I really wanted to better enjoy the holidays this year & I thought I was well on my way when the month started, but as it went on the usual stresses set in. Okay, stress. The thing I hate the most about the holidays is neighbor gifts. There, I said it. I'm a terrible person. I love our friends and "neighbors" but I stress out every single year about having to show that love.
I'm always trying to figure out a frugal way to do lots of gifts without having to slave in the kitchen or on any one thing for days and still give out something nice or cool. Pretty much not possible. I was honestly in tears the weekend before Christmas. I had wanted to be done with neighbor gifts by the 2nd weekend of the month, but it didn't happen. Thus the usual holiday stress because it was now the "last minute." When you wait till the last minute (the 21st) to deliver neighbor gifts it adds stress (for me at least) because there are people who are going to feel bad that you're giving them something & they didn't include you on their list. And since it's a few days before Christmas there's no time to graciously reciprocate. And I certainly don't care if I give something to someone & they don't give something to me, but I still don't want them to feel bad. I love to overthink everything. I agonize over who I should include on our list. Like this: if I give something to family A then do I need to give something to family B since A & B are good friends & we've all hung out, even though we wouldn't probably hang out with family B on our own? But I do like family B. But maybe it would be weird if I included them. Or lame since it's 4 days before Christmas.
SEE? I care way too much about other people's feelings I think. I actually had a few of our treats packaged & ready to deliver & was even on my way to one family's house but turned around & decided not to because of above-mentioned reasons. They & the other families got crossed off my list at the last second because I was too embarrased!
Next year I swear that by the 2nd weekend of the month I will have my neighbor gifts done. Of course I swore that this year & it didn't happen. But maybe if I'd written down how bad it sucks the previous year I could have read it this year & got my butt in gear. So here's to timely, stress-free neighbor gifts in 2011!
Oh, what was the neighbor gift? I came across this brilliant inspiration here for hot chocolate on a stick and took it one step farther by using a candy cane that I cut the crook off of for the stick. I used her printable directions too & changed it to Merry Christmas (I just like that better). My pictures are of course nothing like the inspiration pictures, but the final product was WAY cute irl! It was really fun when a couple people called to tell me how much they loved it. Everyone loves a pat on the back, right? :D
Okay, moving on. A few years ago after spending enough Christmases with Jeremiah's family to adopt their traditions, I made my family change theirs. Growing up, Christmas Eve was nothing special. If we had a tradition it would be ordering Little Caesar's at 7pm while my mom was locked in her bedroom till all hours of the night wrapping presents. My mom was a working gal then & that's just when she was able to get to it. But now we're all grown up & things are different.
So what I love about Jeremiah's family's traditions: They ALWAYS go to Grandpa & Grandma Divis' for Christmas Eve dinner with as much of the extended family as possible. Grandpa Divis always reads the Christmas story from the scriptures. Once Jeremiah's family is back at home they open up the sibling exchange presents (as well as pajamas, a tradition that I like but modified). On Christmas day there isn't a huge meal. My first Christmas with Jeremiah's family was strange because of that - I've ALWAYS had a big Christmas dinner. I thought it was just so wrong! :) They will still cook a ham but it's to snack on & not for a formal sit-down. But guess what? Now I love all those things & have forced my own (as in my parents/siblings) to embrace these things.
Our Christmas Eve dinner the last few years has been prime rib, instead of the turkey & ham I grew up on for Christmas. I LOVE prime rib, and it's a treat because it's crazy expensive I think. Only because we haven't ever found it in normal sized portions to buy. Sure it's only $3.99/lb but when you can't find smaller than 17lb portions it gets spendy! So the only issue with dinner this year (and it was sort of a big one) was that I didn't buy the meat ahead of time & I didn't look over my recipe ahead of time. I tried to buy the meat on the 23rd while I was at WalMart, but I couldn't find it. I'm assuming WalMart doesn't carry prime rib. So as I'm looking at the recipe on Christmas Eve at about noon I see that the prime rib is supposed to be in the oven for 5 hours! Crap! I wasn't ready to run out to the store so I asked Jeremiah to grab it, but it was a while before he could leave work & it was 2 before we got it in the oven! So that moved our dinner back at least 2 hours right off the bat. But then our prime rib was a lot bigger than what the recipe called for so it wasn't done anywhere close to on time. We ended up feeding the kids around 7 & doing the nativity, and then the adults all ate around 8:30! Lame, huh?! Again, next year I need to be reading all of this so I can BE PREPARED!!! Thank goodness we didn't invite anyone over this year!
So here's my favorite picture from our little family nativity. Joseph & Mary had bad attitudes. And then there's our angel, happy to be in a "princess" dress! I love it!
