Many of you ended your Winter Break on January 2nd, but my kids were still on vacation all last week. For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to take the kids on two separate trips over vacation, coming back to the city for New Year’s Eve in between, because I have a tradition of spending it with my friend Emily and this year was particularly important.
We spent the first week in LA (blog post coming soon) and one week in Park City (did you see Harlow ski like a professional on Instagram???) and finally got home at 6am this past Saturday.
Just to be clear and so you can see the full extent of the torture we put our kids through— we made the kids leave on Christmas morning for LA, stayed from Monday through Friday, coming home just as they were getting used to the time change. Then we let them stay up until after midnight on New Year’s Eve, made them leave for a flight at 7am the next morning to Park City, woke them up at 7:30am the following morning to get to ski school by 9am, repeated this for four days straight, and then took them home on a Red Eye this past Saturday.
This is like “How Not to Parent 101.”
For any of you Bedtime and Napping Nazis out there, I can see you guys shaking your heads at me. I DESERVE IT.
Harlow fell asleep on the Red Eye home but Mazzy stayed up the ENTIRE TIME. The draw of unlimited access to the airplane entertainment way too great to pass up.
I get it, Mazzy— I stayed up to watch the entirety of The Sinner. A show, I might add, that is very questionable to have playing while your kids are sitting next to you. But, I kept checking and they seemed totally absorbed in their own shows and weren’t even glancing in my direction. Still, it felt WRONG. I mean, not wrong enough to stop watching, but you get what I mean. As a side note, even when the kids are not there, it feels really weird to be watching certain things when you are sitting on a plane and everyone can see your monitor. At one point I turned on an Andy Samberg HBO comedy about the Tour de France and there was full frontal nudity! Even Mike was like, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WATCHING???” I was like— “It’s a mockumentary about bicycling! It seemed so innocent!”
But I digress.
Mazzy finally fell asleep at 6am as we taxied to our gate in New York. Good times.
“Mazzy, wake up, we’re home! I mean, not really home. We’re in a plane and still have to wait for our stuff at baggage claim. Cool? Now put on this heavy backpack and carry it out into the freezing cold!”
Seriously, we arrived in New York to 3 degree temperatures. We nearly froze to death waiting for our car and my kids deserved every tear of their very predictable meltdowns.
As a reward, when it was all over, we let the girls watch television for two solid days.
FYI, I have now decided that family TV viewing is way preferable to my kids watching their own iPads. During our vacation, Mazzy and Harlow developed a love of Shark Tank (which is always on for some reason!) and it has been one of the happiest things that has ever happened to our family. It’s teaching an entrepreneurial spirit, no??? And good business sense! I am on board.
Today is their first day back in school. I love them both to death, but I am REALLY happy to be back at work. I wish I could roll into 2018 and start anew, but as you know, the end of the year isn’t just holiday season in the Wiles household, it is also “Birthday Season,” so I’ve been very busy and have to play a bit of catch-up.
Do you mind if I share a thing or two about our holidays? I believe we covered Hanukah but I still want to talk Christmas and New Year’s.
First of all, I want to address some questions on Instagram about why we celebrate Christmas even though both Mike and I are Jewish.
I get it. I grew up without a Christmas tree and never imagined I would have one, but it seems, in my circle of Jewish friends in New York City, we have all softened on this issue. It was a slippery slope that has everything to do with our children. I think it’s a combination of social media (I knew I was missing out on Christmas when I was growing up, but I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH until I was following everyone on Instagram) and also something about today’s parents wanting to give their kids every opportunity for magic. How can I pass that up???
Also, if you want to get technical, I celebrated Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle’s house (my Aunt is Christian) when I was little. We had stockings and presents under the tree. Then, for years, I celebrated Christmas with my father after he married my stepmother who is Roman Catholic. A few years ago, the first year Mazzy was old enough to understand the holidays, we took the kids to my dad and stepmom’s house in Rhode Island to celebrate Christmas. My stepmother had the whole house decorated, a huge tree in the living room, stockings and a big meal planned for the night before. We did the whole thing. Decorating a separate children’s tree she had put in the den, leaving out milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, and tons of presents to unwrap in the morning. It was awesome. I really thought Christmas in Rhode Island was going to be our family tradition going forward.
