We normally spend the majority of it making cookies for Santa and wrapping gifts for all the cousins. But this time around, it was really important to me that the kids put some kind of legitimate effort into the gifts we gave as a family. So this year, we made jarred gingerbread ingredients as a gift. Mary cut and pasted the baking directions into little gift tags and signed everyone’s names. She also bagged up red and green candies to go inside the gift bags for the gingerbread men, and she helped measure out some of the ingredients. Matthew helped to pour the ingredients into the jars and to pack them down as tightly as they could go. He also helped to scoop some of the candy into goodie bags, to cut ribbon, and to bag the jars up with the accessories we got to go with them (cookie cutters, candy, and a special gingerbread/Christmas tree shaped spatula -- all of which were 70% off at the craft store because I bought them Christmas week!).
It was a lot work, but it drove the point home. Especially for Mary, who a number of times got so frustrated with all the effort that went into making these jars that she walked away calling the whole thing stupid, and refusing to lift another finger. It was the perfect opportunity for me to remind her of all the hard work everyone else puts into earning enough money to buy her all the expensive gifts she’s always filling her list with, year after year. You know, LIKE UGG BOOTS. After that, she didn’t have much to say, and she continued to help a little less begrudgingly. Matthew added a Christmas craft to each of his grandparents’ bags and an ornament we’d made with Scarlett’s handprint and a wallet-sized picture of her from her birthday portraits.
In the end, they turned out so freaking cute I kind of wished I’d made a few more to give to out to the neighbors. Since we put so much time and effort into the jars, we didn’t have time (or eggs) to bake cookies for the Big Guy, so instead, we used some of the leftover materials to make a cute little jar of holiday M&M’s for Santa (which made for a nice decoration to boot!) and laid out a carrot stick for each reindeer. SO much easier, and just as cute as the cookie thing we’ve always done before.
The kids opened their new Christmas Eve pajamas, each wrote a note to Santa before bed, and dad and I went to work.
Christmas morning at our house starts, like a year before dawn.
This year, in a sleepless daze from getting everything together the night before, Spencer and I came up for coffee at around 5:30 a.m., and it actually took us starting the Christmas music and jingling some bells outside of the kids’ doors to wake them. Matthew was so tired he wanted Mary to carry him out, and even though I assumed the baby would be left to sleep through it all, we heard her singing to us from her crib, excited to see what all the fuss was about.
Scarlett roamed the living room, pretending to talk on Spencer’s cell phone like it was any other day while the other two unwrapped gifts. Mary blew through hers like a hurricane, immediately put on all of her new clothes, and found the perfect places in her room for all her new stuff. Matthew had a hard time prying himself away from each gift he opened long enough to make it to the next. Every gift to him was like hitting the lottery, which is awesome because each one is like a goldmine to me of educational experience. He’d have been totally psyched with like, four gifts, which will make scaling down for him even more next year that much easier. Scarlett actually only had about four gifts, and one of them filled her stocking so she didn’t have to open it. We slowly unwrapped the others for her over the course of the following few days. If this kid could talk, I think she’d tell you that Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, the oversized board book version, changed her life. She pretty-much goes bat-shit crazy over every turning page. Best. Gift. Ever.
My mom is an extravagant gifter. Always has been, and I imagine at this point, always will be. So the kids, of course, were excited for mom-mom and pop-pop C. to be their first stop this year. Matt’s big gift was a Lightning McQueen bike, which was the first thing you could see from the front door sitting out in front of the Christmas tree. Scarlett had some help opening her gifts on the best seat in the house -- pop-pop’s lap. All of her cousins chipped in the effort - and somewhat surprisingly, she totally got into it. Her reactions to all of them were picture perfect. Before the wrapping paper was even entirely off, she was oohing and aahing and pressing all kinds of light up, noise-making buttons. (One of them even has a Spanish option, which I thought was totally neat!) Mary’s was a gift-card to American Eagle and Aeropostal - which basically made her gift list (short of a pair of Ugg boots) about as perfect as it could possibly get. It’s hilarious to me that these two women in my life - my mom and my daughter - are not actually blood related because they have so much in common it scares me a little bit. (In fact, my mom already owns a pair of Uggs…) So she always seems to know instinctively just what to get Mary for any occasion.
The Stucky’s won me over when they had banana cream pie with breakfast. BANANA CREAM PIE. WITH BREASFAST. Delicious! The kids got more cool stuff. I got to take awesome pictures. Oh, and Mary’s head exploded because under the tree, next to a few other gifts she’d been looking forward to, were a pair of Uggs she had no idea she was getting. Scarlett didn’t open many of her gifts, but was a total anomaly when it came to the standard of being over stimulated as a baby on Christmas. She only took one small nap before heading out to my parents, and was still just a joy all day long. She showered everyone with big, smiley kisses, and fell in love with her very first baby-doll! Just like her birthday, I don’t think the child stopped smiling once amidst all the commotion. Seriously, the kid is like a dream to take anywhere. (I wish I could say the same for the other two!)
We made another stop to my parents to have dinner with my aunt who made it there around one, and we all drove home pleasantly exhausted.