Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Simplicity of Christmas through a Child's Eyes

By Christina VanGinkel

We put up our Christmas tree, a pre-lit version, and had intended on decorating it as we have through the years with a varied assortment of decorations, with many of them glass. With no small children in the house, and our grandson not due back until just a few days before Christmas, we thought that this would be fine. When our grandson did come back, we figured that we would just take special care in watching him around the tree, more for his safety than the safety of our ornaments. In the meantime, between actually putting up the tree and getting it decorated, our grandson ended up staying over one more day due to an ice storm hitting the Midwest last evening and this morning.

The tree has only a few snowflakes, made of paper, hung, and the tree skirt in place, but that is it. That our grandson was fascinated by it in its beautiful simplicity is putting it mildly. At 28 months old, and a vocabulary normally bubbling forth, he was silent as we lit it. He then picked up his stuffed mouse, a version from the ever-popular Beanie line, about eight inches tall and with dangly arms and legs, and asked if his mouse could live in the tree. My husband and I looked at each other and figured why not, and helped him place the mouse amongst the mostly bare branches. He then proceeded to run around the room announcing to everyone and no one in particular that there was a mouse in Nana's house!

The mouse has been moving from branch to branch all morning, much to the delight of our grandson, though we have been careful to be sure that he never sees the mouse make a move. Such a simple thing, and he is having so much fun.

With the hustle and bustle that surrounds the holidays, it is often too easy to become overwhelmed with all the getting, and overlooking the giving, especially when there are children involved. We overlook the simple things, when that is what we should actually be seeking out, a bit of peace amidst the craziness. We feel as if we must get them every new toy advertised, and if we do not, they will somehow be neglected. This display with the bare tree and the mouse was a good reminder for me that sometimes kids like simple too.

Be sure to take time this busy holiday season, even if it means one less trip to the mall, and spend some time with your children doing something simple. Read them a Christmas story, cut out some cookies to bake and eat them together when they are still warm from the oven, look at the lights on the tree, and if your child or grandchild happens to have a favorite stuffed toy and they ask you if it can live in the tree, don't immediately say no. At least consider the fun that you can both share as that toy moves from branch to branch, bringing a bit of holiday imagination to life in the eyes of your favorite child.

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