We have two Christmas traditions in this house, both of which really can't be called traditions at all, and both of which really got shot all to hell this year, resulting in no sleep and a weird present situation.
BigDaddyFish has always, always done the bulk of his Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. Stores around here have always stayed open late, sometimes until midnight, so this was never a problem. He usually took off work that day because Christmas Eve was always the time we spent with my side of the family at my grandparents house. My grandmother was a neonatal/postpartum nurse for 25 years, and she always, always worked on Christmas Day, so that the other women she worked with who had small children at home could be home with their families. So she always had off work on Christmas Eve and that's when our family gathered at their home for food and presents and general togetherness. I didn't cherish it nearly enough when I was younger, but thankfully I did realize how important it was to me before they died and it went away.
This year BDF started a new job assignment the week before the Christmas holidays, a job assignment that made his 20 minute commute into a one hour each way commute, and that's if there's no accidents or weather mucking things up. He had to work this Christmas Eve, but he was able to arrange his schedule so that he could leave early and do his shopping. His plan was to do some shopping by himself, then come home and get the bigger kids and take them out to get presents for me. This year, for the first time in at least two decades, the stores closed early. Best Buy closed at 5pm, Target and Kohls at 6. He got to do some shopping, but he didn't have time to come get the kids, and the only thing even remotely open late was Borders. So I got a new iPod from Santa. And 13 books from the kids and BDF. And this:
Excuse the freaky hair and jammies, but you know how I feel about the pictures.
Now I get to go out and shop for all the kitchen gear I asked for. And the sweater - can anyone recommend a good source for a black cardigan sweater, preferably cable-knit?
My other tradition is the wrap fest on Christmas Eve. Since we've had kids who were mobile, I didn't really have any way to wrap presents privately in advance of Christmas. This year with four kids who are all pretty much aware it's been particularly hard. What I have always done is put the kids to bed early, around 8pm, get all the presents out of hiding, and sit on the floor watching A Christmas Story marathon and wrap presents. The kids all know that if they come down and see any presents they don't get any presents, so they are appropriately fearful and stay put. It works.
This year, someone forgot to tell Nemo about the tradition. He napped late, despite my best efforts to get him to sleep at 1 and then 2, he never went down, so I figured he'd just skip the nap and go to bed early. When he fell asleep in his high chair at 6 I figured he'd just sleep through. No so. He got up about 7:30 and then wouldn't go to bed until midnight. I started my wrapping, STARTED it, at 12:30 am. BDF helped, but we still both went to bed at 7am. The kids helpfully slept in until 9. Weren't they nice? It was a lot of wrapping:
The scary thing is that isn't even all of it. There's a bunch of stuff to the right, across from these presents, that are Santa presents, and not all of them were even wrapped. Every year we tell the kids that it's going to be a lean Christmas, that all they will get are presents from Santa and one present from each of us, and every year we go completely overboard. Next year, we really will scale down, because I'm not spending all night wrapping. Seriously. It can happen.
Here are a few more gratuitous shots of the carnage that is left on Christmas morning when you have 4 small kids and two parents who spoil them.
If you celebrated the holidays, I hope they were glorious, and if you didn't, I hope you enjoyed a day of quiet and rest. Happy birthday to Fish-Flopper and Godfather Mike, and Happy New Year to everyone else. May 2009 be gracious to you all.