so, last year we went very minimal on the gift end of celebrations. in fact, i dont think we actually got X anything to open, we just did the ceiling decorations. and that turned out to be plenty of entertainment and delight for her. this year, we stepped up the gift giving, but still focused on keeping it minimal. she still has little understanding of the concept of gifts and so she has no expectations or demands around them. i know as the years go on and she is more aware of when gifts are coming and what kind of fun they can provide, she will have more expectations. and that is fine. i just think that if we start with a reasonable pile of gifts and grow the budget and/or size of the gift mountain according to her understanding of gifts, we can end up maintaining a reasonable amount of gifts, as well as imparting a positive and healthy gift giving message.
anyway, to kick off solstice, last night we went to the nearby neighborhood that has over-the-top christmas decorations. we're talking the several million dollar mansions that hire cranes to put up all their lights and decorations. even as an adult, it was pretty magical. X seemed totally mesmerized. she wanted to walk up one of the porches to get a closer look at their giant nutcracker. and she talked for days about the santa that was waving to her from a yard.
and then we headed home, wound down, and got X to bed. then we went about setting up for solstice. we had the 4 snowflakes we cut from last year out and we cut 4 more new ones for this year (we used paper that X had painted on, so her handiwork was a part of the decorations this year). we put them on fishing line and hung them from the ceiling. we also stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, thinking she might get a kick out of that (i neglected to think about the fact that we never play in the room when it is dark, so the glowing is actually rarely seen. silly mama). and then we set out her solstice goodies: a sled, a double-sided dry erase board with cool crayons, rhythm sticks, a jingle bell shaker (this and the sticks were her favorite things from our kindermusik class), and a realistic horse toy (she is bonkers about horses these days).
so, i guess her gifts were just ho-hum this year (in terms of my expectations of her reaction). oh well. i am repressing the feeling of wanting to go out and buy something huge for her, just to make it feel like we got her a big "thing" for the holidays. but, there is always her birthday, and now that she is getting old enough, id like to do little things for each equinox and the summer solstice too. there are plenty of times throughout the year for gift giving. plus, we dont hold back in getting random fun things for her when we see them (we recently went to the thrift store and found a hula hoop and some pretty play scarves).
the rest of the day wasnt bad though. we were tired of cooking and wanted to brave it at a restaurant. dave had seen that rockbottom brewery recently got a well-known brewer to come in and do their beers, and along with his arrival they revamped their entire menu. we were willing to try it again, and hope for a better meal than the one other time we had been there. it turned out to be great! we ordered two sandwiches with the bread and cheese (evil soy lurks in almost all bread) on the side and a mountain of (baked) sweet potato fries. X was very, very pleased and we all cleaned our plates. dave enjoyed the beer this time and best of all, X didnt have any tummy troubles that night. i think that honestly was a first, a restaurant that didnt give us problems. i guess we will be frequenting rockbottom more often!
to finish the night, we watched some of Xs new obsession: the sound of music. she has memorized the "do re mi" song and the "so long, farewell" song. i guess she is on her way to loving the movie as much as i do. and its great that its not a cartoon-y princess movie that would make me want to shoot myself if i had to hear it every week.
and lastly, over night, we got the best winter solstice gift: snow! we had been splashing in puddles, and just like that...we woke up to a blanket of snow. and the snow fell all day. we got to make snowmen and use Xs new sled. so, i guess the only thing that was "so so" about the solstice was her reaction to the gifts, which is just a lingering hang-up i must have from my own past. im looking forward to more winter celebrations.
(playing in puddles on winter solstice [~45F out]; snow the next day!)