6 Things I Learned About Christmas With A Toddler

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

This is the first year that Miss Rose, now aged 3, has really been aware of Christmas.  She enjoyed it previously, or she enjoyed being given things and getting a lot of attention, but this time she actually looked forward to it.  She understood the concept or Father Christmas, knew why she was hanging up her stocking, and asked for specific things.  She was excited.

These are the things I have learned about Christmas when you’re experiencing it through the eyes of a toddler.

1. Santa Is Scary

We raced down the street with excitement to catch the Rotary Club Santa on his sleigh.   We rode a train with quaint Victorian decor.  We had a full English breakfast with a flirty Santa who chatted up all the mums.

Miss Rose hid under tables, peered out from behind my legs and refused to go near him for the most part.  The excitement about him coming into our house was palpable, he would bring gifts and see our Christmas tree, but i think if he’d been coming into her bedroom things would have been different.  He’s a scary old man and, lets be honest, men are scary at the best of times.

Photo credit Unsplash

Photo credit Unsplash

2.  Santa Is Disappointing

Miss Rose asked her first Santa for a Ninja Turtle.  She got a lollipop.  She asked her second Santa for a Ninja Turtle.  She got a set of plastic ponies.  She asked her third Santa for a Ninja Turtle.  She got a jewellery set.  She asked her fourth Santa for a Ninja Turtle.  She got a dinosaur.

By the time Christmas Eve came and she had hung up her stocking by the fireplace and left out a mince pie and some beer, she was quite certain that Santa wouldn’t come through and she’d never get sight nor smell of a genuine Ninja Turtle.  She recounted her experiences and told me everything Santa had given her and how she had cried.

I must hasten to add that Miss Rose is not ungrateful, indeed she will delightedly accept even the most benign gift with genuine glee.  However, after a while she found the promise of asking Santa for  a gift and him not coming through for her, despite all the stories, to be incredibly disappointing.

Christmas morning it was all worth it though.  Michael-Angelo was held aloft with triumphant glee and smothered with kisses whilst joyous screeches of excitement flooded the room.

3. It Can All Get A Bit Much

Miss Rose adored Christmas.  She loved the stocking, she loved the gifts, and she loved seeing family.  She also reached melting point where the excitement of it all just got too much.  And then she imploded.

With a belly full of food, a car boot full of new bicycle, and arms full of more Ninja Turtles (word soon got out to the grandparents of Britain), she passed out in the car, was then transferred to the sofa, and she remained unconscious for two hours.

Photo credit Public Domain Images

Photo credit Public Domain Images

Christmas gets a bit much for me.  I like quiet time and I like alone time, and the constant barrage of family and friends and late nights and busy days that come with Christmas time get too much for me.  As an adult I can wait until bedtime, curl up on my pillow and block out the world.  As a toddler you have no choice and no control and no understanding.  And you’re tired and wound up.  And it’s hard.

4. The Magic Is Real

When I was a little girl I thought Christmas was pure magic.  The baubles reflecting the twinkle lights, the smell of the tree, the joyful music.  The wonder of flying reindeer, the excitement of gifts, the taste of all the amazing food.  Having my mum at home for a day and playing games with my brother.  The banging of my heart as I tiptoed into my mum’s bedroom at 5am to ask if I could wake up yet and the almost overwhelming excitement as I peered round the edge of the stairs to see my filled stocking.  Magic.  There is no other word that can accurately describe those feelings.

As age took over, and a degree of cynicism (which baring in mind how much I love Christmas is not a lot of cynicism but just enough), the magic faded and reality took over.  I still loved it, but it wasn’t magic.  Then I became a mum.

On Christmas Eve, as the children slept in their beds, The Boy and I carefully pushed dinosaurs and spinning tops, chocolate coins and bubble wands into their stockings.  I felt it.  I felt the magic.

When Miss Rose snuck into our bedroom at 630 and whispered in my ear “Mummy it’s Christmas, Santa’s been!” I felt the magic.  As I followed her round the corner and saw her spot her filled stocking and her desperately wanted Ninja Turtle, I felt the magic.  I felt it in such innocent childhood purity that it was undeniable.  Magic.  No other word.

5. Everyone Needs To Detox

The kids get given A LOT of chocolate (which it is our moral duty to share).  Our fridge is still full of chocolate which, baring in mind how much we ate over Christmas, is what led to our motto.  Worry about it in January.

The kids are hepped up on sugar.  I’m hepped up on sugar.  The Boy is hepped up on beer and sugar.  With Christmas, Boxing Day, meals with friends and New Years Eve all happening in close proximity, there is literally no point in worrying about it yet.  Because every time you think “I’ll get it sorted”, another person comes by or another party is organised.

Worry about it in January.  The kids will be offered no snacks but fruit and veg, and I will be ingesting kale at lightning speed.  Until then?  Chocolate orange counts as a fruit… right?

6. Children Disappear In Wrapping Paper

How I dug our kids out I have no idea.  Literally none.  I thought I’d have to go in with a mining hat and some rope.  Possibly a budgie.

The craziness of toys and wrapping paper everywhere was insane.  It took me two days just to get our living room straight and I can’t even begin to look at the chaos that reigns in our kitchen or bedrooms.  It is insane.  The Boy and I get thoroughly spoiled at Christmas and our friends and family are the epitome of generosity.  But those kids?  Good grief.  They are loved and they are surrounded by people who want to show it.  The result is absolute sheer madness as heaps of gifts and debris take over the house.

Photo credit Cathryn 020

Photo credit Cathryn 020


Christmas was amazing.  Christmas was exhausting.  Christmas was magical.  The highs of family and gifts, the lows of exhausted child meltdowns, and the all around gloriousness of food.

Bring on 2016!

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!



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