Meredith’s Musings: Merry Christmas, Baby Bird
by Meredith McKinnie
Christmas is in a few weeks, and it will be my daughter’s first one. She’s only 3 months old now, and completely oblivious to the season. She’s aware of the nip in the air, as she grips her fingers and toes tight when I take her out on a cold day. She’s wearing long sleeve onesies too, even though the temperature in the house is regulated, and she rarely leaves the premises. At night I wrap her in my grandmother’s thick quilt instead of the summer version with the wider holes. But as the days and weeks pass, the pressure mounts, the pressure of Baby’s first Christmas. I’m her mother. And it’s completely up to me.
Husband and I didn’t even put up a tree last year, as we spent the holiday in Texas with Husband’s family. I hung our stockings on the wall, mostly because I just adore the one I’ve had since childhood, but no tree. Bah Humbug! Most of the gifts were ordered online and sent directly to Texas anyway where Nana wrapped most of them. Admittedly, we were lazy last year, a lazy Christmas couple. I felt guilt about it afterward, as if we didn’t revel in the season enough. But this year, well, it matters. We will be creating traditions for her, hopefully ones she’ll remember for years to come, and perhaps continue with her own family. It’s easy as new moms to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves, the mirror of social media reminding us how we should be doing more. I’m pretty good at ignoring all that day-to-day, but there’s something about Christmastime. I want it to be perfect, maybe because some of my best memories revolve around the holiday.
Mom brought home a stocking for Baby Bird the other day. It was white with red polka dots and green pom pom trim around the top. Surprisingly, I loved it. I may have even picked it out myself,. Mom knows when it comes to my daughter, I like simplicity, no big dramatic bows that swallow her head, no Disney character-coated outfits, just simple statement pieces. But having fretted over her name and loving how it looks in print, I wanted her name on the stocking. Mom said the monogramming store couldn’t do it, something about the sleeve of the instrument used to make the letters not being long enough. It bothered me. And it shouldn’t have. She won’t notice this year. I was getting caught up in this fabricated idea of holiday perfection.
I know perfection is a myth, especially when it comes to parenting. Some people can make it pretty for pictures, but life isn’t storybook. Milestones don’t unfold the way we plan them to. And the most genuine moments are spontaneous. They creep up on an average Tuesday night when our daughter smiles at us for the first time. She didn’t smile on the milestone blanket to mark her 2-month birthday, but she did in Husband’s arms. And even better, we both caught it. The best moments don’t make the picture roll. We just have to be present enough to pay attention.
So I’ve decided to let her first Christmas happen. We chose a tree, not the biggest and brightest one, but a good sturdy tree with a solid base at a reasonable price. I’m hanging her stocking with no name because it’s the one her grandmother got just for her, and that makes it special enough. I’m going to bake and fill the house with smells, not for a picture, but for a moment. And most of all, I’m going to try and relax and soak in more than I create, just let the season evolve. I’d rather catch her smile at me again in the twinkle light of the sturdy tree than have a perfect family photo alongside monogrammed stockings. It’s not just Baby’s first Christmas, but our first as a family too. And it will show us what it’s meant to be.