Why The Year Your Kid Finally Understands Christmas Is So Brilliant

Forget baby's first Christmas, this is the year to look forward to 👌

A baby’s first Christmas isn’t really about them. It might be a lovely day – bright lights and cuddles – but they have absolutely no idea what’s going on. Even the second Christmas is still about the grown-ups, with Santa and that wonderful tree meaning little to someone who is figuring out how to walk.

But the third one, a two-year-old’s Christmas? Now we’re talking. While they’re not going to turn around and deliver a pitch-perfect lecture on the festive season’s origins, they can totally wrap their heads around the idea of an exciting special day coming, giving people things to make them happy, and the magic of Santa. Plus, it’s particularly lovely for cynical adults, re-injecting the season with actual warmth and, like, joy. Weird.

Here are five reasons why that first year – the year they finally begin to understand what Christmas is all about – is so brilliant.

1. Traditions are created

You get to shape what the “Christmas rules” are for your child. Will they be the excellent ones you grew up with, or the ridiculous ones suggested by your partner, whose family clearly never did Christmas correctly?

Are stockings hung by the bed, the tree, the fireplace? Do you open presents before or after breakfast? Do you do them all at once, or separate family ones and Santa ones? It’s fun creating new traditions, combining elements of two families (even if one of them is entirely wrong) – as well as adding new ones (“It’s noon, time for a traditional Yuletide Kronenbourg!”) – to create your own unique model of Christmas.

2. You see things through little eyes

Christmas cards are pretty bland to grown-ups – but to a child, whoa, this one’s got a robin on it! This one has a sparkly Christmas pudding! Wrapping paper, also a bore for adults, is a source of great entertainment for little ones. And gift-giving in general feels a lot more joyous when it leads to the unbridled delight of a child unwrapping a dinosaur and going completely nuts.

Even a few fairy lights somewhere rubbish can draw gasps and cries of, “Look, look at the stars!” that can’t help but bring a bit of magic to your day. And as for Santa… we know, while standing in a queue at a shopping centre, that it’s just some bloke who successfully monetised his beard. But for a toddler, that’s Santa. Santa is like children’s Beyoncé times a million. Beyoncé times Sir David Attenborough plus magic and the ability to fly – and he’s in the local shopping centre, and you get to meet him? Amazing.

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3. You get some thanks for a change

Children don’t earn any money – it’s one of the most annoying parts of being a parent. All year long you’ve been shelling out for everything – buying clothes they outgrow in a fortnight, keeping a roof over their heads, paying the bills – and then at Christmas, for one day at least, slapping a bit of wrapping paper on a small toy means you get a bit of thanks.

You might never get a cuddle for paying the rent, but you’ll get one for the plastic pig, and that’s something.

4. It gives winter a new meaning

There’s a reason many cultures have some sort of big feast and celebration in winter. Winter sucks. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s depressing. Everyone’s immune system packs up and leaves until spring. Every venture outside the house involves endless layering followed by the realisation your keys are two jackets down.

But having this big, exciting thing to look forward to with your children in the long build-up to Christmas is just, well, really nice. Little things – opening an advent calendar every day, hiding a stupid elf, singing a carol or two while trying not to skid the buggy off the frosty pavement and into traffic – make it all that bit less grotty.

5. You can embrace silliness

Some of us have a weird relationship with sincerity, where everything we do and say is filtered through layers of irony, cynicism and self-awareness. This really comes out at Christmas, with self-consciously wacky jumpers, jokey presents and endless eye-rolling. But with a kid involved, it’s more than okay to try and have the happiest day you can, without worrying about being lame. Unironically singing and dancing in front of people, without the feeling of air-quotes around everything, or the need to apologise for not doing a great job? It’s a Christmas miracle!