- Seeing my sister and her husband, and my brother. And meeting my brother's girlfriend for the first time!
- Not traveling over the holidays with three small kids.
- Doing just enough decorating so that it felt like Christmas, but not so much that I was exhausted by the end of it or daunted by the de-decoration task.
- Christmas cards! And exchanging them with many friends (new and old!) and family.
- Enjoying our favorite holiday traditions: the unveiling of the Nutcracker collections (each kid has one!); our very Mickey Mouse-themed Christmas tree (it's becoming more Mickey Mouse each year!); listening to the Christmas song radio station (so sad they don't go through New Year's); making holiday treats with the kids (but glad they're all gone now); and eating a yummy FEAST!
- Spending a few days just hanging out with family, playing with our presents, and taking some field trips, too.
- Finding space in the playroom for (nearly) all of the new gifts.
- Also, not traveling over the holidays with three small kids.
Some gift highlights:
- Magformers (a hit with kids and adults alike!)
- Stratego for Ryan (two sets, a classic Napoleon set, and a fantasy dragon set, and he's keeping both apparently)
- More Heroscape stuff (Ryan, of course)!
- Another ENORMOUS stuffed dog for Morgan (The Battle of the Uncles is ON! The first enormous stuffed dog came from Uncle B. on her birthday. My brother, Uncle D. just raised the bar! How will Uncle B. counter? And will there be room in my house?)
- Also, a bazillion smaller stuffed dogs for Morgan (some that move and bark, some plain old stuffed dogs)
- Some Littlest Pet Shop toys for Morgan (there's a theme here, can you tell?)
- An enormous makeup kit for M!
- Some cool Indiana Jones stuff for Ryan (including a costume!)
- Some Little People toys for Sean--we'd gotten rid of most of our other LP stuff once Ryan outgrew them and Morgan's canine-related preferences for toys became clear. But it looks like we're back on the plan, because Seanie LOVES these things!
- Sean also got a ball toy that made him giggle so hard that we had to stop Christmas and take a movie of it. :o)
- Also, tons of movies and books, and some other awesome things that I can't quite recall at the moment. It was a haul!
I think the main reason this was the most enjoyable, least stressed Christmas in a good long while is that I had my priorities straight. My rationally-self-interested-according-to-my-hierarchy-of-values priorities.
Money has been very tight, so Brendan and I opted out of all gift exchanges with our extended family, as I wrote in an earlier post. So I'm not NEARLY as worried about the post-Christmas financial situation as I've been in the past.
We kept the focus on the kids, because there's nothing more fun than a kid on Christmas! At least, a kid on Christmas who has not been harassed into opening gifts more quickly or more slowly than he'd prefer, a kid who is allowed as much time (or as little) as he wants to explore his latest gift, a kid who is in his own home with his own things with familiar surroundings and people.
As much as I like seeing our extended families over the holidays, not traveling this year was SUCH bliss. It's hard to schlep gifts back and forth over many miles, living out of suitcases and duffels, having routines and environments altered. The holidays disrupt routines by definition--and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But staying home allowed us to keep the holiday-mandated disruptions to the bare minimum: guests in the home, and different daily routines. The kids were much happier, better behaved, and more FUN over this Christmas than they've been in recent years. And I think THEY had more fun. I'm hoping not to travel over Christmas for the next few years. Everyone is welcome here, but barring some extreme unforeseen emergent reason for such travel, I'm planning for us to stay put.
Oh, and our Beatles Rock Band for the Wii didn't quite work out as I'd planned! Even though I thought I'd checked the packages carefully, all of the boxes did NOT arrive back in October as I thought they had. :( Amazon promptly refunded my money, which was nice of them, but now I'm stuck with half of a set, and it was a limited edition set so it's now hard to find. Boo.
But I was able to weather that particular disappointment (and it was bitter at first!) because I kept my focus on my values. We'll find the game eventually, and the most important things happened--lots of fun, low stress, happy kids, a joyous time spent with my brother and sister and their S.Os. I just really have a hard time staying too sad about the Beatles video game when we are all safe, happy, and healthy. Even as I vow to triple-check Amazon packages forevermore. :o)
Yes, it was just the Best Christmas in a long while, possibly ever. Looking forward to a fun New Year's Eve tomorrow! We're invited to the home of friends, and we always love to see them. But I think we might just stay in tomorrow night, and let the kids stay up and watch the Big Apple and the Big Peach (did you know we have a Big Peach in Georgia?) drop at midnight. What are you going to do?