Harrison was born in October, just in time for the festive period. Also just in time to be blissfully unaware of everything going on around him right now - and will be for the foreseeable future. If I think back to my childhood, my first proper conceivable memory would have been at 3 years old, at least, I think. I can remember opening a pop-up-tent on Christmas Day, and refusing to leave it for hours. But then again, I don't know wether this is a memory, or a construct of everyone else telling me what happened that Christmas over the years. I certainly can't remember what the hell was going on when I was one year old, and I sure as hell didn't have a clue at 8 weeks old. Already though, we've had so many questions about what we've bought Harrison for Christmas. I know I'm not in the wrong for choosing not to buy him presents this year, but I still can't help but feel judged whenever I confess to this. He's 8 weeks old for christ sake, with a ridiculous amount of aunties, uncles, grans and granddads that will spoil him anyway, regardless of his age - he'd never go without, that much I can assure you, but surely at this age we'd be throwing money away. Even as I write this, I can't help but think how stingy it comes across. I'll be the first to admit, Christmas is important, at least it is to me. But just because we're not spoiling him with expensive and extravagant gifts he won't even comprehend for months to come, doesn't mean Christmas will be any less of an affair.
I swear Santa must be a millionaire. Or at least, that's what we all make him out to be. When did Santa gain this never ending pocket of cash; what happened to the days of a stocking filled with small gifts, one big gift if you were really lucky. Nowadays, Christmas seems to be all about the list and little about celebrating the holiday. I can't really talk about the 'old days' where kids got an apple and that was your lot, I'm 22, not 70, my first Christmas I can actively remember I still had a mountain of presents under the tree, along with my little trampoline, which was the only thing I bothered to touch that morning. Recently, Cash Cow released an infographic showing how much Celebrities are paid for taking part in reality TV shows - ridiculous amounts - but it got me thinking. Will Young was paid only £5000 for Strictly Come Dancing, Stephen Bear only £12,000 for Celebrity Big Brother, I say only, because normally you expect these extravagant numbers to set them for life, when in reality, it wouldn't even cover a childhood of Christmas's at this rate. With every Christmas of my childhood, I can easily say a good two hundred or so was added on to the total - easily, but where does it end. My 11 year old brother *so far* will be receiving a laptop, an X-box, a custom scooter and a tripod from Santa, before any other little things that probably amount to more than his main present. At what point does that stop though, I can't help but be terrified at what will be the social norm for gift giving will be in another 10 years time if that's it now.
Look at Hatchimals. Hatchimals are recommended for 5-7 year olds, and parents are paying hundreds upon hundreds of pounds for them. What 5 year old really needs a £200 hatching egg, alongside the other hundreds of pounds worth of gifts. Yet we don't even question spending the money. Santa needs to tone it down a little bit and tone it down quickly, before I end up completely skint by the time Harrison goes to school...
This year will be a year to start traditions that we can keep up for the next 11, or for however long he allows us to, not for buying stacks worth of gifts. For as long as I can remember we've gone to the pantomime every Christmas Eve, we've been given our 'Christmas Jammies' the night before, and it's something I've came to rely on and look forward to every year - I want Harrison to have the same. Little traditions that he can look forward to, and that make Christmas what it should be - all about family. Jordan will have his own plans also for what he wants to introduce, but I'd imagine I'll be taking the reigns and forcing all things Santa down the little ones throat. Christmas will not be all about presents - not just this year, but every year. This December, as I'm on maternity leave I'll probably be in overload, but I've already began to set in motion my plans for traditional christmases, and there's a few things I refuse to let up on already:
1. The Christmas MarketThis was never a big thing when I was a child - I don't have the memories of strolling the market, it was moreso George Sqaure in Glasgow, and the big wheel that was always there. George Square isn't what it used to be though, and I'd much rather make the effort to travel into Edinburgh to the proper Christmas Markets, and be able to associate the smells, and the noise, and no doubt freezing our asses off in the middle of the Scottish Winter for the sake of a mulled wine and some family time.
2. Christmas Movies Throughout DecemberMy love for Eloise at Christmas Time will never die - and now I have a child I have all the more excuse to have Elf, Home Alone and the Santa Clauses playing on repeat throughout December. For fear of being dumped by Jordan should I start any earlier with Christmas movies than December, hold off until the Christmas month, but then its full steam ahead and we all get to sit down to watch the best movies in the world.
3. Personalised StockingsI love the idea of having the stockings hanging in front of the fireplace with each name on it - I had an old Winnie The Pooh one as a child, and then switched to a Dancing Reindeer one when I got too old and mature for Winnie, but I still get the same excitement pulling it out of the deccies box, even now. It had nothing to do with what went in the stockings - my parents were lucky if they remember to shove a pack of batteries and a lipgloss in their, they always managed to forget to use them - it was just being able to see them hanging, warm and fuzzy feeling all around. (If anyone happens to have any ideas as to where to pick up good quality personalised stockings or 3, then please let me know!)
4. A Bauble Every YearI have a feeling I should stay off Pinterest in the run up to the festive period - already it's giving me waaaay to many wild ideas, and being on MAT leave I can't help but wonder if I'll end up with a house like a grotto come the 25th. I can't remember the exact Pin, if I find I will link, but it essentially suggested either making or buying new Christmas Baubles for each family member every year, that have something to do with that year - and then for every year after, when you pull out your baubles to decorate the tree, you'll be able to reminisce on the year by whats on the bauble. It's just another keepsake that I think will be lovely to have in years to come. So far, I've managed to amass a ridiculous collection of Babies First Christmas baubles, so should probably calm it down or there will be no room for any other year...
Bauble can be purchased at Not On The High Street.
5. Gingerbread HousesThis was something I'd just started doing with my brother in the past few years - and every time it's a complete and utter waste of gingerbread, but a fun thing to do, and something to look forward to at Christmas time. We were never skilled enough to make the gingerbread from scratch and simply reverted to decorating the pre-made houses with icing, but that was more than enough, and will still be more than enough when we carry it on.
There's no reason Christmas should revolve around presents - and there's no reason for me to have to feel bad about not spoiling my child with them when he is this young. It is a personal choice, and each family will be different, but I'd rather be able to put the money into doing activities and experiences with him in the future, that he'll at least be able to look back on in pictures, or be told about for years to come, than on toys with no meaning at such a young age. People will judge you no matter what decision you make with a baby, I've only just had mine and I've already noticed this - every decision will displease someone, so I may as well make the one that suits us best. I will take the end of this post to apologise to Jordan in advance for how ridiculous I will get at Christmas time - if he thought I was bad before, he doesn't know what he's in for with a child.