Every year we get a little better at the holidays. We failed miserably in more than a few areas when we started. Late presents, no presents, badly timed holiday activities, realizing at the end of a long day we had no idea what we'd eat for Christmas dinner, etc, etc... Every year we get it together a little more. Gaining inches here and there. Last year wasn't bad except for Isaac's heartbreaking reaction to most of his gifts, some last minute DIY finishing, misplaced (temporarily) gifts, and overall stress. We even baked, decorated and then forgot to leave out Santa's cookies last year. On the plus side last year we finally nailed splitting time between our 4 sets of parents in a satisfactory way (which is no small gain). All the gifts were delivered on time and dinner was pretty good too.
This year was pretty amazing. It definitely left last year in the dust. I didn't win the lottery, hire a nanny or find myself suddenly free of all physical limitation (although those would have been great Christmas gifts). I just did things differently. I started shopping for the kids birthdays and Christmas in September which ended up really helping. I made Christmas a full time job (even more than I normally do) for months. I was determined everyone would get nice, thoughtful gifts. I wanted to relax Christmas Eve knowing everything was ready for Santa. I wanted to pat myself on the back rather than dropping from exhaustion while mentally ticking off the list of things to improve for next year. Guess what? I totally did it! I scored free wrapping paper not once, but six times through clever couponing. I got quite a few awesome Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals too. I kept my eyes and ears open and really worked for those nice gifts when they were reasonably priced. I used every resource and most of my energy and got the job done. I snatched up my Christmas roast on sale. Most of the awesome things filling the stockings (Crayola markers/paints, tiny transformer figures, screwdriver shaped pencils, candy, etc) I got on sale with coupons. I was even able to make donations this year: Crayons to the local library and an awesome Barbie and a board game to Toys For Tots! I can't tell you how good that felt.
Despite my requesting we take a year off from our traditional DIY gifts to alleviate day of stress Mike insisted on repeating his coffee project (roasting it himself in gourmet flavors). It was much appreciated, by everyone but me. I had hungry kids in the car looking at books Christmas morning while we waited for him to finish up the label printing so we could go to the family brunch...sigh!
Every gift was thoughtfully chosen, wrapped, sorted into piles according where it needed to go and ready with time to spare. Santa's treats and the reindeer food were out before the kids visions' of sugar plums commenced and I even had the roast and veggies in the crock pot (I opened it Christmas Eve) before bed. In years past I have either failed to get Mike a gift or felt remiss that I couldn't "do better". Not this year, he got a Ninja (like a bigger Magic Bullet), Hugo 3D and an awesome hardware caddy (or as I like to call it a "bits and pieces keeper") with a couple hundred pieces of hardware already in it. All of them were hits.
Speaking of hits, besides replacing my broken crock pot with a larger, programmable one (which I made the roast in), Mike also replaced my broken Kindle with a better one, installed a remote dimmer switch on the bedroom light for me (WOOHOO!) and got me a nice paper cutter. A+ for sure! Everyone loved their stocking hauls this year too (and EVERYONE's stocking was full).
The kids were thrilled with their gifts this year. Expectations seemed much more realistic and before every gift opening event this year we discussed everything we already have and how thankful we are to have it (to try and curb the "Gimmies"). I think they did well. I heard a lot of sincere Thank Yous. If anything, I think they were a bit overwhelmed by the abundance. I know I was. Nothing felt rushed (expect the a fore mentioned coffee labels) and with the exception of dropping one gift out of the box on the way out the door, which Mike had to drive back home to get Christmas morning, nothing felt forgotten. We ended the day with happy kids and full bellies.
Everything seemed to be as it should be.