Christmas For A Caboose

by Becky on December 14, 2012 · 2 comments

in Parenting, Traditions, Travel

Goose lying on church pew_8428

Tough to be the young one, the Caboose. Far from home. At Christmastime.

So I decided I’d try to stir up a little homemade magic, to create some anticipation. I wanted to keep it simple, so this is what I did. (And it’s working.) Starting two days ago (the twelve-day countdown), for the First Day of Christmas, I presented Mr. Youngest with a short poem–a two-liner–meant to give a clue to the whereabouts of a certain glittery, Christmas-themed, ubercolorful sticker of sorts–like the 3-D kind that scrapbookers often deploy to such great effect.  After listening to the poem and hunting for a bit, he found the sticker efficiently stuck to the keyhole on the front door, at which time he then received a single mint-flavored caramelo (the Spanish refer to all hard candy as “caramelos”) as his prize. Overjoyed, he unwrapped the mint, popped it in his mouth, and, upon learning that this was going to be a daily countdown ritual–poem/clue, then sticker hunt, then small treat–he verily bubbled over with what looked like the most authentic happiness I’d seen all season.

Last night’s poem led him to one of the baskets on one of our bikes, where, inside, a fabulously colorful sticker in the form of a little cluster of wrapped gifts had been carefully attached. He found the sticker, lit up with excitement, then received his second gift: a rolled up sheet of Christmas-green construction paper, out of which he can cut a big Christmas tree (on which to attach the stickers, of course). Raptures! You would have thought someone had given him a ticket to ride the Polar Express.

He’s already asked me if I’ve thought up the poem that will lead him to tonight’s sticker, and I had to confess that I was still working on it.

I’m sharing this little story of putting some temporary sparkle back in my son’s December for three reasons. One. It has required scandalously little effort on my part. Traditionally, I make so much work out of the holidays. In fact, I often work myself into a stupor, getting so uptight about everything being right enough to please me (ah!–a revelation) that I sour my own mood and in some cases others’, too.

Two. Thinking up odd little poems just delights me. Each one features the sticker as “narrator,” offering a cryptic clue to its whereabouts. It. Is. So. Fun.  But that’s the point:  I made a game out of something that already felt like a game.  Doesn’t feel one bit like a holiday “chore.”

Three. The effort’s simplicity frees me to be imaginative! How often do the Orchestrators of the Holidays (often the Moms) confer on themselves the responsibility of being professional set designers, shoppers, pastry chefs, gift-wrap acrobats, party scorers (meaning playlist gatherers, which takes hours, no?), event planners, Christmas card creators, ad infinitum? My mother used to head to bed at about 7 pm on December 25th, after The Meal was officially done.  When I began staging my own family’s holiday experience, I finally realized why!

I’m tellin’ ya. There’s a certain kind of magic in dime-store easiness. Not saying I won’t have fun next year rediscovering all the decorations and other ephemera I’ve spent years laboriously collecting. But hopefully I’ll remember what I’ve learned this month in Spain:  cheap and simple takes absolutely no shine off the moment.  On the contrary, it seems to free the moment up, so the smiles meant to go with it can come out and play.


Karen December 14, 2012 at 8:03 am

Perfect, perfect lesson for me to learn today. And what a tender picture of your little caboose. I’m so glad that you found a way to put a smile on that sad face!

Have a lovely day!!

Becky December 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

That photo. I know, right? Every one of us knows that look, so sad that you feel yourself going all sad, too. Those silly stickers are my new favorite. You can’t even look at one and not want to giggle.

Lovely day right back!

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