As a parent, all I know about Christmas is being a single father. On December 9, 2011, my fiancée passed away after her fight with cancer when our daughter was nine months old. To make matters worse, I wasn’t able to spend that first Christmas with her since her maternal grandparents were secretly trying to attain custody of her on the grounds that they didn’t know where I was which was false. Thinking about how happy she may have been that day was both heartwarming and one of the worse days of my life since I couldn’t be with her and the love of my life was gone.
Two years later, the holidays are still a hard time for me. As opposed to dwelling on the sadness that is now associated with December, I keep myself and Cydney busy by making this the most wonderful time of the year. Best kept secret ever: parents are more excited about Christmas than children.
Somewhere around July I start looking at the commercials during my daughter’s favorite TV shows and look at which ones make her eyes light up. Around October I take Cydney to the Jeffrey Store (that’s the code for Toys R Us so neither she nor my 7-year-old nephew are talking about), let her look around and she knows as soon as she says “I want” it’s time to go. I scout around, maybe sneak a thing or two on layaway, and surprise her and my nephew with a little something. When I put the Christmas tree up, I play Christmas music as she drinks “egg-a-nog.” She plays with the ornaments like they’re toys, and she hands them to me one by one with such enthusiasm. When the kids act up, I put them on the phone with Santa Claus (who is a friend of mine) and he tells them in all of his Yuletide glory to act right because he’s coming soon. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’ll be receiving a letter shortly with a stamp from the North Pole saying that she is officially on the good list.
The key to a flawless execution of Christmas is all about building anticipation. Getting all dressed up to see the big man at the mall, watching all of the movies, and maybe a trip to Rockefeller Center to see the big tree all the while making a huge deal about who and what’s coming up make for sleepless Christmas Eve where everyone’s in a frenzy.
Borrowing from what my parents used to do for my sister and me, after the children are asleep the adults morph into St. Nick by placing the toys all around the tree already put together. This means they can come downstairs and start playing immediately. The deal is that they cannot come downstairs until 6AM which is about five minutes after we’re all finished and in bed. It gives us a good two hour nap. If there are video games, they must go off because all I ask for is to watch the Knicks game on Christmas Day.
Unfortunately, Cydney’s mother never got to experience one Christmas with her ladybug as she called her. Fortunately, she was young enough that she will never remember that. All she will know is how awesome Christmas was that Princess Man (what she calls me) and her family has made for her. In a perfect world, I could be married sooner than later and the only Christmases she’ll know will be spent with a stepmother, making memories and traditions that she will pass on to her children. It will never be a sad holiday for her and as time progresses it will not be so bittersweet for me as well.