It was our job to run around and give everyone their presents while the adults sat around watching and laughing. Being the oldest of the cousins, I was the leader. Thus, the santa hat was mine. All mine. I also had to read the tags the fastest because I was the best reader. I didn’t understand why the adults didn’t care about getting their presents. And then when they got one, they set it down. Unopened. And continued watching. It was strange.
My goal was to find all my presents and open them as fast as possible. I had been waiting all year for this! So when I saw a big, strangely wrapped present I knew it was mine. I tore it open but instead of screaming my usual round of thank you’s, I was quiet. See, I was too old for dolls. And this doll was rather large. I put on a smile and looked around to thank my grandma. I felt bad that she got me something I wouldn’t enjoy. That’s when my grandma saw what I had opened.
“Jessica! That present is for Sarah!”
My face turned beet red. Remember how I didn’t bother to read the tag? It had my cousin’s name on it. And she was about three years old at the time. This gift was perfect for her. And now the entire family knew what I had done. I tried to put the ripped paper back over the doll as I gave it to my cousin who was absolutely thrilled by the gift.
Needless to say, I didn’t feel like I was the wisest cousin after all. I wasn’t the best or the smartest. I took off the santa hat and watched the rest of the cousins hand out and open presents.
The Sexy Family celebrated Christmas two weeks early this year. Long story short, we wouldn’t see Michael during his winter break. Celebrating our Christmas after the new year did not sound fun at all. However celebrating ahead of time felt like a fun challenge.
This year was our best Christmas ever.
When it came to last minute shopping, the stores were just beginning to get busy. When we forgot an item on (our) Christmas Day, going to the store was no problem. Everything was open with normal hours. Usually surrounding Christmas is running around to make sure we spend time with all the family. This year, during (our) Christmas, we had nowhere to be except at home with each other.
One thing I quickly realized during (our) Christmas was that the rest of the world was not celebrating. The world didn’t stop just because the Sexy Family said so. Once I accepted that along with a few obligations we had, it wasn’t so bad. We managed to hole up for a day and half and that was perfect. Actually, this was the most time we had spent together as a family without anyone else around for a long time. It went surprisingly well.
We tried a few new traditions:
Recreating the Christmas Story: Originally I wanted to do this on (our) Christmas Eve but it just got too late so we did it Christmas morning. We read a book about Jesus’ life while the kids ate donuts. Then we picked a part to recreate. Marie was Mary, Michael was Joseph and Mr. Sexy, Denai and I were the wise men. And the shepherds. And I was the narrator. Michael thought it was all dumb but once we actually got into it he was having fun – not that he wanted us to know it.
Giving to each other: In order to get away from the frenzy and “me-me-me” mentality, Michael and Marie found presents for each other and for Denai. Nobody opened one until everyone had a present. This way the kids were able to practice giving to each other and experience the joy from seeing each other open gifts. Towards the end, however, there is always somebody with more or less presents. At least, that’s how it works at our house. So we did allow the frenzy during that part. Don’t worry, no one felt left out.
Scavenger Hunt: Both kids found a scroll in their stocking that they weren’t allowed to open until all the presents under the tree were unwrapped. Each scroll led to two different gifts. This, my friends, was a major hit. Mr. Sexy and I have so many ideas to change things up with this idea in the years to come. And when they can drive we can send them all over town looking for a present! For us, spending that time together looking for a present is just as great as finding it. At least, that’s the concept we are trying to teach. And trying to learn ourselves.
Those are the main new traditions we tried out. Each one was a hit for us. Our Christmas was memorable and special and all about being together.
As December 25 approached I found myself at home. Relaxing. No need for me to be out in the frenzy. On Christmas Eve we sent the girls to bed early and had a movie night. Christmas day was spent with my family and the rest of the weekend we spent at home pretending we were hermits. My house wasn’t overflowing with new toys and garbage bags full of wrapping paper. We ate like fat kids and watched way too much TV. It was pretty awesome.
Not everyone gets to be with their family on Christmas. It’s hard when that happens. This year was very different for our family. What we learned is that any day can be made to be special. We just had to decide and then do it.