Oh look! Thanks to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and Mr. Fantastic's continuing recovery (He's already in bed!), it looks like I might actually get this post up tonight after all. Whew! SOOOOO. Here's the story:
YAY!!!! It's time for Christmas! I love Christmas and everything about it. I love teaching my kids about Christ's birth and what a beautiful and amazing gift He is to all of us. I love singing Christmas carols with them. I love nativities and advent and the manger and the star and the perfect simplicity of the whole thing.
And I also love decorating, baking, Santa, shopping, wrapping, you name it. I love it.
But today we're here to talk about presents!!!! I love buying presents for people. Am I being a little over-the-top gushy on this post? Well, you know what? That's just tough—you're gonna have to deal with it. Anyway, for me, getting presents is fun and all, but there's not really anything I need anymore. I do enjoy opening a nice, thoughtful gift, but some of the most thoughtful gifts I've found are donations to a cause that I care about, or a gift through an organization like our church or Compassion International or something like that.
Buying for other people, though, is one of the great joys in my life. For our extended family… well, I have to be a little bit careful here because some of them are reading right now (Hello!), but I can spill on a few things that aren't exactly secret anymore. Mr. Fantastic and I like to do some photo gifts, and for the past few years have made photo calendars and ornaments for the grandparents, a tradition I am certain we will continue this year… although I haven't actually started on anything like that… But those are really neat gifts, especially the calendars, which I have tons of fun putting together. (They're a bit time-consuming because I don't just make one and then order a bunch… I "custom-make" them depending on who is getting them, putting in different pictures, birthdays, etc.)
We don't exchange presents with my siblings anymore, which I miss, but financially it is probably better this way. We do, however, buy for the kids in the family. That is fun, but a challenge. I have 5 nephews and 1 niece, ranging in age from almost 7 to almost 12. Four of them are getting a Scholastic gift certificate from us (the other 2 are homeschooled, so I wasn't sure if that would work for them), but that's just a small thing I was going to give them along with their bigger gift. I think 2 of the boys are going to get DS games from us, something I just determined about 15 minutes ago, but I am clueless on the rest of them.
So what am I buying the people in my house for Christmas this year?, you ask. Well, in our house, we have a 3 gift rule. It started when Mr. Fantastic and I were engaged. I'd like to say that it is significant because of the three gifts Jesus received from the Magi, because that sounds really good and deep and spiritual. Actually, that first Christmas, Mr. Fantastic was adamant that he wanted us to just buy each other one gift—not just that year, but every year. To be fair, his intentions were good—he was trying to fight the consumerism-side of Christmas that tries to convince us that we must show our love for each other by buying lots of gifts, no matter how meaningless. He wanted us to focus on being thoughtful, not on buying stuff. But I, being the quiet and complacent type that I am, refused to go along with that. (I've learned a thing or two about submission in the past 10 years…) So we finally compromised and agreed on one gift per Christmas celebration. That particular year, we had one celebration with my parents, one with his mom, and one with his dad. Three Christmases. Three gifts. And even though we were married by the following year and only gave each other gifts at our own home, that number stuck—and we've given each other 3 gifts ever since. We hold the same rule with our kids, and we hold Santa to the 3-gift rule as well. (More on that in a minute.)
The 3 gift thing does tend to get stretched—and not just by me! For instance, someone might buy a shirt, a pair of pants, a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a purse for the other person (NOT saying this actually happened… like, say, LAST YEAR or anything…), wrap them all individually, but then tape the packages together and tie one big bow around them and present them as ONE of the three gifts. It's been known to happen. Oh, and all bets are off when it comes to stocking stuffers. Last year I crammed those babies full to overflowing, and Mr. Fantastic gave me a look that I'm pretty sure was intended to say that I may have pushed that just a little too far. But I pretended not to notice.
As for Santa, we are very blessed in that my parents provide the Santa gifts for our children. This really frees up our gift budget, which has been a huge help. For reasons that are too complicated to explain here, my parents also send the majority of their gifts to the kids here to our house to be opened on Christmas morning, so we just randomly pick 3 of them (per child) to be from Santa, and the rest are from Nana and Papa. Santa is, as I said before, limited to 3 gifts per child, because we decided we didn't want him to be cooler than Mommy & Daddy. Nana & Papa (and the other grandparents), on the other hand, have no such restriction. Everybody already knows that grandparents are way "funner" (to quote my dear Lamb) than parents anyway, so why fight it?
