Christmas is a whole new ball game when there’s a baby in the house.
It’s as if the holiday returns from its decades of hibernation, descending upon the house like a storm and depositing remnants of childhood Christmases of yore. Christmas songs once again are sung. Lights are again hung. Grandma’s holiday decorations are strewn about the house, that weird hunchback Santa here, those cute flying snowmen there. And, of course, a festive tree barely contains the mountain of shiny wrapped packages steadily swelling beneath it.
WAIT! How many presents does one kid need? Especially one that, if given the choice, will nine times out of ten opt to play with a plastic cup or piece of string instead of those brightly colored baby toys that flash and blare and vibrate.
Imagining the Christmas glut to come, certain to befall an unsuspecting Elle on her first Christmas, weeks ago Craig and I discussed our Christmas gifting philosophy. It’s important, we said, to establish the tone of our Christmas (or rather, the Christmas we as a family imagined) as early as possible. Starting with Elle’s first Christmas, and what she would get from us.
We knew what we didn’t want her to find under the tree this holiday – a bunch of plastic toys, probably made in China, that will add to the accumulation of similarly rarely-played-with toys already growing in her toy chest. But what she would receive on Christmas this year was much more ambiguous. It would be something useful, but fun. It would be something that would last, but not last for eons in the landfill. The word “heirloom” came to mind. But what was it, exactly?
I began compiling a mental list of possibilities. I navigated oceans of natural toy websites, coming up with a few ideas. A hanging rocking horse swing from Nova Natural toys. From Djeco, the “Tap Tap Mother Hen”: Use the small wooden chick hammer to tap-tap the eggs through their holes and watch mother lay her eggs! Or, whatever happened to plain old wooden blocks?
I was thinking about Christmas while Elle and I were on our way to the grocery store last week, after one of those nice winter storms that make everything feel good and Christmas-y. I trod through the snow, thinking about how I’d better figure this out if I was hoping to have anything for my daughter for Christmas this year. She was heavy in the backpack, and I was sinking up to my ankles on the freshly groomed Mountain Village Boulevard path. It would be nice if I had a sled to pull her around in, on days like this, I thought. She would probably love it, too, just sitting there cute and curious in her snowsuit and snow boots and sunglasses…
That’s it! A sled! Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner? All mountain children need sleds – for utility (i.e. post-snowstorm grocery store trips) and fun (i.e. the obvious – sledding with mom and dad, who are darn good and daring sledders, if I do say so myself).
Later that evening, I returned to my computer armed with a narrowed-down Christmas gift search. “Baby sleds.” There were, of course, thousands of options. Plastic sleds were out. Racing sleds were quickly taken off the list, too. I could see the sled I wanted to buy her in my mind: made of wood, sturdy so we could haul her on trips around town on un-melted roads, perhaps with sides so she won’t tip out, and maybe even a comfy pad to sit on.
My second ah ha moment of the day surfaced when my mouse scrolled over a picture of a sled that matched my mind’s-eye version. Mountain Boy Sledworks, of course! This was, I decided in a split-second, the perfect gift for Elle’s first Christmas.
Mountain Boy uses only fast-growing, sustainable hardwoods like birch, willow and maple in their sled-building, and try to use every last wood scrap for things like kicksled slats or Christmas ornaments. They are built to last, and so are worth the extra bucks, I figured, since she’ll have this sled for many years. They could ship us one in 48 hours, and would even engrave her name on it! And the best part? Mountain Boy is a local Silverton company.
Craig and I have slept well since our Mountain Boy sled purchase. We accomplished our Baby’s First Christmas goal: We bought her one, very nice, heirloom-quality gift that will last a long, long time. We even managed to support our local economy in the process. Our next dilemma? Finding space for it in the garage.