Some Christmases are more successful than others... and this one was one of those that make the other Christmases look like a schmuck! We had a WONDERFUL time!
I was a little stressed out at the beginning of December when my goal of having all my shopping done got pushed back, and back, and the 1st quickly became the 18th.... but I got it all done before Christmas, and it hasn't always happened that way! And somewhere in the middle there we had some friends watch all the kids for us and Joe and I had a wonderful shopping day to ourselves - it was one of the magical shopping moments where you find just what you're looking for and you're in the mood to buy it without hesitation.
Sometimes I get caught up second-guessing myself, even when it will obviously be good in the long run - this happens a lot with grocery shopping! For instance: I know I'll need more oatmeal soon, but how soon is soon? Oatmeal's not on sale right now, so maybe I should wait? But maybe I'll need it soon and I should get it now (splurge on the extra 50 cents, since it's not on sale, heaven forbid). But seriously, nobody in my family is that crazy about oatmeal, so I should definitely wait, right? I hem and haw and stand there for approximately 180478378 years, make my decision NOT to buy the oatmeal and firm up my resolve to not take this long on my next shopping purchases, but then I come to the cold cereal.... and it starts all over again. And I get home, exhausted from my mentally challenging shopping experience so I want to make No Bake Cookies, and it turns out we are OUT OF OATMEAL.
So I was worried it would be like this with Christmas shopping! But NO, it was AWESOME, and on top of it all we got to go out to lunch without kids, so we had huge, greasy, delicious burgers from Five Guys. Anything that wasn't purchased that whirlwind day was bought with Amazon Prime and came in plenty of time for no-stress wrapping (and led to plenty of remember when Amazon was an online site for buying books, and who even needed that? conversations.)
As a common-but-still-cute-tradition we bought new pajamas for the kids to wear Christmas Eve. The Cat&Jack line from Target had adorable stuff that really fit each kid's personality, so Ethan got diggers, Eli got a bear, Patrick got a Triceratops, and Caroline got a dress.
Debbie and John sent their packages with LOTS of time to spare, and far exceeded our own purchases in sheer volume! By the time we had all presents set out, our tree skirt was full to the brim... but there is a moment if disappointment when you come out Christmas morning and the presents look basically the same as the night before (even though seriously, there are a million presents), so Santa came by Christmas Eve and added chairs and tables for a multi-layer stacking effect. And, as is our tradition, the stockings were removed from the mantle, filled with candy and a few small gifts, and set by a large Santa gift somewhere in the room, so there were presents everywhere.
Sure enough, Christmas morning there were GASPS of delight from the kids (yessssss!). You know it's a good gasp when you can hear them all the way down the hall in your bedroom :) We got clothes and books and toys and gifts-asked-for and total-surprise-gifts, we got games for now and experiences for later (paid-for classes starting in January). The big surprise gift was a keyboard for the kids, with a set of headphones (for the parents' sanity). We were SO BLESSED with gifts!
Ethan left the hubbub after he opened his matchbox cars from Debbie and digger from Santa - he was content to play in the other room on his road!
Christmas on a Sunday is looked forward to with dread, but we decided we would use 11:00 church to slow down our morning and stretch it out into a whole day, so we opened most of our gifts before church, then attended a special one-hour service that was centered around music (which makes me cry) and had a few speakers (which also made me cry). It was a wonderful break from the physical to appreciate the spiritual. I had a moment, while we were singing and I was crying, where I could see the older members of the ward as the young children, when they were singing with their parents and their grandparents, and I could see the very young children in the ward and how they will be the grandparents, singing alongside their children and grandchildren, and it all happens in the space of a moment. The days are long, but the years fly by, and all of these generations pass in a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, and we are ALL blessed by the birth of our Savior, and by his sacrifice for every single one of us. Including me! In that very moment! It was a wonderful moment.
Wonderful days filled with wonderful moments: a Christmas miracle.