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Recognizing that pivotal moment when your child remembers Christmas = gifts

Christmastime is here! Bring on the spiked eggnog, the ungodly amount of inflatables and the holiday cheer! 

I have always looked forward to Christmas. As a kid, I wanted all the regular stuff. Santa visits at the mall, candy in my stocking and loads of presents. The more presents to shred open, the better. I didn’t care if it was a Barbie dream house or some underwear, a gift was exciting because I could rip it apart.  

Coraline is old enough to remember last Christmas, and that means presents are important again.


As an adult, my desires have become substantially different. Gifts have been unimportant for years. But now that Coraline has genuinely started to turn into a real person, with a memory that spans longer than a goldfish’s, I guess I have to give in. I guess presents have to become important again. 

Change is the only certainty in life – besides death and taxes, of course, and change has hit my home hard. 

For years, Kevin and I celebrated Christmas without gifts. This was my call actually. Kevin’s love for me is beyond what should be real, but his ability to purchase a gift that’s truly meant for me isn’t exactly his strong suit. I would say it’s probably his worst suite. 

I’d regale you with the time he bought me a sound bar (which I didn’t even know what it was) or the time he gifted me a giant Catholic Bible (I’m not Catholic), but those are stories I should tell with a drink in hand. Since I don’t have one currently, we’ll press on. 

Last year, Coraline was 1.75 at Christmas. That tot wasn’t going to remember anything. We put up the tree, had some hot chocolate, and called it a day.  

But you know how fast they grow. Barely doing words one year and literally telling me, “I go to the bathroom. I need privacy. You stay here,” the next year. (FYI, SO PROUD. Though her wiping ability is still questionable.)  

Last year gifts still weren’t needed. This year gifts are kind of mandatory.  

Now, thanks to a bazillion moms sharing too many inspirational and thoughtful memes on Facebook during the holidays over the last decade, I feel like I have a comprehensive understanding of the “Dos and Don’ts for a Kids Christmas.” 

  1. Santa’s gifts. I remember seeing something about a teacher who had to console children after the holidays. Santa gave Milo a phone, an iPad and some new hockey gear for Christmas while Jenna only got some clothes and a Pez dispenser. It left Jenna wondering why Santa doesn’t love her as much as he loves Milo. Heartbreaking. I am not going to be the cause of that. Santa is going to be bringing one STEM-related gift every year and filling her stocking. Everything else, that’s from mom and dad.  
  1. Elf on the shelf. While I love all these hilarious photos of the elf scenes, I am a hard pass on this bad boy. When Coraline eventually asks me, “Why don’t we have an elf on shelf?” I am going to tell her that we wrote a letter to Santa letting him know our new address. He responded back saying that it was unnecessary to send an elf because Coraline was so good. Now, this could change if she turns into a little turd, but so far, so good.  
  2. Donate. One gift in means one gift out. I do not want her to be obsessed with stuff, and I do not want her to think that we just keep all of her stuff indefinitely. Ihave friends whose homes are packed to the gills with toys their kids don’t play with anymore but also can’t part from. I don’t want that. Plus, I love to give back to the community, and I would really love to pass my charitable spirit on to Coraline.  

Things change as we grow and evolve, and I have no doubt that my feelings about Christmas will change as time goes on. Maybe we will start baking a million cookies or really turn up the décor in the next few years. But the things I know for sure are those listed above. Though, and I say this with a very don’t-want-to-do-it heart, that elf on the shelf might show up someday, too.  

What Christmas traditions do you celebrate with/for your kids? I’d love to hear about them! Shoot me an email at [email protected] or send me a message on facebook. (Click the facebook link in my bio.) 

Bitsy McCann
Bitsy McCann owns a boutique graphic design firm in Harrisburg, PA, performs original music all around Central PA, officiates one-of-a-kind weddings, and spends most of her free time obsessing over her husband and toddler. She would absolutely welcome your thoughts and commentary - send her a message on either LinkedIn or Facebook

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