Before the kids went to bed we let them open up their gifts to each other. Callie chose a mini Etch A Sketch for Jack and a little bag of Toy Story army guy LEGOs, Jack gave Ellie a pink bouncy ball & a bag of Skittles, & Ellie gave Callie a little Shrinky Dink set & a container of gum. As far as pajamas go, I decided years ago that instead of doing Christmas Eve pj's we'd give our kids Christmas pj's on Thanksgiving night. That way they could wear them throughout the holiday season. I know I could do everyday pj's for them to open Christmas Eve, but come on, I want them wearing their Christmas jammas on Christmas morning, not plain old everyday jammas! :) And it would be a waste to not give them Christmas themed pj's until Christmas Eve when the season is over. So that's my pj tradition modification.
Onto Christmas morning. I considered taking pictures, but in the end I decided to stay where I was & enjoy the moment with the kids & just write about it later. I regret that.
When Jack went to bed on Christmas Eve he asked Jeremiah if Santa might really give him coal for Christmas. Jeremiah said we'd have to see. Jack was being an optimist & said that even if Santa did give him coal it would be okay because he'd add it to his rock collection! Jack was the first child up on Christmas morning. He saw his wrapped present from Santa & was SO excited & did a little laugh & said "Santa brought me a present! He didn't bring me coal, he brought me a present!" It was absolutely priceless! I love that boy so much!
Santa brought Callie an Easy Bake Oven, the one thing she'd been pining over since before her birthday (Jul 1)! She was ELATED! Very very sadly, Santa forgot to bring her a lightbulb & we seriously did not have a single lightbult that would be even close to working :( It wasn't until a few days later that Callie & I baked her first Easy Bake masterpiece. Okay, not really a masterpiece. We didn't set the timer & lost track of time so it overbaked by a couple of mins. Instead of a yellow cake with chocolate frosting she had a yellow crunchy cookie with chocolate frosting! :) She still loved it & is excited to use her oven some more.
Jack really wanted this toy Spike the Dinosaur. He's a big remote control dino with a big price tag to match. If it were a toy that I feel he could have had for years to come I would have gladly encouraged Santa to bring it for him, but I know my kids. So when Jack asked Santa to bring Spike I explained to him that when toys are that expensive at the store, the elves have to work extra extra hard to make that kind of toy, and they just can't spend that much time making one child's toy. I had to tell him that several times during the season. One day close to Christmas he said, "Yeah, but I asked for Spike last year too & so maybe the elves could work on part of it last year & part of it this year so that it won't be too much work at once." He's so clever! Early in the season though I encouraged him to ask for a Hot Wheels set he'd played with & loved at a friend's house. So Santa brought Jack a Hot Wheels Dr. Bones Color Lab, and guess what? Jack loves it! And he wasn't sad about not getting Spike.
Ellie wanted a "baby doll just like Callie's." Early on I'd planned on asking Santa to bring her a Bitty Baby of her own, but then I got practical & decided she already had a baby she loved so why spend $45 on a Bitty Baby? I was really proud of myself for coming to that conclusion! So instead Santa was asked to bring her some more Snap N Style dolls & stuff. She loves Callie's old ones so I figured she'd be thrilled to have some more of them. But as the days to Christmas grew closer she kept talking about the baby doll that she wanted. She climbed in bed with Jeremiah & me one morning & we were talking about it & she was very adamant that she wanted a baby doll just like Callie's. That did it. I caved & sent in her order to Santa as soon as I got out of bed! She was VERY happy to open up her Bitty Baby from Santa on Christmas morning!
I tried to keep Christmas simple this year because last year was ridiculous. The only other thing that Jeremiah & I got our kids was a robe & a pillow pet (yes, you read that right. I bought my children a stupid pillow pet). But with gifts from grandparents & aunts/uncles, they were still spoiled & had lots to open.
Ellie got these sunglasses in her stocking from Santa & wore them around for quite a bit Christmas day. It didn't bother her at all that her hair was in her face!
Santa put a bunch of dart refills in Jack's stocking for his dart guns he got for his birthday, so Jeremiah & Jack had an all out war in the afternoon!
The rest of the day was spent snacking, napping, relaxing & playing. It was also really fun being able to talk to my 2 brothers, both on missions in Mexico (Veracruz & Mexico City West). In fact my Veracruz bro's mission pres let him do Skype! I couldn't believe it! I thought it was fun being able to see him for the first time in almost 2 years! They'll both be home mid-April. So despite my bad attitude earlier in the week from the tree & neighbor gift stuff, it was a great Christmas.
Oh this picture is from a few nights later, but here's our redecorated Christmas tree!
And that wraps up our 2010 Christmas! I'm so punny, I know!