I want people to know we have a real life with real kids and real setbacks, and sometimes posts like Christmas where everyone is smiling and happy makes it easy to forget that being a parent is HARD, so I'm going to come clean.
Christmas day was great, but Christmas EVE day was awful, and it was all my fault. I freaked out at the kids and was having an awful morning; when Patrick asked why I was so grumpy I sat down and really thought about it, then really talked it out with him. What came out was that I was frustrated the kids weren't putting as much importance on their presents as I thought they should (they had broken some toys that morning that I was upset about), and then of course, I realised what I was saying. Not ENOUGH importance on gifts? Who's the idiot here? So I continued talking it out with Patrick, and later that evening with Joe, and we decided that next Christmas will be different - any presents among our little family will be homemade, from the heart and with real purpose, not from the store where I'm going to be upset some kid kicked their $30 toy on accident.
Also, I hadn't spent any time serving people this year, and so the time for me was solely focused on gifts, so next year we will have an advent of sorts where each day we have an activity related to service, like making cards and taking them to people in retirement homes or in the hospital, serving at the soup kitchen, taking meals to families who are struggling, getting families from "the giving tree," or simply making treats for the neighbors. I did service projects at our ward activity, and picked items off our ward "giving tree" but none of the kids were involved in those and seriously, we could be doing so much better! I felt like a dummy for not figuring this out until my 29th Christmas, but better late then never! And still plenty of time for my kids, of course :) So next year will be different, but in the meantime it was a bit late, so we had Christmas in a more traditionally commercial way, opening TONS of gifts, and it really turned out GREAT, the kids had so much fun. I'm certainly not ordering people to not get gifts next year, I know one of the most fun things is to buy awesome toys for kids! (Which is why I got so caught up in it). We will still get gifts for people outside our little nucleus, but I'll have the kids participate in that more and include some of their own work. You'll probably hear more about it next November or so, when we start putting it in action, but for now I'm going to start my planning, put some of those activities in envelopes for us to open next Christmas season, and just try to be a more relaxed mom in general.