Christmas 2017

Another Christmas season has come and gone. The boys have another set of memories to add to their childhood experience. They are 6 now and this season has been the most, “high definition”, of them all.


Like most children, the boys love the holidays. It snows, we decorate, there’s Santa, and of course, presents. In past years the boys have helped us decorate, visited Santa, and looked for our Elf on the Shelf every morning, but this year was different. They were really into it in ways we had not expected. Every situation commanded a heightened sense of emotion and drama which made for an entertaining season.

Take our Elf on the Shelf for example. We’ve had one for years and we move it around every day, except when we forget, which can sometimes be 2 days in a row. In past years boys would look for him for a few minutes when they get up in the morning and continue on with their day if they couldn’t find him for some reason. If he happened to have “stayed asleep” and not moved to a new spot they didn’t worry. Not this year. Each morning they came running down the stairs shouting “Where’s Scuba?!” If they couldn’t find him they would talk about it all morning as if they had lost their very favorite toy. If he hadn’t moved we heard “What’s wrong with him?!” as if we needed to take him to the Magic Elf hospital down the road for a check-up.

Santa is another good example. In the past we talked about him, added things to Christmas lists, and visited him at the mall. On occasion we’d talk about how he got the presents into the house but it was only once or twice. This year it was all the time. For an entire month we had discussions about how he fits down a chimney, how he knows what you want, how the Elf can watch you when you aren’t in the room it is in, how the Elf tells Santa about your behavior, how reindeer can fly, why you don’t see or hear Santa, etc, etc. The questions were serious and required serious answers with time for follow-up.

The snow and the decorations were a hit too. The first snow fell one morning while we were getting ready for school, I had just been outside and told Adam to come out with me to see something. When he saw the snow he started screaming and running in circles around the yard. When we had our first substantial snow storm he begged to go out and play in it for hours. When we took the boys around town to see the houses decorated we varied between complete silence to gleeful screams and comparisons of lights on one side of the car or the other.

The Big Day

Christmas Day went over well. We had prepared some of the food and exchanged gifts with GiGi the day prior, which made it easier to fit our own gift exchange and cooking into one morning with less stress. We all enjoyed our gifts and the boys got enough to keep them busy while we cooked. A snow storm dropped eight inches that morning but we were able to clean out the driveway and my sister’s family was able to make it mostly on time despite the roads.

We were able to spend time with family and get most of dinner cleaned up while we chatted. It was a nice evening but we were exhausted by the end of it and went to bed before ten.

The Week Off

The past few seasons we’ve spent half of our vacation traveling and half staying at home, but not this year. Sally had to work last week, leaving the boys and me on our own. I thought about spending some time outside but we had a cold snap that kept temperatures in the single digits with negative wind chills so we stayed in. I’m a homebody anyway so I didn’t mind it. I knew that we’d be fine as long as we kept busy.

It was a great time for the boys to really discover what was in their stockings and get acquainted with their gifts. They received several Lego sets and we spent a few days assembling them. They are perfectly capable of building sets for 8 – 10 year olds on their own but needed my help with these because they were in the 8 – 14 range. We usually started our mornings with Legos. I’d help build, or mostly build, one piece of the set and they’d play with it while I did some things around the house. A half hour or so later they’d remind me to keep building.

We’d have lunch and then switch to other activities, which usually involved digging into their stockings or other gifts and playing with them while I did things around the house. We also played some video games, played with slime, and assembled our crystal growing kit from a couple of years ago. It worked out well and they had plenty of presents to play with. They also didn’t have to take off their pajamas since we didn’t go anywhere; always a plus.

Clearance Shopping

One of our traditions, so to speak, is to take advantage of all of the goods that go on clearance after the holiday. We mostly hit Target, but will occasionally head to Wal Mart or buy something online. We go twice – a day or so after the holiday when things are 50% off and then a few days or a week later when things are 70 – 90% off. The first time we stock up on stuff that won’t last long – wrapping paper, lights, ornaments, decorations. The second trip is more of a free-for-all. We use it to get stuff for the New Year’s party or the next year’s yankee swap.

I have a habit of stocking up on body wash and shampoo as well. Y’know those holiday gift sets that are all over the place during Christmas? They go on clearance immediately, usually starting at 30% then increasing to 50% and 70% later on. Last year I bought 10 or so gift sets at a 50% discount and had body wash and shampoo for the entire year. This year I brought Sally into the fold. She prefers men’s razors for her legs so the Gillette kit with a razor, two blades, shave gel, a shampoo, a body wash, and a deodorant for $7.50 was a phenomenal fine. A new razor with two blades costs more than that on its own! We bought 10 of them plus some others.

New Years

We wrapped up our time off with a New Year’s party with friends. The boys stayed with GiGi and we all had a great time at our respective parties. Sally brought two games to our party, which were quite a hit. Saran wrap ball, where players try to get to prizes wrapped up into a ball of saran wrap; and the tissue challenge, where players try to empty a box of tissues as fast as possible to win absolutely nothing. Both made for great videos.

We capped off our week with a final day of prep and relaxation. It was time to start layering in real-life again. We went grocery shopping, cleaned around the house, baked some stuff, finished off some projects, played some learning games online, and reviewed sight words to be ready for school. Now we’re ready to head back into the world until our next holiday. We didn’t really go anywhere but we kept busy enough. It was a good holiday.

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