People say there’s nothing like witnessing the Christmas magic through the eyes of a child.  Yeah sure, I always assumed that to be true, but I don’t think I fully understood what people meant until this year, when I was able to witness the Christmas magic through the eyes of my child.  Through the eyes of Lexington Sapphire Shores.  Each time that I became winded from hanging a strand of multi-colored lights in the apartment, or tired from waiting with the other parents in the line to see Santa, or was on the verge of passing out from inhaling Sharpie fumes addressing holiday cards, I would look at Lexie’s big brown brown eyes sparkling with wonder.  This was her first year to celebrate Christmas, and it was obvious that the holiday meant a great deal to her.  It was obvious that she was appreciating my efforts to make it special.

Christmastime had been stressful enough for me in years past when I had to shop for gifts to give friends and family and pack my things for the yearly jaunt that I take to Massachusetts.  (I know you’re probably wondering how I managed it all, and the truth is, I don’t know).  But this year, I had a child to think about on top of all that.  Christmas was no longer just about me.  I didn’t just have to pack things for me or pick out a Christmas Eve outfit only for me or decide what the Christmas card photo would be of me.  This year, I had to do all of these things for Lexie and me. This year, I had to arrange everything for us.

You’re probably assuming that I was overwhelmed and on some level I believe I was, but luckily, the parental adrenaline surged through me, and I kept my composure to get everything done in time for Christmas.  First and foremost was getting the picture for our holiday card taken and out of the way.  I felt that once this task had been accomplished, everything else would start falling into place.  Lexington didn’t have her Christmas dress in time for the card, so formal wear was out of the question, but soon after she was adopted, I had purchased a Snuggie for her.  And it just so happened that I had a matching Snuggie for myself. Case closed.

With the outfits chosen, I arranged for picture day in early November.  Coaxing a kid into cooperating during a photo shoot isn’t for the faint of heart, but I’m pleased to report that Lexie made it through the process with flying colors.  Sure, the ordeal of brushing her hair and making sure her bow was perfectly in place proved to be as easy as it is with any pre-schooler, but she worked through the pain of beauty and ultimately shined.  In fact, as a previous baby model myself (please, no applause necessary) I know firsthand how strenuous a photo shoot can be, but between Lexie and I, only one of us has ever peed on the floor of a photographer’s studio.  And it wasn’t Lexie.  So I suppose I’m doing my part in helping to make the future generation better than the one that came before.  In any case, Lexie cooperated wonderfully, and we had the perfect picture to send out to friends and family.

Next was selecting her Christmas dress.  You’re right.  This should have been easy, but I was working within very tight parameters this year.  As previously mentioned, Lexington has a baby cousin, Cupcake Sweetie-Pie Kremer, and both of the girls insisted on wearing matching dresses for the big Christmas Eve party.  It was a demand that became hard to refuse since this was each of their first Christmases with the Sinkel family, and they were so excited.  Equally as excited were Cupcake’s older sisters, Louisa and Emma, both of the human variety.  Now you might be thinking, big deal – just pick out a dress and order two, but to that I say, “not so fast.”  Not only did Lexie and Cupcake have to match, but their dresses had to correspond with Louisa and Emma’s navy dresses that had already been purchased.  Yes, it was a tall order, but naturally as “super parents,” my sister and I got it done.

With the Christmas dress situation squared away, I was in charge of ordering hair bows for Cupcake and Lexie.  Like a chump, I made the mistake of investigating “dog bows.”  Since Lexie has no idea that the outside world refers to her as a “dog,” I probably should have known better before embarking (em”bark”ing, get it? That one’s for you, dad) on such a search.  “Dog” bows retail at about $20 a piece whereas “baby” bows go for a cool $2.50.  America, I have some concerns about your status quo…

After ordering the bows (and pink parka and taking Lexie to PetsMart to try on and purchase snow boots), I was ready to pack her suitcase.  I think my niece, Louisa, said it best as soon as the monogrammed (via puff paint) suitcase rolled into my sister’s living room.  “I was expecting it to be smaller.”  Yeah, well so did Yasgur when he told Mike Lang he could borrow his farm.  It’s hard to prepare yourself for everything in life.

Packing the car in general turned out to be much more difficult than expected for me.  Lexie had no interest in allowing me to do this.  Each time that I left the apartment to put something into the car, she barked at an ear-piercing decibel and manically ran around the apartment as to inform anyone within earshot that something very bad was going down.  In a way, I suppose she was right because we had an 18-hour drive with my father ahead of us.  When he landed at the Nashville airport, I literally had to tell him that we didn’t have room in the car for his computer.  After he packed his oranges in the glove-compartment, we found the space.

For the most part, the drive went smoothly.  Naturally, I was worried about my baby in the backseat and woke her up several times to ensure that she was still breathing.  I’m guessing though that this happens to most parents.  Lexington wouldn’t eat or drink throughout our ride, but eventually we were nearing my parents’ house, and I realized the end of the trip was within sight.  She could have a nice bowl of water as soon as we got there.  It was when we were within forty-five minutes of our destination that my father informed me that his car was parked at Logan airport, and we needed to pick it up before going home.  This excursion added two hours onto our driving time…after eighteen hours already spent in the car.  Yeah, I don’t plan on letting that one go anytime soon.

Finally, we arrived at the house and Lexie went onto meet and instantly fall in love with all of her cousins, even Calvin, who she was told is a “cat,” and Jade, another “cat,” who she didn’t get to meet.  Cupcake and Lexie wore matching bows several times over the course of the trip, and she seemed to form an especially tight bond with my niece, Emma, who happily looked me in the eye and informed me with a smile that “Lexie is the special one now.  It’s not you anymore.”  Such is the way of the world once you have a child I suppose.

Santa arrived for all the kids, and Lexie got the Sock Monkey stuffed animal that she’d been hoping for.  She also got to go on a nature hike, watch all four hours of Gone With the Wind, and spend New Years Eve with her grandparents.  What more could any kid ask for?  (Side note: judging by the party favor she left in my dad’s theater while being babysat for the night, Lexie is not a fan of Auntie Mame).

Sadly though, our time with our family came to an end and we had to load the Civic back up again for the long road home.  This time my mother accompanied us, and like on the way to Massachusetts, everything was going smoothly.  And then we hit an ice storm in Virginia, and then we were trapped on I-81 for two hours on sheets of snow and ice, and then we witnessed two accidents, and then Lexie got smuggled in for her first hotel stay at a Holiday Inn.  The bright side is that I missed a day of work, and Lexie got to sleep in a king-sized bed.  Not bad for a ten pound child.  The dark side is that we bought a Mega Millions lottery ticket and didn’t win.  I can’t tell you how shocked I was.

Overall, we had a great holiday, and we hope you all did too.  We’re already looking forward to our next trek to Massachusetts.  I’m not sure when this will be, but whenever it happens, it will certainly be with the motto that I’m now living by.  “Not without my daughter.”  Happy 2012!