Christmas Through My Toddler’s Eyes

Matt Orlando
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The past two months have been very stressful for me and my family. Without going into specific details, right around the same time we had our son, we had a loss in the family. The loss was devastating to everyone, and was amplified by the conflicting emotions of loss and new life. Couple this with a lack of sleep, crying, trying to handle two kids for the first time, and the general stress of the holiday season and it has been very difficult to get excited about Christmas this year.

As the wonder and excitement of Christmas fades as we get older, it is generally replaced with stress and anxiety. The long lines at the stores. Making sure everyone gets a gift they like. Trying to juggle the various familial obligations and get-togethers. Traffic jams and traveling, holiday bills and deadlines. Christmas starts to feel more like a responsibility than something to be enjoyed with family and friends.

This year, however, for the first time in a long time I saw the magic in Christmas. I saw my 2-year-old excitedly sprint around the parking lot as we picked out a Christmas tree. He marched gingerly through the rows of hand-made wooden snowmen and reindeer. He was wow’d when he awoke from his nap to find a tree standing in the middle of the living room. He was even more wow’d when he awoke the next day to find it fully decorated and lit. The pinnacle, to date, has been his wide-eyed wonderment at the expansive 2.5 mile light display we drove through the other night.

His unbridled enthusiasm and awe helped remind me of the joys of the Christmas season. He has brought it all back for me: the joy, the excitement, the wonder. Knowing that on Christmas morning, as he walks down the steps and sees the presents under the tree, his eyes lit up and smile spread across his face…that is what makes it all worth it. Now, for at least a few more years, I have this to look forward to each holiday season. For this, I am thankful.

This Christmas, during all the hustle and bustle of getting through what needs to be done, be sure to step back for a moment and really take in all of what the holiday has to offer. And if you’re lucky enough, you will get to experience it all for the first time all over again through a child’s eyes.

6 thoughts on “Christmas Through My Toddler’s Eyes

  1. Merry Christmas, RunnerDad. I’m glad you have your son to show you the way back, and believe me when I say it’s possible to truly enjoy the holidays without stumbling over stress & anxiety. Loss is one thing, and it came close this year with my dad. I am 3,000 miles from home, so no obligations with family. But my family still means as much to me this time of year. The majority of my gifts are handmade (I’m a quilter), and I do my best to not get caught up in the excessive spending. I will never grow tired of Christmas lights, and nothing will ever keep me from getting and enjoying a Christmas tree (my roommate did not want to celebrate Christmas, so my tree is in my bedroom this year!)

    Someday I look forward to having a family of my own with whom I can make new traditions, and share some of my favorites. Meanwhile, I try to soak up every bit of enjoyment I can. I love this time of year!

    Merry Christmas – when you start to feel lost again (for the enjoyment of it all), remember what the reason for the season is.

    1. Thanks for sharing Katy. I am blessed that I have 2 amazing children, and incredible wife, and friends and family to share the holidays with. I have always been one who lets themselves get over stressed, and something I’m constantly working on. And you are right, above all it is important to remember the reason for the season! Merry Christmas!

  2. Great post. It’s amazing the magic the kids can bring. I’m very excited for this year. My daughter is three. Last year she got excited and the look in her eyes for some of the Christmas magic was great, but this year, she’s getting some of the concepts, so she’s much more excited in anticipation of everything. Santa, presents, cookies, Christmas movies, singing at church, all of it.

    1. That’s awesome. I cannot wait for Christmas day to really enjoy it with my son. I know next year will be even more magical, as my one son will be just over 1 and my other son 3, and I imagine the excitement will just multiply exponentially between them. Have a wonderful Christmas John!

  3. I love this 🙂 I am from the US but live in the Netherlands for the last 20 years. I have two stepkids that I’ve had the pleasure (really!) of having in my life the last 10. Christmas isn’t the same here, it’s VERY low key (they celebrate Sinterklaas here more than Christmas), so I’ve tried to give the kids the true meaning of the season. We buy one or two gifts, but nothing too pricey or extensive. I give the kids a new ornament each year or we go to the Christmas Market in Germany and pick one out. We decorate the tree together and reminisce over “that one time we went to Dusseldorf to the market” or the ornaments my mom sent one year. We bake cookies for Santa (whom we all know is Papa now) and watch the movies that *I* watched growing up (which, just writing that makes me teary eyed; they are really are part of my life even if I’m not the “real” mom). When I told my almost 17 year old that we weren’t going to bother this year I saw the saddest panda look on her face… that’s the meaning of Christmas. The love and the family and the appreciation of what it’s about. Not the running around and the stress and the going over budget. I’m so glad I could give this to them, it really makes Christmas so much better than it was before I had them in my life.

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