I'm alllll about Christmas. I start playing Christmas music as soon as it hits midnight on Halloween (ok, maybe sometimes in the summer too). I dream about what decorations I'll put up when the time comes, what stocking stuffers I'll find and what activities and crafts we'll make during the holidays. It's not about the presents. For us, it's about the memories. Growing up, I never had a Christmas where I didn't get every single thing I wanted. But the things I remember most about the holidays as a child aren't the gifts (except the year of the Cabbage Patch...I think I got 6 or 7 of those little munchkins..what a great year!). Anyway, I remember making sugar cookie cutouts with my Mom, decorating the tree as a family, driving around looking at the Christmas lights, cutting down the tree at a farm. I remember the Berwick Boulevard light display, the hot cocoa after playing outside in the snow, and the general togetherness we had as a family.
After I had Punky, I started Christmas traditions (cookie baking, Gingerbread houses, driving around looking at the lights) but I also went overboard with the gift buying. I kid you not, there was not one single inch of open space in our living room Christmas morning. For years. It was ridiculous. He was happy, I was happy. But a few weeks later, only a few of the toys were beloved..others just thrown into the toy box waiting for next year's yard sale. Not all kids are like that, I realize this. But my kid was overwhelmed with all the toys. It took him HOURS to open his gifts and by the end, we were all exhausted.
So I got wiser after a few years and bought a little less. Still, it was all smiles and happiness Christmas morning. Punky never even questioned why he received less gifts. He was just so thrilled with what he did receive, he didn't care that there was less. It didn't even occur to him. And those toys (for the most part) were played with all year.
This year, we have another child, Monkey. And this year, we decided to REALLY focus on what matters most: the memories. Sure, each child is going to get gifts...around 5 or 6 plus a stocking. But those gifts, I just know, will be cherished.
As for the memories...well, if we could create one fantastic memory for our children this year, I'd be happy. And I think we managed to! We did so much as a family....things we've done every year and new things we have added. We've continued the traditional cooking baking, gingerbread house making, advent calendars and holiday crafts. We've also continued the 24 days of holiday books as well. Each night, Punky unwraps a holiday book, chosen from a basket, for us to read. Most are about Christmas (The Polar Express, Here Comes Santa Claus, Holly Hill Road Treasury) but some are about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, etc. It's something we all look forward to...ending our night under the covers, reading a holiday book. On the 24th, we unwrap Twas The Night Before Christmas!
A few new traditions (hopefully we'll continue with) this year were added as well. Our family favorite has been the addition of Jingles the Elf. Jingles, a stuffed 12 inch elf, was dropped off by Santa the night after Thanksgiving. Santa left a note stating why Jingles was there (to observe whether or not the boys were naughty or nice and then report back to Santa on the 24th), that Jingles could get into mischief and to please take care of him. Every night, Jingles got into some kind of mischief!!! One night he went fishing in the fish bowl, another night he played Wii all night, another he hung all Punky's underwear on the Christmas tree!!! It's been so much fun waking up to see what Jingles had done the night before. It's the first thing Punky asks about every single morning. Jingles will be greatly missed after Christmas. He'll definitely be back next year!!!!
***this post was written on Christmas Eve but posted after Christmas