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Wait… It’s December? Help Me Pull Off the Holidays, One-Handed.

Taylor Newman

My boss came by yesterday to tell me that, assuming I’ve got everything in order work-wise, I don’t need to come in next week. I just need to check my email and make sure that there “aren’t any fires.” I said, “Wow, that’s great, thank you!”, but it took me two hours and a walk across an empty, quiet campus to realize that everything on the academic calendar is shut down for the holidays (and, therefore, so are my job duties… serious university job perk). The trail end of that thought process went something like this, though: The holidays… Wait,  it’s December?!

I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate for this audience on the time-warp that is the first year with a baby. Life right now is a day-at-a-time kind of deal; in this week alone I’ve had two freelance assignments, a 100-question-long test in my kinesiology class, a doctor’s appointment for Kaspar, and, alas, very little sleep. Plus regular work, and regular baby-care action. Kaspar’s got his heart set on walking, but still lacks the balance to pull it off without assistance, so Aaron and I have been tag-teaming on the job of holding his hands while he toddles around the house. Once he gets tired, he wants to be carried around… and not, by any means, put down. I’ve gotten remarkably adept at doing almost everything one-handed, and Kaspar will hang out pretty happily in our baby carrier when I have a two-handed task to do. I’m buying one of those little rolling baby-walk-mobiles tomorrow so as to give the little guy-- and us-- some autonomy, regardless. Between daily life’s myopic focus (honestly, we barely keep up) and a lack of seasonal cues— I’m used to sub-zero wind chill factors, not seventy-five and sunny—I totally spaced the holidays this year. Whoops. (Check this post out for a photo from Christmas Eve last year-- I was super pregnant!)

I imagined, while pregnant, that I would do the holidays up once the baby came along. I have a manila folder full of ideas for projects, ripped from magazines while the baby was still baking. Aside from serving as solid evidence that I’m a total dork, this folder is now also just sort of laughable in the face of the realities of first-year parenting. Etched glass votive holders? Hand-sewn dove-shaped ornaments? Creative use of Christmas lights and mirrors for a modern mantle display? Canned pickled okra? All due respect, Martha, but these things are not happening. We don’t even have a Christmas tree yet; we’re planning to pick up a mini one this weekend.

We’re not religious about Christmas around here (I’m a Buddhist, and Aaron’s opted out), but I love the festive energy at this time of year, and the traditions. And I think it’s important to slow down (!) and note the changing seasons, celebrate the joy in our lives, give, receive, fill the house with good smells. We’re definitely planning on doing Christmas morning proper with Kaspar— popovers, presents, the whole bit—and then heading to the coast a few days later to show him a beach and the ocean for the first time (December beach trip= Southern-living perk)—but I want to get us into the holiday swing of things before the big day, which will actually be pretty low-key. We’re choosing to wait for big family visits and blowout Santa hysteria for when Kaspar’s big enough to understand what’s going on.

I have a week. I’d love some ideas for fun ways to get the holidays happening in our home—from quick and easy decorating tips to living room dance-party playlist suggestions—that can be accomplished one-handed, or—even better— that can incorporate a curious baby in some way. How do you prepare for the holidays? What are your baby-friendly traditions? How did you make your kiddos’ first Christmas (and other holidays) special? What are you doing this year? I can’t wait to hear what you’re up to!