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Holidays & Your One-Year-Old

Girl pouting

Be grateful that your child doesn't yet have any preconceived notions about the proper way to celebrate the holidays. She doesn't have any great expectations yet, but you will be setting precedents this year and in years to come. Even toddlers love ritual and tradition. If you sit at the dining room table to light the Hanukkah menorah, or if you have roast beef for Christmas dinner, you are starting traditions that your child will love and look forward to.

As for gift giving, take advantage of the fact that your child doesn't expect anything for Christmas or Hanukkah, and don't go overboard with presents. It is undeniably fun to select toys for your child at this age, but think carefully about what will really be loved and used. This is a good year for practical gifts-before she's old enough to be bored with them. Decide what she needs, such as a snowsuit or contributions to her college fund. Ask relatives to go easy on the giving, too.

You may be saving a spot on the mantel for a new photo of your child with Santa, but be flexible about filling it. While your little one may have happily snoozed on Santa's lap as an infant, or examined him with mild interest, your 1-year-old may well display some Claus-trophobia. She is too young at this stage to understand what Santa Claus represents or to be excited about seeing him. (Imagine how you might feel upon being urged to extend affection to an unfamiliar, boisterous, ho-ho-ho-ing figure 10 times your own size!) Play it by ear. A lot depends on your child's natural inclinations-and the person playing Santa. If you really want that picture, try having your child sit on Santa's knee facing you, while you stand beside or behind the photographer. If your child begins to cry, give it up -- there's always next year.