amazing reader! We’ve lately even started a couple of small chapter books that his Mimi got him. After that, I’ll turn out the lights and tuck him in. I found an app called Storybook that provides short stories for kids along with massage guides. So he’ll choose a story and I’ll give him a little back rub. Sometimes he says he wants to take turns and give me a back rub, so that’s very sweet! It’s so funny, he has the option to rate the stories on a scale from 1 to 5 stars, and he always rates every story with the full 5 stars. Then he “hearts” every single one to mark it as a favorite. He’s usually asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, and he’s out until he pops out of bed between 6 – 6:15 the next morning. I always love to sneak into his room before I go to bed so I can catch a glimpse of him sleeping. As much as he’s growing, he still looks so tiny and so sweet, asleep in the bed. So deserving of everything good and kind and wonderful. He looks like a perfect miracle to my Mani eyes, he always has, since the first moment I held him! He still sleeps with the dolphin he got at the Sea Island resort in November.
Another daily favorite of mine happens during school pick-up. In all honesty, I dread the drive to and from school and also the walk from the parking lot to school grounds (it involves a busy street). But when Tru comes out and catches sight of me, he often breaks into a big grin and starts running toward me to give me a big hug! And that moment is one of the best parts of my day, always.
The Christmas Stuff
Tru was so excited to write a letter to Santa this year. He actually asked several times leading up to and around Thanksgiving, and I kept putting it off because we had special stationary stored with all of the Christmas decor in the basement. He finally wrote the most adorable letter, asking for a kid-sized basketball hoop for the driveway. I remember going through the JC Penney and Sears catalogs as a little girl and writing out 3-page lists for Christmas. But Tru only asked Santa for that one thing, sweet boy! He has zero interest in toys. When he’s not at school or sports practices, he’s happy playing basketball. He also told Chris and I that he wanted a double-free-throw basketball arcade game for his playroom. He got that from Mimi and Grampy; they set up a whole scavenger hunt for Tru to find his special gift, and he had so much fun!
As the days got darker and colder, Tru and I liked to cuddle on the couch under the big heavy brown blanket (if Calvin hadn’t already stolen it from us). We watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. It completely cracks me up that these movies are so old – all released in the 1960s! – and yet he still loves them! He also found a really cute new one, called Reindeer in Here. I also found that Netflix has a lot of cute Christmas movies for kids; unfortunately, I didn’t discover that until after Christmas. So this is my reminder to remember for next year! His other favorites lately have been the Despicable Me and Minion movies and the new Snoopy Show. I keep asking him to watch The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse with me. It’s the sweetest and best movie ever for kids (and grownups)! Tru picked up on a line from the movie about how we’re all “perfect just as we are” and has repeated it to me several times.
We did lots of fun activities for the holiday season and kept extremely busy. We went to gingerbread house decorating at the golf club. Tru was so excited for that! We went to a few Christmas light displays at local gardens.
We also did an overnight trip to Newport to check out the mansions, which were all decorated for Christmas. Tru was kind of bored with it, but it was a special trip for me because I always love to explore all of the detail at the mansions. We did the Cliff Walk for the first time, and the views of the ocean were really beautiful. I just love this age with Tru, where he’ll grab my hand as we walk and chit chat with me about anything that’s on his mind. We went to a really delicious dinner at a beautiful restaurant in downtown Newport called Stoneacre Brasserie. Before that, we stopped at a really cool bookstore. I found a kid’s book about the Big Bang and Tru found a dinosaur sticker book to work on during dinner. Afterward, we all curled up in our hotel beds in front of the fireplace and read Tru’s new book. Tru got to stay up late since we were all sharing one small room. He said he wanted to sleep with me in my bed, but that never actually works in practice – he only tosses and turns. That trip is a special memory for me.
On another note, Tru told me that his class went around in a circle to discuss their family holiday traditions. But he told me he didn’t say anything because he couldn’t remember any of ours! I responded, “Tru! We have so many!”
Here are our family traditions:
-Going to Grammy and Grandpa’s house for presents and a ham dinner (usually on Christmas Eve afternoon). (We normally go to their house, but this year they came to ours since a big storm hit New Hampshire and they lost power for two days.)
-Going to Mimi and Grampy’s house for presents and a turkey dinner (usually on Christmas day). Tru got a special scavenger hunt (with fun rhyming clues) the past few years to find one big, special gift at the end!
And here are our Christmas Eve traditions:
-We cook a delicious breakfast for dinner. Chris and I make avocado BLTs, fruit salad with berries and melon mixed with fresh lime juice and zest and sugar, hash browns cooked on the stovetop with olive oil and seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder and paprika, and cinnamon buns!
-We watch a Christmas movie together after dinner
-Each of us picks one present to open
-I added a new one this year: I read Twas the Night Before Christmas to everyone in the living room before bed. I got the idea from watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!
Here are all of our photos from the holiday season, along with my little thoughts and notes:
We had a beautiful morning walking the Cliff Walk in Newport and taking in the stunning views of the ocean. Tru and I held hands as we walked, and he told me all of his plans for building a giant roller coaster in our backyard! He told me that we might as well take down our house and build an entire amusement park instead – we could just live at the park instead of in a house!
Sweet Tru was so excited to write his letter to Santa this year! He started asking before Thanksgiving. I delayed the process until after we got back from Disney, because his Santa stationary was buried in the basement with all the other Christmas decor.
He knew exactly what he wanted to ask Santa for: an outdoor basketball hoop that was kid-size and short enough for him to dunk!
Tru was sick in the couple of days leading up to Christmas vacation, so he got a total of two weeks off from school. I kept him gainfully employed by having him help me wrap some gifts. He loses interest in gift wrapping after just a couple of presents though!
My camera settings got messed up on our trip to Newport. So, sadly, I have very few photos from the trip that aren’t completely blurry.
The cutest smile I ever did see. All he wants for Christmas is his two front teeth!
Tru couldn’t wait to get the Christmas tree and decorate it. He had to wait until after we got back from Disney, since we were gone for more than a week.
Chris and I asked Tru what he would like to do in Newport, and he said he’d like to find a bakery. We found one with delicious gingerbread men and sugar cookies frosted to look like Christmas bells!
Making cookies for Santa is always a favorite for Tru. Sadly, he was sick in the days leading up to Christmas and didn’t have an appetite. Plus his front tooth was halfway to falling out and it was causing him pain to eat. So he only had a couple of bites of sugar cookie. He was still so excited to decorate two special cookies for Santa though, sweet boy! One was Rudolph and the other was Santa. Tru also wrote Santa a note and left him some hot chocolate (to warm him up).
Tru wasn’t impressed with the Newport mansions like I was. But he was a good sport about walking through them to check out the beautiful Christmas decor.
Tru’s favorite expression, with his tongue out!
Oh, how I love this little boy’s smile!
I got Tru these adorable puppy dog slippers along with a matching robe. He wears them sometimes in the morning before the heat warms up the first floor. During the holidays, we’d often cuddle up under a blanket on the couch and watch a Christmas movie before school.
6-year-old Tru holds up his “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. Tru has taught me so much about deeply appreciating the minuscule amount time I have in this life. It all goes by in a flash!
Thank you, sweet boy, for teaching me all that is truly valuable in life. And for helping me to expand my heart to infinity!