Christmas is over! I, for one, am relieved.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas. I’m not The Grinch, by any means. I’ve been whistling Jingle Bells for weeks, and had fun decorating the tree and wrapping presents. There were parts of celebrating the holiday with young children that were pure magic.
But I also find the whole thing completely overwhelming, and am excited for the return to normality.
I’ve never pushed Santa on the kids. I’ve always told him that he is just a story, but that it’s a fun one that lots of people like to tell. They know he’s not *REALLY* real, but they like to believe in him anyway.
So on Christmas Eve, before we tucked the kids in bed, they laid out homemade cookies and a beer (I find milk super gross so we convinced the kids that Santa is lactose intolerant) along with a carrot for Rudolph.
Then we read bedtime stories and closed our eyes to wait for Santa to arrive.
Daddy went outside on the pretense of checking on the chickens, and a few minutes later, we heard REINDEER BELLS JINGLING OUTSIDE THE WINDOW (*GASP*) and BOOTS CLOMPING ON THE ROOFTOP (*OMG!*).
The kids were ecstatic. Even I, knowing that their dad was outside making all the racket, got caught up in the excitement.
They were so overjoyed about hearing Santa and the reindeer that we could barely get them to close their eyes. It was beyond adorable and I will hold that memory in my heart – of snuggling under the covers together, speaking in hushed whispers about what Santa might put in our stockings – for a long, long time to come.
At the crack of dawn (which is when my kids normally get up anyway – they’re crazy like that) we grownups started mainlining coffee (no, really – if Coffee Drip IV was a thing, I’d totally have one) and the kids started opening gifts.
After last year, I learned a few lessons about the whole opening-gifts-at-Christmas-with-children thing. With little kids, what inevitably happens (due to their short attention spans and their inability to delay gratification), is that all the presents get opened with the speed and force of a hurricane, with gifts and wrapping flying everywhere, and barely any attention paid to the actual contents, until we are surrounded on all sides by the detritus of dozens of carefully wrapped and thoughtfully purchased or made gifts.
It makes me crazy. I’m a “clean as I go” kind of person. I like to tidy messes before they become unmanageable, so I was getting a nervous tick just anticipating opening presents with the kids. So much wrapping, so much trash, so many new toys that I now need to organize and find homes for.
This year, I bought my kids one thing: games. Just loads and loads of games. Living way out in the country where we are surrounded by several feet of snow for what seems like the better part of the year, and frequently lose power for hours – or days – at a time, we know a little about passing time during the long, cold days of winter. We play outside in the snow as much as possible, but some days it’s just too cold, wet, or icy to spend much time outside, so games are essential.
A few months ago I stumbled across this post: Forget Candyland! This Is the Best List of Board Games for All Ages and basically put every game on the list in my Amazon shopping cart. I ended up purchasing most of them for Christmas, with a two-fold intent: stocking up on our preschooler-friendly games to help keep us entertained during the winter, and giving gifts that be enjoyed while we are all hanging out together on Christmas.
So, this Christmas, I let each kid open one gift at a time, and then we’d all play the new game together as a family. It was hard work keeping them focused, but it really help prevent the chaos of opening everything all at once (*twitch, twitch*).
We used teamwork to build towers of blocks before the Stack Smasher could get them:
We looked for clues in Richard Scarry’s Busy World and rode a ferry to Picnic Island:
We had tea parties:
We made masks:
We learned strategy:
And we took breaks to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. We sledded and built snowmen and got rosy cheeks and built up our appetites for cookies and hot cocoa with marshmallows.
I, for one, had a fantastic holiday. I managed to find a way to deal with the consumerism and commercialism of the holiday which typically drives me nuts, and we were able to focus on spending time together as a family – which, for me, is what the holidays are all about. That, and wine. The kids, of course, had a blast. (That’s basically their sole job in life right now, is to have a blast, 24/7. They’re expert-level blast-havers.)
And I accomplished my mission of having loads of kid games on hand:
I hope all of you enjoyed a happy, healthy, and heart-filled holiday. There is much to be appreciative of, and it’s always nice to have a moment to stop and soak in the gratitude.
Happy Holidays from Moose Poop Acres to all of you. ~