While developing a routine for yourself and your children is absolutely critical to being a successful single parent, anything that falls outside of that routine needs to be made into an event, to be lifted up as a spectacle. Whether it is going to Grandma’s house, the zoo, or the children’s museum, every event needs to be celebrated and made into something uniquely memorable. Christmas itself is enough to celebrate, but it is important to make all the little things that are a part of Christmas an event themselves. Here’s to the 3rd Annual Calkins Family Christmas Tree Decoration Event!
I put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, but let the girls know that I was going to wait for them to get back before we put up the ornaments (they spent Thanksgiving in Texas with their mother). It gave me plenty of time to get out all the Christmas decorations, hang up the stockings and the wreath, and prep the house for their return.
After picking them up in Austin, we planned to put up the ornaments the following day on our first full night back. The girls were surprised to see a familiar face though as soon as they got in the house.
Scapey, their Elf on the Shelf, is named (by the girls) because she was able to escape all the places that I put her after she would get in trouble for getting in the cereal, climbing on the Christmas tree, etc.
She has already gotten into some crazy shenanigans this season (she stayed up all night watching Disney+ with their stuffed animals last night) and is sure to get into some more trouble before Christmas arrives.
Elaina started the decorating with an ornament they picked out only a few hours before, one of Elsa from Frozen II.
With that, we started alternating who got to pick an ornament and put it on the tree.
Gabriella chose a kitten ornament that their mother and I purchased in 2007 when we adopted our first cat, Abigail. It was a little sad for me, as Abigail, who we had for almost seven years, ran away from our home about six months after Elaina was born.
It is no secret that I am quite envious of my former in-laws’ Christmas tree. Every single ornament on their tree is unique and has a story attached to it. While I feel that I am getting closer every year, I just do not have the years of acquiring ornaments that they do to reach what I consider to be the pinnacle of Christmas tree decorating (with the Eureka Inn’s annual tree always coming in a close second). For instance, one of the ornaments that I purchased for Elaina this year was that of a Fancy Nancy ballerina. This is because Fancy Nancy is currently one of her favorite series of books, and it will be nice to remember those nights of reading after she outgrows the series (truth be told, I have some of my Curious George ornaments from my youth on the tree too).
One of those that meant something was a Barbie mermaid (that lights up!) ornament that Gabriella picked out. While it probably just looked cool to Gabriella, it reminded me of that period where all they wanted to watch was a movie called Barbie Dolphin Magic, where Barbie and the gang encounter a real mermaid. Everyone that has kids knows that sometimes they want to watch one thing, and only that one thing, no matter how repetitious it becomes.
We have an ornament with the year (2019) we went on our family vacation to Walt Disney World. Everyone that has seen those posts should know exactly how important that vacation was for us.
We have an ornament that honors the service that our family has made in the military, including myself and their mother (Army), their maternal aunts and uncle (all Army), my father (Air Force), their maternal grandfather (Army), and my grandfathers (Navy).
Elaina picked out a kitten ornament to celebrate the arrival of our new cats.
And some are older ornaments that we just keep around to embarrass me. Regardless, I want to have meaning behind everything that we are putting on our tree.
Elaina’s favorite/most memorable ornament was her Baby’s 1st Christmas ornament that she received from my mother. She loves that this was the first ornament she ever received, and that it came in pink.
Elaina asked me what my favorite/most memorable ornament was, which actually took me a while. My first instinct was a Mexican-themed ornament that I received from my parents in 1996. They bought it for me because I was becoming quite proficient in Spanish at the time and was driving my siblings nuts be continually speaking to them in Spanish.
I had to gravitate back to our family Christmas ornament from 2017. Their mother had just left, we did not really know what the future would hold, but we knew that we were happy to spend Christmas together. It was one of the first holidays that showed us things to come and how we would not let anything dictate our enjoyment of the season. A little sad as well, of course, but we made it.
And with that, I give you the Calkins Family Christmas Tree for 2019. Not to sound depressing, but memories like the few above are what my girls are going to have long after I am gone, and are going to populate the stories that they pass on to their children about who their grandfather was and what life was like in our family. Like everything else, I try to make every part of Christmas a big event; I just hope that they are enjoying it as much as I am.
Thanks for checking in on us.