Jesus uses the Potty: A Christmas Story

Last week, Owen and I built our first snowman of the year. The snow was powdery and impossible to pack together, but we made a little mound and then another one, and found some wood chips and branches for the eyes, nose, and arms. When we were finished (or so I thought), Owen said, “But the snowman need a penis for pee-pee in the potty.” Of course he does. So I (ever encouraging potty training) obligingly supplied a small twig in an appropriate location. We made this wee (wee-wee) snow man at the park… I kind of hope no one looked too closely.

When I was a teenager, and well into my adulthood, my family attended the candlelight Christmas eve service at a Presbyterian church in Rockburn. We weren’t Presbyterian (and we dropped into church one day a year), but it’s the prettiest church around, and I think it’s the closest one to my parents’ house. Because it’s situated in a rural area and because of generally dwindling attendance, this church always had a hard time finding ministers. One year, there was no minister at all, and the congregation had decided to put on the Christmas Eve service themselves. Children were sent up to the altar to read heartwarming poems they’d written about the magic of Christmas. Adolescents and adults read about the Nativity. The choir is always wonderful, so we heard solos and duets, and then joined in for the choruses. We held our candles and sang “Silent Night.” The most “creative” part of the service was a reenactment of “Mary and Joseph: The Untold Story.” Two parishioners went to the front of the church and, acting as Mary and Joseph, proceeded to have an argument about which one of them was going to change Jesus’ diaper. I think they were trying to humanize the holy couple, but the whole thing left me kind of aghast.

Anyway, at some point before Christmas, in an attempt to show Owen that the holiday was not simply about Santa Claus and presents, I told him the story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay for the night so Mary could have her baby. It’s a beautiful story – I’d forgotten how human it is. A pregnant mother seeking lodging must finally accept shelter in a barn with animals. Mary (and Jesus) are so vulnerable in this account, and I guess the presence of the animals have appealed to children through the ages. After I told him this story, and throughout the Christmas season, Owen would every now and then ask me to draw baby Jesus, or make baby Jesus out of play-dough. Tonight, I was tired, so I explained to Owen how I made baby Jesus out of play-dough. We made a round head, a longer body, and then a blanket (the swaddling clothes). But Owen, toddler that he is, soon took off Jesus’s blanket and held him over one of the empty play-dough containers.

“I have to take off baby Jesus’ blanket.”

“Why do you have to do that, Owen?”

“I want baby Jesus to go potty,” he said.

Of course you do.

When asked whether he himself would like to go, the reply was a breezy “Not yet. After supper.” Meanwhile, he peed (and pooped) in his diaper.

(I’ll just let you guess what I was thinking).

Merry Christmas, 2011

This was the first Christmas that Owen actually understood about Santa. We wrote Santa a letter. I wish I’d kept a copy of it, but it went essentially like this: “Dear Santa, I would like some blocks, some new feet, some music and some candy. Thank you. Love Owen.” We mailed it together and waited patiently for a reply. The reply is kind of a form letter (Santa has many obligations), but Owen still loves it. Even this morning, 6 days after Christmas, he asked me to take down the letter he got from Santa to read to him. On Christmas Eve, he carried Santa’s cookies into the living room all by himself (I carried the milk), and he “wrote” another note:

Rutabaga is a word we now use instead of “cheese” for pictures, as well as being one of the words we use to get him to open his mouth while brushing his teeth (with alfalfa, Nova Scotia, and phantasmagoria).

The next morning, Santa had replied (and eaten the cookies, of course):

Santa came through and managed to find Owen everything on his list, including the new feet. You can see them, below:

I’m assuming that Santa made them in his workshop, but similar ones are available here. Owen calls them his Max Slippers, after the protagonist of Where The Wild Things Are. There’s no listing for the slippers alone, but maybe they would do a custom order? The magnificent kitchen was a huge hit, and came courtesy of us, Erin and Nico, and Grandmum and Granddad. Owen has been making his specialties, grilled cheese soup and alphabet soup (made with the magnetic letters from the fridge).

I made him a dinosaur tail, but he wouldn’t stay still long enough to let me take his picture properly. The pattern was found at the Running with Scissors blog. I got the idea from here (thanks for the inspiration, Medrie!).

His favourite present may have been plastic leaping frogs ($4.95!). Finally, a game he can actually play:

All in all, we had a pretty great Christmas morning. I’ll hopefully get to post more about our day (continued at my parents’) later on…

Merry (belated) Christmas, everyone!

Christmas Overload

We had three Christmases this year: one in Halifax, one at home, and one at my parents’ house. Ordinarily, I would consider this to be a wonderful blessing, and it is (in a way) but this year it felt like – as wonderful as the presents were – there might have been too many gifts. Not to mention too much food. (Luckily, there was just enough wine).

Owen, to my surprise, felt surfeited too. Both at his grandparents’ house and here, he tired fairly quickly of opening presents. His favourite gifts from me have been washable markers and a box of stacking Dado cubes that I found on ebay for $5. (A note: these blocks are great but if you order Dado cubes from that website, the shipping is $25 to Canada). But once Owen had discovered these presents, Duncan and I had trouble convincing him to open more.

“Owen, look, there might be a book about a dog and a cat – do you want to open the present?”

“No, no, no,” he would reply, shaking his head.

“Owen, what about this package. Do you want to see what’s inside?”

“No, no, no,” he would say, turning back to a present he had just received 5 minutes before.

It makes sense, though. He wanted to play with what he had.

We waited another two days to open the last three presents, and I was seriously considering squirrelling them away until his birthday in June. As it is, he now has enough toys to last him for a couple lifetimes of toddlerdom. The amount of baby paraphernalia we have accumulated in 18 months is staggering. I feel like I should already be liquidating our stock, sorting and giving stuff away – except, I think, what if we had another child? So I am hanging on for now, with some reticence.

On a related note, speaking of overload, we have approximately a dozen boxes of homemade Christmas cookies left over from our party yesterday. Anyone hungry? Come on over!

Happy New Year everyone.

The Christmas Tree

Getting the Christmas tree up this year has been dramatic. I’m in Halifax, at my in-laws’, so it is not my tree and not my house, and there are many wills to be placated: many wanting to put the tree up, many wanting to delay. I don’t remember a year when decorating the tree has been this dramatic, but then I mythologize my childhood, blocking out any memories of boredom and strife.

Anyway, we finally got the green light to decorate the tree today, but not yet, later… I really wanted Owen to get a chance to put some ornaments on the tree, and I knew that later would mean 8-9:00, after he was in bed. So together, we quietly started on the bottom of the tree and, as anticipated, Owen was captivated by the experience. I tried to have him place ornaments that he would recognize: apples, birds, men and women, Santa. He especially liked when there were two or three of a kind, and would go back and forth pointing to one soldier, two soldiers, three soldiers.

I am happy that we were able to trim the tree together.

Wishing all of you who read this blog a very merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and a relaxing beginning of winter (if you don’t).

Much love,