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5 Ways Christmas Is Different With Tweens

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It's mid-December and all through the house, not a creature has mentioned Santa Claus, not even my youngest. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, all in full knowing that St. Nicholas was a fourth-century Greek monk.

Welcome to the Christmas with tweens! My little one is about to turn 10, and I realized this year how different the holiday season is as the kids get older. Here are some of the ways…

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1. No more Christmas pageants

I got misty-eyed every time I saw my little ones dressed up with wings and a halo. Those preschool programs used to stress me out with their elaborate costumes and last-minute meltdowns. "Yes, you have to go onstage. And yes, you have to wear the uncomfortable shoes." But seeing your toddler singing "Silent Night" makes all those sleepless nights worth it. Take lots of photos and videos while the kids are small, because trust me—they really do grow up quickly.

2. No more holiday-themed outfits

My kids rebelled, deciding that it's infinitely uncool to have a giant snowman embroidered on their bellies.

Before my boys realized they had any say in what they put on their bodies, I used to wrangle them into tartan plaid shirts and Fair Isle sweaters for our annual holiday photo shoot. Somewhere around mid-elementary school, my kids rebelled, deciding that it's infinitely uncool to have a giant snowman embroidered on their bellies. On the flip side, all the energy I used to put into decorating my children, I can now put into decking the halls. The breakable ornaments can finally come out of storage!

3. Either the wish lists get more sophisticated, or there isn't one at all.

The 9-year-old insisted on making a rough draft of his list before typing it up in Word, formatted with the appropriate number of stars for each item. He insisted that we email them to all the grandparents and print out four copies … just for backup. A friend's sons took it one step further, creating a Google Doc, complete with prices and links to Amazon. I hear this is the last stop before, "I dunno, I don't want anything. Everything is lame."

4. They get better at giving.

I know, I've made it sound like it's all downhill once the kids hit the tween years. But every once in a while, those sullen large-footed people surprise me. My boys have taken an interest in giving, as well as receiving. In years past, I've taken my sons shopping to choose presents for each other, but this year, the 12-year-old says, "We should really use our own money to buy gifts, otherwise it's kind of meaningless." The younger one decided that one of the books he got at a school fair would be better for his dad and wants to wrap it as a present.

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5. They understand the true meaning of the holidays.

Whether it's in their concern for those who are less fortunate or their genuine interest in the learning about the religious significance of Christmas, I'm so impressed with my kids' ability to see through the consumer hype and general frenetic pace of the season. I have hopes that this media-savvy generation will know that true happiness doesn't come from a new car with a red bow tied around it.

Oh gosh, I'm getting all misty-eyed again.

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