Despite the set backs (my persistent illness+Seth getting a corneal abrasion on his second gift and spending several hours in the ER and three days following with his eyes closed) we had a really great Christmas.
Not The Mama and I are diligent about gifts for Christmas; each kid gets three gifts and Santa brings them one gift as well. It’s not a super spiritual idea or something, but came after our first Christmas with kids. We learned that between us buying and family buying, they get SO MUCH STUFF for Christmas that it just becomes ‘stuff.’ You all know what I mean? There is so many toys that no toy is special, or only one is. And you’ve opened 16 things in a flurry of paper and bows without any real meaning. Especially when they are very little and all they want is “toys” without real specifics or interests.
So after that first year we set a rule for our household- three gifts per child. It actually makes shopping for it more fun. I do much more research and put more thought into those three gifts than I do for birthday gifts (money limit, not number for birthday). I think about how long they will play with it (so, no Furbys, sorry) and how much it will mean to them and I take their requests to heart and try to work out ways to fulfill wants with long-term-this-is-one-Christmas-a-year-guys-pick-something-awesome idea. This is the first year I’ve been super-duper specific with their great-grandmother and grandparents as well, giving detailed lists with plenty to choose from but on one side, educational items to boost our homeschool and the other, Lego sets for ‘The Lego Christmas’…all of which I knew they would really like and really play with. The gifts I chose were very specific as well; a Lego set for each and some Lego men for the big boys, a lovely art kit for Adam who is a budding artist, a violin for Lily because she has been asking for lessons, a kit to make your own mummy for my Egypt-obsessed Noah, a marble maze set for Seth who is completely fascinated by such things, etc. I didn’t just buy what was on sale, I researched and worked on this list for months in order to get things they would really enjoy and really use. To me, thats more meaningful than a long list of “toys” that will be obsolete to them in a few months.
One of the things I want to share most is a gift from their Nanny. She followed my list exactly for several learning games (we can’t wait to play “Into the Forest” during Science next week) and items that will be fun but also eductional in our little home learning enviroment from Hearth Song (http://www.hearthsong.com) and Rainbow Resources (http://www.rainbowresource.com). Our favorite as a family is hands-down Kinetic Sand. If you haven’t seen this stuff, check it out.
Don’t be surprised to walk into the dining room to find me or Greg shirking responsiblity and playing with this, the “magic sand” as the kids call it.
So many of my plans for Christmas and Christmas Homeschool fell apart with my illness. We even missed Christmas at church with my potentially contagious germs keeping us home. But before things got worse and I got sort of quarantined, the kids did get to see The Nutcracker and our local Christmas parade. We made it to the Speedway for the light show and Dollywood to use our passes one last time and that place at Christmas is wonderful (we also saw A Christmas Carol there and it was great). We went to a cookie decorating party at a friends’ and had a great time, we hunted for Christmas lights in our town. We made some crafts, we sang a lot of songs and watched some Christmas videos. We learned about lights, angels, trees, St. Nick and Jesus’ birth (even though that is just a third of our planned lessons). We visited with some of our family and special friends, we laughed and ate and played games and were merry together. My husband’s boss gave us a nice huge ham for Christmas (I love this). Our elf, Peppermint had a nice, long visit (another post) and we had some truly gorgeous pictures taken by my friend Carey Pace http://www.careypace.com/2013/12/christmas-magic-and-tree-tutorial.html. I couldn’t have dreamed they’d be this pretty. What a treasure!