So back to this particular Christmas. This year there was one special thing Mr. Fantastic and I decided to do for the kids for Christmas—we're going to redo their bedrooms. Currently, Lamb and Monkey have bunkbeds in the room that was originally Lamb's alone. We knew that the room arrangements were temporary, so we didn't do any decorating, we just threw Monkey and a few of his toys into the otherwise very girly room. But now we're going to move Roo into that room with Monkey (because it's the bigger of the two kid bedrooms), and move Lamb into what is currently the nursery (a smaller room, but with a gigundo closet). So we're going to re-carpet, paint, decorate, the whole she-bang. Now… what that looks like in terms of presents to be opened on Christmas morning… I don't really know. We already have beds/bedding for them, and even several of the decorations. I'm thinking about maybe just giving them each a can of paint to open—just the base, without a particular color mixed in—and explaining to them what we're going to do. I will probably be in charge of the paint colors and decorations in the boys' room, but I really want Lamb to have lots of input on how she wants her room, so I don't want to move too far forward without talking to her about it first. So that's going to be a fun gift/project.
And for the two bigger kids, I have also been determined to get them scooters for Christmas. Luckily for me, Toys R Us had the ones I wanted on sale big-time on Black Friday! So that took care of gift #2 for the big kids. (These aren't the exact scooters that I got, but they are similar.)
Now this is where it gets a little sticky. I don't know if it's a girl thing or an oldest child thing or what, but I always have an abundance of gift ideas for Lamb, and a hard time coming up with ideas for the boys. I bought her a T-shirt and sweatshirt with our school logo on it, so I am thinking that's going to be her 3rd gift. However, I really want her to have a Bible—a real Bible, not the little kids' story Bibles that she has now, but the actual real text of the Bible. Any of the grandparents would be very happy to give that to her, but I kinda want her first Bible to be from us. So maybe I'll sell the school spirit shirts to one of the grandparents instead. I don't know. And yes, that's a great thing about our parents as well. They are very willing to just let me buy stuff I want for the kids, and then just buy it off of me as part of their gift. And since I have found some particularly great deals this year that I just couldn't pass up, I have quite the stash from which they can shop…!
If I have too many ideas for Lamb, I have the exact opposite problem when it comes to the boys. Yes, Monkey loves Hotwheels and trains and sports and all those boy things, but none of those feel especially special, you know what I mean? He has been asking a lot for a remote control car, though, and I found this really cool one that I got for a steal, so that will probably be his third gift. I don't think this is the exact same one, but it's close...
Roo… well, what do you get the third child who already has all of the hand-me-downs from the other two? For some reason, the Sit to Stand Giraffe really caught my eye, so I picked that up for him. And of course, one of his gifts will have something to do with the new bedroom situation. And for the third… who knows!
And let's not forget about stocking stuffers! Every year we get the kids new toothbrushes and toothpaste. We also get them each an ornament. This year, Lamb's ornament is a beautiful one I got at the Nutcracker. It is Clara holding her nutcracker. It was too expensive for a Christmas ornament, but I couldn't resist it. J Roo's is an adorable baby's-first-year ornament that holds a photo. I want to get Monkey a Batman ornament, but the only one I've been able to find was $18 (more than I paid for the Nutcracker ornament), and I just don't find that to be reasonable! So I'm still looking. They'll probably each get a Wii game in their stocking because I got some of those for a good price too… and maybe a Leapster game, depending on what all I can cram in there…
And then there's Mr. Fantastic. What on earth am I getting my wonderful hubby for Christmas? No really, I'm asking. What will I get him????? So far I've only bought one of his three gifts (and no stocking stuffers). It is a series of photos that spell "FAMILY" in a beautiful frame. Some of the photos are pictures of a letter in a sign or something, and others are things in life/nature that just happen to be shaped like a particular letter. Does that make any sense at all? I feel like I am particularly scatterbrained tonight, so I'm not entirely certain that anything I'm writing is coherent.
He has hinted multiple times that he wants an iPod, but I am still debating about that. I know if he says he wants one, I should assume he wants one… but there's one small problem with that. A few years ago, he hinted that he wanted an iPod… so I bought him one… that then became my iPod because he never used it. Hmmmmm… Right now I'm hoping to win an iPod for him, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
So I'm still chewing on that one. I'll keep you posted. But come on, now, dish: What's on your Christmas shopping list this year? Any good ideas for husbands, nephews & nieces, grandparents? Let's hear it! Post your thoughts in the comments or blog about them and link up here in the comments! And as always, don't forget to read Zehlahlum Family to hear what Jamey is giving her kiddos for Christmas this year!