Last year, my 3-year-old’s Christmas list consisted of one item: “Orange Slipperry Pants.” (Writing and spelling help provided by her older siblings.) For days and weeks before putting all three kids’ letters to Santa in the mail, we asked our youngest daughter if there was anything else she wanted. Finally, one day, halfheartedly, as if only to get her parents to stop asking, she said “a choo-choo twain.”
The last thing we need is another choo-choo train in our house. We stopped asking the question.
And she continued to spread the word to everyone we know that Santa was going to bring her the Pants. Orange. “Slipperry.”
There was some question about whether Santa would be able to find/make such pants. And yet, with just one item on her “list” how could my daughter not awake Christmas morning to a package containing such a reasonable request?!
This year, at the top of my now-4-year-old’s list? Overalls. Jeans. Lined. There are a few other items, too. Toys, even. But if you ask her, she will tell you she wants “Overalls. Jeans. Lined.”
My daughter is not a clothes horse, though she is the youngest and her wardrobe consists almost entirely of hand-me-downs. She is practical and secure and, as the third child, wanting very little.
Every day we, her father and I, encourage her and her siblings to stretch their imaginations, get messy, explore and be creative as much as possible. We provide crayons and sticks, paints and cotton balls, an art table and shelves of materials half-a-wall wide. Our walls are galleries of our children’s creations. There is paper on practically every surface. A pirate ship (cardboard box) takes anchor on the living-room floor. A fort (blanket draped over the easel) is the coveted space in the dining room/mud room/art room. We cook together, read together, dance together. Our house is loud and messy. Messy. Loud. This drives us crazy as we take pride in the process and the results.
Every day we wonder who our children will become as they get older, as their creativity is challenged with the demands of life, responsibility, growing up. Every day we are amazed and amused at their talents and their frustrations. And as it turns out, the Christmas season for us is not so different from the rest of the year or even from year to year, I guess. Because who’s to say that wearing a pair of Orange Slipperry Pants–even over footie pajamas–isn’t fostering creativity? Or that a 7-year-old flying a remote-controlled airplane isn’t offering the opportunity to explore a wide-open field in a different way. Or that wearing a heart-shaped locket around your dainty 6-year-old neck doesn’t make you think about what’s important and what you could create to keep inside such a special piece of jewelry, which you confessed you thought was too “expensive” to even ask for.
These children of mine are so aware of so much–the cost of groceries, the weather patterns in the Northeast, the way colors can combine to make new colors, the life cycle of a caterpillar. What a joy it is to see them make the connections of want, need, have, and do. What a privilege it is to seek out “slipperry” and “lined” and be certain that a grin or happiness and appreciation will be wide on Christmas morning. And that a gift that seems so very practical is indeed sure to soon be pushed to the limits of its intended everyday use.