I can't believe this was Eleanor on Santa's lap last year. She looks so tiny!
We are going to visit with Santa again this weekend. I hope that she enjoys it. We've been reading "The Night Before Christmas" and she recognizes Santa now. She even chants (an Eleanor version) of "Ho, ho, ho!" when asked what Santa says. Which means it sounds more like "Ooo, ohoooo, oooo," and she repeats it about eight times, instead of three.
She is much more involved in everything Christmas this year. We have three old Advent calendars that we display on the dining room windowsill. One is a "repurposed" calendar of Santa in nature—a snowy woods scene, where he is followed by a moose, squirrel, wolf, and other animals of the forest. When you open the doors, however, my Mom has replaced the original pictures with pictures from throughout my childhood, and made up her own rhymes about the family (the cats play a particularly prominent role). She gave these calendars to me and my sisters one year, and I always enjoy looking at it.
The other two aren't as personal, but still memorable. One is a very modern style calendar, featuring Santa and the elves at a Christmas feast, that Keith and I bought the last time we were in England. The other is a glittery, snowy scene of old half-timbered buildings that my parents brought back from their trip to Germany.
Anyway, point being: every morning for breakfast, Eleanor looks at all three of the Advent calendars and enjoys opening all of the doors. It's amazing how much she has changed since last year. She has adopted a stuffed snowman; she carries him around, puts him on a chair at the table, covers him with a blanket to go to sleep, and hugs him profusely. I wish I got half as many hugs and kisses as the snowman!
It is so much fun to have a child at Christmastime. It makes me feel like a kid again. The season is so much more magical.... But. We met Erin and Gavin at the mall today. Most of the time, Eleanor was excited to look at the people and the stores and the decorations. After getting pretzels at "an autonomous unit for mid-mall snacking," we stopped at a playground. Gavin immediately loved it, and started playing. But Eleanor was a lot more fearful of the unknown equipment and the oversized turtle. She needed Mama to play with her on everything once before she was okay, and even then she still had moments of panic where she looked for me or Erin.
And it made me wonder about how her visit with Santa will go this year. She is very friendly and outgoing, but in large groups it can take a long time for her to warm up. I'm actually guessing that it's not going to go well. I don't think we'll have another picture like the one above. If she stays on his lap long enough to get a picture at all, I think it will be one of a toddler in abject misery.
Maybe she'll prove me wrong. And I know that, by next year, she will probably be throwing herself at Santa, reciting her Christmas wishlist before she is even on his lap. We'll see what happens this year, though. The fact that she is so much more aware and involved, but not yet talking or understanding everything we say can be a mixed bag.