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My son turns three in a few short months, which feels like the perfect age for the holiday season. He's old enough to understand that something special is happening, and young enough to be fascinated by the simplest pieces of it. No tiny baby napping through everything, no adolescent yawns of boredom. Just magic.
It's tempting to ignore how easily pleased he is right now and to bombard him with special things. Trips to expensive holiday shows and sites, or fancy meals and parties can be fun, but can also miss the point. This time is best enjoyed when we savor the small moments, the ones that may lose their magic when he's older. By then, I hope to have cemented these moments into annual tradition, tied to happy memories.
This year, we're enjoying the winter season with handmade projects, like decorations for the windows from last year's holiday cards and wrap, cutting paper snowflakes and looping together paper chains. Soon we'll start hunting through recipe books for a special few treats to bake for neighbors and friends.
We plan our calendar around outdoor events, like tree lightings at nearby parks and government buildings. We've learned which streets in our neighborhood have the most festive decorations so we can fill up a thermos of cocoa and take a glittery walk. There are walks to the library to gather holiday books, to the post office to mail greetings, and to the nearby bakery for seasonal treats.
Even window shopping is a festive adventure right now. It's fun to see the elaborate store window displays, and we can scheme about presents for Dad and Grandma, all the while enjoying the merrily bustling atmosphere (perhaps less merry when you're also bustling).
All of these things are special from year to year, but most of our traditions are serendipitous. One year, the first snow of the season fell while we were at a local pizza spot. Since then, we try to stop by that pizza joint in mid-November and cross fingers for a few snowflakes.
I love that right now everything is exciting. To a small one, the holiday season makes even the mundane magical. I'm learning to appreciate the simple moments, and to carry them over from year to year.
About Liz Moorhead
Liz Moorhead is a high school teacher turned work-from-home mom. An illustrator and writer, she blogs for a top wedding site and shares her own personal experiences on her blog Happy Sighs in between walks to the park with her toddler son – all just outside of Philadelphia.