3 kid-friendly Christmas traditions you need to drop
There is nothing newlyweds cling to as strongly as their holiday traditions (except maybe their wedding registry gift receipts). The hardest part of new marriage is when you realize your spouse has some seriously messed up holiday traditions. And by “seriously messed up,” I mean they’re not the same as yours. Panic sets in when you realize they decorate their tree before Christmas Eve. Or don’t enjoy listening to Christmas music all day from Halloween until Super Bowl Sunday.
On our first Christmas, my husband was mortified that I didn’t buy eggnog. “My family drinks egg nog,” he groused. “It’s not Christmas without eggnog. How does your family not have eggnog?”
So we bought a carton of eggnog.
By January 8, it was still in the fridge unopened.
“Why didn’t you drink your eggnog?” I asked.
“I hate eggnog.”
“But you said you had to have eggnog!”
“It’s the principle,” he said. “My family has eggnog.”
I did not ask what that meant. Was it just him or his whole family for whom “having eggnog” meant demanding it with the fervor of pillaging Vikings and then letting it sit untouched? I pictured his family’s Christmas table: lit-up eggnog fountains spouting everywhere and a banner saying, “Behold the sacred eggnog which ye shall not drink.”
Fortunately, once you have kids, new traditions evolve, and you no longer bother to argue that a star, not an angel, is the “correct” tree topper, and you can prove it.
In preparation, here is a list of traditions that kids often suggest but are a pain for parents. For a more sane holiday season, quash these seasonal practices from the get-go, lest your children request them each year.
Who decided that downy bits of frosting can hold up blocks of gingerbread with the molar mass of plutonium? After my walls caved in for the 48th time, I gave up. I told my kids we’d built a Gingerbread Hovel for poor kids, and if they didn’t behave, Santa would make them live in a house just like it. The ant-ridden wreckage graced our holiday mantel until Three King’s Day.
Giant inflatable decorations
Unless you pay the $5,000 electric bill to wind-fan them day and night, skip the inflatable wonderland. “I’ll just turn them on at night” is not an option. Go hard or go home. Leaving a pile of deflated reindeer scattered across your front yard like the civil war soldier scene in Gone with the Wind will scare the crap out of kids. I am sick of explaining that Santa’s not “dead” but “just resting” to a passel of bawling children.
$100 wooden advent calendars
What could be cuter than your toddler counting down to Christmas by opening up little doors to reveal compartments so small that only choking hazards fit in them? Fast-forward to when you have two kids. Or three. Or 10. Will they all have their own $100 choking calendar? Probably not. So take the number of doors you open each day (1) and divide it by the number of children you have. Then add a derivative factor equivalent to the most difficult child’s age. That number is the level of misery you experience every day when the unchosen children have tantrums because it’s not their turn.
You can find the chocolate ones at the dollar store.