Then, for reasons I am not going to get into, my dream of a Rhode Island Christmas tradition didn’t materialize. The next year, we ended up going to Jamaica with Little Miss Party and crew, where the hotel threw a big Christmas party. Santa came in by boat, he gave gifts and the kids were totally enamored with it all.
Cut to the following year and for the first time, we were spending Christmas at home. We went to our house with my sister’s family (also all Jewish) and had to make a decision. Were we doing Christmas? That year, Christmas and Hanukah overlapped, so we had all the presents. It was just a matter of whether or not we were buying a tree.
On the day before Christmas, my sister and I decided to surprise everyone. We went to the local nursery and bought the smallest tree in the lot, which was potted and could be replanted in the yard. Planting a tree seemed like a very Jewish thing to do. I bought a strand of colored lights and a box of mini ornaments too. The kids were so excited. Mazzy fashioned a Jewish star out of pipe cleaners to put on the top. I also happened to have some fancy stockings from a sponsored post I had done and put those out as well.
And so, our Chrismukkah tradition was born. The kids put out cookies for Santa, carrots for the reindeer and a glass of milk. Then we lit the Hanukah candles before going to bed.
“Do you think Santa will come to our house even though we’re Jewish,” the kids asked.
“I don’t know. We’ll see…”
He came. Santa brought one gift for each kid, plus the stuff in the stockings and then all the other presents were from us.
This year, even though Hanukah was over well before Christmas, we did the same. It’s kind of like, once you start, you can’t take it back. My sister and her family spent the weekend just like last year. Again, the day before Christmas, we bought the smallest tree in the lot, one that could be replanted.
Mazzy found the pipe cleaner Jewish Star she made last year.
I had made some new photo ornaments (thanks again to a sponsored post!) with pictures of the kids (Jack and Neve included) all celebrating Hanukah and Christmas in previous years.
Allie also contributed a Chrismukkah ornament that was much appreciated.
One new tradition we started was getting everyone matching footie hoodie pajamas to wear all weekend. The adults too! But somehow, I only got a picture of the kids.
Grammy, Sammy and Grandma Toby (also all Jewish) came over for Christmas Eve dinner.
Grammy brought a turkey and together with the husbands (Mike and Mikey) cooked a massive feast. It was way tastier than it looks in this picture.
After dinner, Harlow drew a picture for Santa and Mazzy put out the milk, carrots and cookies.
That day at the grocery store, I had picked up a copy of “The Night Before Christmas” on a whim. Grammy read it to the kids before bed, who had all never heard it before. Mazzy actually said, “I thought it was called ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas” and then I had to explain that the movie was a play on words of the book.
Then Harlow read again from memory because that’s what she does with EVERY book.
Everyone went to sleep pretty quickly except Mazzy. She was determined to wait up for Santa. She kept wanting to check the Google tracker and I had to tell her that if she was still up when he came to our neighborhood, he would have no choice but to skip our house. Which is pretty much true.
Christmas morning was a big success. Mazzy was up at 5am and we had to convince her to come into our bed instead of wake the whole house. We finally let her to go downstairs and wake everyone at 7am.
First thing Mazzy noticed was that Santa knew everyone’s name because they were written on the presents. It’s funny to see an 8yo fully processing this stuff.
Mazzy got the virtual reality glasses she asked for and became convinced that Santa knows her favorite color because the glasses are purple.
Harlow got her apartment-appropriate Barbie house (the one she showed Santa on my phone so he wouldn’t get anything I thought was too big for our space), which turned out to be way bigger than she expected.
Then at 10am, we packed up and took advantage of empty airports on Christmas Day. Just like a good Jew would.
I’ll write about our trip to LA in a future blog post, but the important thing to know is that we made sure to be home for New Year’s Eve, to continue our tradition of spending it with my friend Emily.
Emily and Matt almost always hosted a New Year’s Eve party in previous years. On the two years they did not, we had them out to our house to bring in the New Year. We even had them over our place the year that Mazzy and Charlie were newborns. We just sat on the couch and nursed our babies the whole time, who just happened to be wearing New Year’s hats. As you may remember, Matt passed away over the summer. Initially, Emily was not going to throw her annual New Year’s Eve party, but all the guests who have made it their tradition to be there, convinced her to do it. In fact, even more friends than normal showed up this year.
The games might not have been as organized (that was always Matt’s speciality) but fun was had by all. The kids arrived in pajamas, the adults ate and drank and we all watched the ball drop together, just like always.
It was a very Happy New Year.