It’s hard to believe we’re already in the middle of our first holiday season en famille! Arthur is going to be six months old next Wednesday (just writing that has me shaking my head in denial), and just one week after that will be his first Christmas.
Of course, we kicked it all off with a three-part Thanksgiving. Brian has two siblings, and since we are all coupled up that means there are a lot more family obligations to meet when the holidays rolled around. To compromise, my mother-in-law proposed a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with everyone in attendance – conveniently scheduled for the same day we met for family portraits. It was a fun evening, and Arthur enjoyed sitting in his high chair in the middle of the crowd. What he didn’t enjoy was being oh so close to all of the food without being able to eat it.
But guilty Thanksgiving wasn’t over.
We split Thanksgiving Day, spending the first half with my mom at her house and then traveling all together to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving Part Deux. Both meals were delicious, but between noon and five that day we learned an important lesson:
It’s incredibly difficult to eat when a five-month-old is staring at your plate.
Poor Artie. Every time one of us lifted a bite to our mouths he would stare, and gape, and lean ever so slightly toward the table as if pleading for a taste. He wasn’t hungry, per se – he had a bottle right before we sat down – but he wanted that food more than he’s probably wanted anything in his half a year on the planet.
I had a somewhat difficult decision to make over the next couple of days. I read all of the books and listened to all of the advice that said “No food until six months!” but here was my baby, only weeks away from this threshold and clearly interested in trying the scrumptious goodies on our plate. I could stick to my guns and watch him grow progressively more upset, or I could pull out my blender and my baby food books and give him his first taste.
So, I fed him.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving I went to the store and picked up half a batch of pears. I made enough for a few days and fed him the small remainder to gauge his reaction. To say he loved them would be a horrible understatement; I think if I had given him the entire batch that night he would have inhaled it before a long tummyaching night. That was all the response I needed to know that for us, this was the right decision.
We’re following the 3-day rule for introducing new foods. So far, Artie eats Bartlett pears, roasted sweet potatoes, and Honeycrisp apples in addition to a serving of single-grain oatmeal every morning. I don’t want to brag, but he is SUCH a good eater – not yet messy, very excited for each bite (he does try to help a little much sometimes!), and clear about being finished. Tomorrow night we are going to start peas, and I hope he likes them as much as I do.
Onward to Christmas. Everybody is thrilled to have a new baby to experience the magic of the season, though I’m sure a few pocketbooks are moaning at the extra outlay for presents. Fortunately, we were clear from the beginning that we don’t want to surround Arthur with piles of toys higher than he stands (with assistance), so this year we will have a few extra-special gifts with a handful of toys that I know he will use.
None of those gifts, though, will be from Santa.
Of all the parenting decisions we’ve made, this is the one that actually inspired pushback from a grandparent. See, I don’t remember a time when I ever believed there was a jolly old man who lived in the North Pole and delivered gifts to all the children in the world in one night. I understood “Santa” as the spirit of Christmas, giving and loving and joyful but not a real person. That is what I want to instill in my children, and to do that I want to avoid falling into the “presents from Santa” trap. It may become more difficult when he is old enough to ask questions, and if he expresses a belief in the persona of Santa then we will obviously tread lightly, but to me it feels inauthentic and dishonest to perpetuate the myth in that way – and one thing I never want to do is outright lie to my children.
So there will be no gifts from Santa to Arthur under our tree, and no explanations of how Santa knew at which house we would be celebrating Christmas this year. Instead there will only be love, and a few special toys from the real people who love him.
Merry whatever to whomever, wherever! Celebrate the season with love, joy, and openness.