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Merry Christmas! I Give You Photos, a Video and a Stroke of Pure Genius.

Taylor Hengen Newman

Last we spoke, I was having some reservations about the whole Santa thing. It was great to read your comments on that post; I'd had no idea other parents shared any of my doubts in that department. After considering all of your thoughts, Aaron and I officially decided to casually skip over Santa this year. And after finishing the last of our late-December work projects, we decided to get on with Christmas!

I, in particular, have really been feeling it this season. I baked cookies and everything. I even got a head start on gifting. This year's been wonderful and BUSY, and I've been looking forward to getting cozy with the fam for the holidays, distraction-free (which almost never happens) and set to celebrate our shared love and successes, and our ever-evolving lives. Of course, then the grandparents all called and asked what our plans were.

I've written before about the challenges of navigating time off amidst grandparent visitation requests. It ain't easy. And while Aaron and I run our own work lives, which affords us a lot more time with Kaspar than most people get with their kids (for which I am unspeakably grateful), that also means that we generally work seven days a week, largely at night, and usually trading off parenting shifts during the day. We always eat dinner as a family, and we definitely see each other throughout the day for quick hellos, kid-poop-status updates and stolen kisses, but we don't often have time to just chill out and decompress together. So times like Hannukah and Christmas-- when all of the art directors and editors have gone home to celebrate with loved ones of their own, inboxes closed-- give us the rare opportunity to switch off our dual-citizenship freelancer/family-boss brains, and to bust out some presents and play. 

Yet, if there's one holiday that Grandparents have a role in (slash feel very attached to... understandably), it's Christmas. The day when kids lose their little minds with excitement and joy. My parents are in New Hampshire, and we just saw them last month; we all just had a little holiday Skype date... and Aaron and I agreed to fly our family there for Christmas next year (how do they do that?). Aaron's mom, however, lives a hop-skip-jump away in Dallas, and we knew before even picking up the phone that her plans would revolve around visiting with us. Probably for the entire holiday weekend. And then some. We were going to need to strategize.

We talked amongst ourselves: Aaron's mom is a super sweetheart, and we definitely felt good about spending some of Christmas with her. But we've also seen a lot of her this fall... and, as I mentioned, not so much of each other (I just finished massage school classes last week, on top of the rest of it). Plus, we haven't spent time off just with our little family unit since our honeymoon, and Kaspar barely counted as a family-unit member during that magical escape (although he was there, some three months and cooking). Our best Christmas in recent memory took place the December before that, when we turned down all family invitations for the first time, bought ourselves a Wii and ordered an old school Brooklyn pizza to be delivered through the swirling snow. Although we recognize that, with a little kid in the mix, we can't pull that kind of stunt again just yet-- the grandparents have to get theirs, too-- we wanted to honor our desire for something comparable. We wanted to keep it simple, with a focus on the little guy. We thought, if we don't do holidays our way now... when will we? 

We came up with a rather genius plan. We decided to bump Christmas up by a day, to celebrate in our style for its entirety, and then to turn Christmas Day Two (the real Christmas) over to Granny Em's visit. Kaspar wouldn't know the difference (in fact, it'd be twice the awesome for him), and we wouldn't feel that our holiday had been completely overtaken by extended-family time. My MIL did suggest she'd come from Friday through Tuesday, but we suggested Sunday through Tuesday instead. She was flexible, and we called it a deal. Everyone had a better time, really appreciating the holiday and each other, because of it. I say this with the best of intentions for everyone, and I say it from the bottom of my heart: boundaries are a beautiful thing. ...Communication counts for a lot, too.

We had a fabulous Christmas down here, y'all! (Check out the photographic evidence below). We went to a party with good friends on Friday night, and then from six a.m. on Saturday morning (when Kaspar woke up to discover a ride-on fire truck in the living room and a swing on the back porch) to eight 'o clock this evening (when we shared Christmas dinner with Aaron's mom), we rocked around the tree-- and the clock-- with the best of 'em. We all enjoyed our time together.. The two-day trick was TOTALLY genius! Hannukah knows what's up with the multi-day holiday. As for us, we're never looking back. This is the way it's gonna be for the Newmans from now on. And who knows: next year we might make it a week long celebration, with a day of gifts and playtime at home and then travel plus relatives galore after that. 

I hope all of your holidays were the best holidays yet. Celebrating with children is truly special, however you choose to celebrate, wherever you are.

Thanks for sharing this very fun year here in this space. I'm sending much love to you all. XO

Kaspar looooves his brand new swing. Here he is, bright and early.

His new fire truck rocked his world, too.

He caught some fish just after sunrise.

And then went exploring outside.

In the afternoon, we hunkered down indoors, listening to old school country Christmas music.

When Granny Em arrived Sunday morning, Kaspar read The Polar Express about 6,000 times. (Santa features prominently in this story, by the way, which we're fine with. We're just not talking him up like he's real around here. Kaspar seems totally fine with that). These two are so sweet together. Click here for a peek via video.

Here's to simple, happy holidays! Best wishes from our family to yours!