Victoria Jelinek

The Baby Diaries 19
December 25, 2013, 2:43 pm
Filed under: The Baby Diaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” Erma Bombeck

vin chaudWhen my first nephew was a child, I remember thinking that Christmas was definitely for children. He “oohed” and “aahed” at the Christmas lights, the decorations, the colourfully wrapped packages, and his excitement for everything was so palpable that it became infectious for us grownups, making our Christmas truly joyous and warm-hearted.

Now I have a child of my own. And I’m in the French Alps, which is an idyllic setting for the holidays. It’s snowing here as I write, and the chalets everywhere are emitting tufts of smoke from their chimneys. There are Christmas lights along the streets, and a huge Christmas tree in the village square. Moreover, there are all sorts of activities in honour of the Christmas season: Pere Noel (Santa Claus), will pass through the village on a sleigh Christmas Eve and Christmas day; the local community centre hosts animated Christmas films most evenings; there are carollers and little musical concerts with flutes and violins and even accordions; snow “sprites” will ski down the slopes all day Christmas Eve; there is a torchlight ski with the children from the local school skiing in decorative formations down the slopes; there are Christmas story readings at the local bibliotheque (library); and, of course, Midnight Masses in every chapel and church that dots the countryside. Additionally, each of these celebrations provides the additional luxury of vin chaud (hot wine) and chocolat chaud (hot cocoa), courtesy of our local mairie’s office (and our various habitation taxes – fees we pay to live in the province). I intend to take my son to most of these events, even if he can’t quite grasp what is happening. My hope is that some part of his brain will register the festivities, the gathering of people in song, music and celebration, and it will begin his love affair with this season of the heart. At home, I find myself singing the classic Christmas songs to him, such as “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas” in anticipation for his understanding the pleasure of this season.

But I may be optimistic. Just short of nine-months-old, my wee one is able to pick up a toy and throw it, but not to crawl over and grab it, so I’m not sure if his sensory register is sophisticated enough to make any connections between the specific time of year and the celebration. He’s also eating a mushed up version of Christmas dinner, that doesn’t quite give the same pleasure as loading one’s plate full of gorgeous, especially tasty offerings…ah well, it’s an excuse to attend the festivities and to eat to my heart’s content!



Your First Christmas 2011
December 31, 2011, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Letters to Leo | Tags: , , , ,

It was your first Christmas this year. Since spending the winter holidays with Danny (your cousin) when he was just under two years old, I’ve believed that Christmas is best when shared with children. The wonder and the magic of it all…the lights, the decorations, the gifts, the music, the stories, the cartoons, and the celebratory spirit shared with family and friends.

Your father and I took you to see the Christmas tree and Maire’s office lit in the town square, and enjoyed a glass of vin chaud while you shook your little legs in excitement at the crowds and watched all the kids running around. We took you to see Pere Noel as he sat in the back of a horse-drawn cart (really!) while you rather rudely stared at the people behind us smoking. We took you to see carolers and a flutist while you played with my scarf. We bought you your first sled and took you out for a wee slide in the first, big snow of the season while you chuckled as Oscar (our family cat) bounded around in the snow and “harrumphed” at us for making you wear mittens. We kept you up past your bedtime on both the 24th (your father’s Christmas) and the 25th (my Christmas) so that you could eat with us while you dangled a straw from your high chair for Oscar to play with.

While you certainly enjoyed the fact that your father, me and Oscar were with you all day, and you enjoyed the ribbons on and from the presents (as Oscar does), I’m not convinced that you understood or cared that it was Christmas, with all the attending activities, and that you got some new clothes and toys. You’d go nude if you could, my little savage, and anything to bite on will do to play with.

Being a spring baby like your cousin Danny (your four days apart in terms of the month born), you, too, will be just under two years old next Christmas. I’m positive the greediness of later childhood will not have set in yet (or ever, I hope) and like him, you’ll marvel at the lights, the decorations, the gifts, the music, the stories, the cartoons, and the presence and activity of family and friends. I look forward to our future Christmases together, particularly in the picturesque Alps, and to introducing you to this ‘season of the heart.’