The Day After Christmas

Christmas Aftermath

Yesterday was a crazy, exhausting, insane day…and I cherished every minute of it!  After a late night dinner at my parent’s house the boys were exhausted and slept in till about 8 AM.  For Dodge (9 months) it was like any other day but slightly more activity while for Max (almost 3 years old) it was the best day of the year!  To say Max and Dodge were good boys this year would be the understatement of the century.  Sure Max has his tantrums and Dodge isn’t sleeping because he has a tooth coming in and he’s learned to stand…but that’s what kids do at this age.  Take away those things every kid does at their age and here is some of their nice list:

MAXWELL (Almost 3)

  • Listens very well
  • Say’s “Thank you” and “Please”
  • Has amazing reasoning capabilities
  • Very expressive and verbalizes himself
  • Socially outgoing and goes with the flow
  • Very affectionate
  • Give hugs and kisses when asked
  • Takes his dishes to the sink
  • Can take on/off his own shoes
  • Holds his brother’s hand in the car when Dodge cries
  • Points out when Dada uses foul language
  • Does not like or use foul language
  • Amazing imagination
  • Says “I love you Dada” every night at bedtime
  • Very protective of his brother
  • Shares well and plays well with others
  • Smiles and poses for pictures
  • Respects the word “No” if you explain why
  • Will do anything for fireworks
  • Respectful and nice to his sitters
  • No longer sits in a high chair
  • Amazing road trip traveler
  • LOVES Christmas lights (who doesn’t?)
  • Great use of forks and spoons when feeding himself
  • Has started singing…and is good
  • Memorized all his books and will “read” them to you
  • Has learned the alphabet and numbers
  • Almost fully potty trained
  • Has gracefully grown from a toddler to a boy

DODGE (Almost 10 months)

  • Very socially outgoing
  • Constant full-face smile
  • Learned to crawl and stand recently
  • Learned to say “hi” this week
  • Learned to say “bye-bye” on Christmas
  • Plays peek-a-boo at the dinner table
  • Happiest baby I have ever met
  • Plays well with Max and goes with the flow
  • Can rally for parties and stay up late if need be
  • Can melt your heart with his blue eyes
  • Sleeps in his car seat during road trips
  • Smart – understands how things work
  • Likes to point at people then smile
  • Very ticklish around the belly
  • Has 3 teeth…almost 4
  • Comfortable being passed around to family/friends
  • Not too rough on the cat
  • Can entertain himself
  • Can play with Max at train table
  • Captivated by Christmas lights and fans
  • Will eat anything – so easy to feed
  • Lays his head on your chest when sleepy
  • Takes a bath without tears and loves it
  • Learning baby sign language and using it
  • Genuine affection and social skills

Both kids are also stunningly gorgeous and I have no idea how that happened with me as their father…they are clearly 90% from their mom and the other 10% me.  They are so good to each other, though Max often tackles Dodge…out of excitement and not malice.  Max asked Santa for “a big red scooter” because he’d seen one in the book “The Sweet Smell of Christmas” and he got one…but his came from Kate’s folks and Santa took a more passive role in the gift-giving department and played more of a role as “Holiday Ambassador.”  Dodge got many gifts that Max was excited to play with as well and amazingly when Dodge tried to inspect Max’s toys, Max shared as well.  Kate’s parents got the boys an indoor climb-on toy with slide that was a HUGE success, and Max got “Dusty Crophopper” and some other characters from the movie “Planes” which he never relinquished from his tiny grasp.  However, the highlight of the holiday was on the drive home the night before Christmas when Max asked my wife Kate and me, “Can we get something for Santa?”  I explained that we’d put cookies and milk out for Santa but Max meant something more…he wanted to know what we should get for Santa, he wanted Santa to get a gift, he wanted to make sure Santa didn’t feel excluded.

Wrapping Paper!
Wrapping Paper!

I told Max that Santa likes making little boys and girls happy and the best gift we could give him would be to give gifts to other children in our community who don’t have the luxuries we have.  I explained that if we were to give gifts to other children it would also help lessen the load for Santa and this is how he is able to reach so many houses and children on Christmas:  Little boys and girls who help give on his behalf.  Max liked this idea and I did too.  So, post Christmas we are going to round up the toys we don’t play with any more and find them homes for kids in need and want.  As a kid, my family always sponsored a family in need and it was the best shopping you could do, giving a gift to someone who needs something…not just wants it.  However, as my wife pointed out, it is still just another action of shopping.  We both agreed that once Dodge was slightly older we’d dedicate time around the holidays to volunteer at shelters and community centers.  My mother reminded me of when my dad and I peeled potatoes for hours at the shelter when I was young and my whole family helped feed a community on Christmas.  I remembered how insignificant my toys felt after that and how Christmas became more about giving than receiving.

Christmas Dinner
Table Set For Family Dinner

Here’s the hard part…as a dad, I wanted to give my boys everything I could for Christmas to make it amazing.  However, the best part is being together as a family and giving something.  My 2-year-old son reminded me of that when he asked to give something to Santa.  I was reminded of it when he explained to me how the toys and roast beast didn’t make Christmas in Whoville when the Grinch stole them all.  Kids always see things for exactly what they are.  Like when Kate told Max she needed to jump in the shower – then he walked into the bathroom and asked her why she wasn’t jumping.  So this Christmas as Max posed proudly with his new scooter and Dodge played in the mountainous piles of wrapping paper, the best gift was having my wife, two boys, and parents sitting around our Dining Room Table telling stories and laughing together.  I love the presents I got and gave because they are tokens of our affection, but the gifts were (and are) time together.  Max’s number 1 request from Santa (even more than a scooter) was simply a silver bell…which Santa brought.  Max has never read “The Polar Express.”  He’s just a kid that understands the magic of the holidays better than us eager-to-please adults.  Max’s eyes lit up like the Christmas lights he adores so much when he saw his bell and promptly shook it while serenading us with the song “Jingle Bells.”  So, take a deep breath.  Put down the TV remove, walk away from the tablet, and turn on your imagination.  Babies become toddlers, toddlers become kids, kids become young adults, and young adults become adults.  It happens so fast.  This was Dodge’s first Christmas and it feels like Max’s was only yesterday.  I intend to spend my holiday hugging and kissing my boys, rocking Dodge to sleep, playing airplanes with Max, laughing with my family, and cuddling my wife Kate.  Thanks Santa, I got exactly what I wanted for Christmas:  My family.

A Christmas Classic! Max & His Scooter.
A Christmas Classic! Max & His Scooter.

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