I’m getting in the Christmas spirit. Admittedly, last year I was a bit bummed not to have my whole family together for Grant and Maria’s first Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, it was still fun even though my brother and his family were living in Germany, but I think this year is going to have a whole different feel.

I gave Grant and Maria their first gift on Friday. It’s a singing and pouncing dog that I got in a silly Christmas gift exchange at work. I thought they, especially Maria, would be exceptionally pumped about this dog. She might have been had it not been for the initial trauma inflicted on her by said dog. The thought never occurred to me that it might accidentally get turned on during opening and forever terrorize her against mechanical animals. As she lifted the dog from the bag, he started his rendition of Deck the Halls and Maria freaked out. Grant stood beside watching and smiling as I filmed the terror. Jeremy was across the house and heard the situation unfold and started cracking up. Does laughing at her sheer terror make us bad parents? She continued to scream and back away from the dog, now named Trauma. I stopped filming and she ran to me and climbed up my body to get away from the ferocious beast. She stayed glued to me for some time and when Trauma was sitting out she’d take a wide berth around him. We’ve spent the weekend trying to get Maria to warm up to Trauma but to no avail. She was brave enough to hold him, but dropped him and bolted when she pressed his “on” button. Grant thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread and will play with him for hours on end if we let him.

In addition to traumatizing Maria, we put the Christmas tree up for the first time since 2004. The first year we didn’t put it up we had a legitimate reason. We were getting ready to move and didn’t need to be taking anything out of boxes. The subsequent years were really just laziness and a lack of desire to deal with the cats’ tree antics. I limited our Christmas decorations to my nativity scene and a brushed metal art deco tree that I got at a local art fair. But, this year it was time to pull the ole Charlie Brown tree back out of the box. Grant and Maria were super excited and “helped” me with the lights and ornaments. After the tree was decorated, it proved to be much too tempting for both the cats and the kids and it is now in protective custody behind the baby cage. You do what you’ve got to do.

Christmas is right around the corner and I’m working on focusing on its real meaning, rather than getting caught up in the commercialism that is everywhere. It’s not about Santa Clause and parties and presents. Yes, we might laugh about a Christmas dog named Trauma for years to come but the season is about birth of Christ and we’ll work to ensure that Grant and Maria don’t forget the reason for this season.

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