Spending the Christmas holidays in two different countries not only implies the use of two different languages, but adapting to two different cultures. To an adult this can prove challenging, especially if you are not used to different traditions and customs during the Christmas season, but to a child who grew up this way, nothing is strange… not even having two days with presents and two Christmas trees.
My boys have spent every Christmas with some time spent in England (before Christmas) and then Christmas day and the rest of the holiday in Italy. Despite being British, they never had turkey and roast potatoes; they are accustomed to lasagne and Italian antipasti instead.
I think sometimes they are confused between Santa and Babbo Natale. Is he one fat person in a red suit or two different ones? As long as he keeps on bringing presents, I don’t think they will mind though.
What I found most unusual is that every year the boys open their English presents on the 23rd and their Italian presents on the 25th. As a consequence, they think it’s normal to spend Christmas Eve at the airport!
If my Christmas holidays were a movie it would have had to be a 5 out of 5 stars. It had everything! Drama (the cancelled flight to Italy), surprise (visiting the English grandparents earlier) and a little sadness (missing my mum’s birthday). It also had some suspense (when the new flight was late and we didn’t know if it was going to be cancelled again) and even a grand finale with a trip to lake Maggiore on the first of January.
Next year though, I would rather have a boring Christmas with no cancelled flight and avoiding arriving on Christmas Eve at 2AM. That’s cutting it too close for conformt.
The boys are getting the idea of Christmas although it’s still more about the lights and decorations that about the birth of Jesus or the presents giving and receiving. Also this year we focused on the introduction to reindeers. In December we went to a theatre performance called “How do reindeers fly?” which took the boys right into the Christmas spirit. They loved it from start to end. Their little eyes showed so much concentration!
If there’s one thing we need to work on before next Christmas is the presents. Although the vast majority of presents were really good and enjoyed by the twins. We had too many “opening days”. We opened some on the 22nd with the English grandparents, some on Christmas morning (obviously!), the “socks” on the Epiphany (Italian tradition), but we still have their biggest present to open yet! It is too big to transport so we didn’t take it to either Suffolk or Italy and now we don’t really know when to give it to them… mmh… it’s the middle of January!!!
I asked a co-worker, who has a 4 and a 5 year old, when will my boys get interested in Christmas and she told me her kids started to really enjoy Christmas at the age of 3. A day later she came back and said that actually despite the fact that they won’t realise what it is all about, at about 18 months they will understand the “magic”. This made me really observe the twins this weekend…
The twins are 15 months this December, so I didn’t expect them to understand the true meaning of Christmas this year, but what they can join in with? Obviously they will be able to open their presents this year. A true step forward from last year, when they couldn’t even hold their heads up!
I’m also assuming that they won’t get the idea of Santa and, as they can’t talk, they won’t be able to ask for a specific present. So why even buying them a present? I don’t wanna sound evil or something along that line, but any present that you buy for a 15 month old would be more for your enjoyment than anything else. You will undoubtedly enjoy playing with them or watching them play with the toy you bought. So how much should you really spend on a toy that they won’t remember and they might not even like? Well, my answer is “not much”. This year I really didn’t spend much on a present for the boys and I spent more in decorations. Why? Well if you could see B’s face while watching the Christmas lights you will know I was right. No present I can think of will ever paint that expression on a toddler’s face: pure amazement.
I have a lifetime in front of me to spoil them rotten with presents, so this year I won’t do it… but I will take them travelling, make them try new and exciting food, I’ll make them “smell” Christmas, we will spend time with our huge Italian-English family and, with a little luck, show them their first snow. I will show them some Christmas magic.