How Do We Do It? Managing Christmas.

All photos on this blog are courtesy of a Nikon D3100 camera that has been provided for the FullPlateFamily in exchange for photo credits and user reviews of accessories.  I have always used a Nikon camera, but never properly.  Thanks to some really great upgrades and proper instruction, my pictures are so much more crisp and I can capture my baby’s faces so much better, before they are no longer babies.

Merry Christmas to all!  It was a whirlwind around here, and by 3pm on Christmas Day you can usually find me asleep in a chair somewhere, the activities of the day having worn me down to the point of having nothing left.  

People want to know how we ‘do’ Christmas.  This year, we did it up.

This year, I was a little more organized then in years past.  The addition of this tiny gentleman would throw me for a loop.  

After having lived through this seven times before, I finally caught on.  I started prepping Christmas right after Halloween.  

Santa and I communicated closely throughout November to make sure he knew the kids wishes.  By the time we mailed letters they were more behavior reports, were they good?  Yes, well, mostly.  

Then we sat on this “Helper” Santa’s lap.  I had to do some quick thinking when Bubbly noticed his beard was fake.  I fear a scene straight out of the movie Elf, because she wouldn’t hesitate to tell him that he “smells like meat and cheese” and that he “sits on a throne of lies.”  The girl doesn’t dig deceit, and she has NO filter.  So, I lied to her and told her Santa is VERY busy this time of year so he sends out emissaries to help with the photos.  

I could explain all the reasons we choose to encourage the kids belief in Santa, and I’m sure I would receive a thousand emails about why I’m a terrible mother (if you’re mentally writing one now, please stop, I don’t want to hear it) and why the truth is an absolute must for children who came from trauma.  Maybe.  Or, maybe she’ll know how much I love her, and how after she came out of hell at the age of three, I wanted her to have a childhood that is filled with magic, so I went to great lengths to help her cling to the childhood she had left for as long as possible.  

After sitting on Santa’s lap, we eat Chinese food.  It’s a family tradition.  

Then we do small things as a family, like build gingerbread trains.  
FPD’s uncle sends the kids one every year.  They love it.  It’s tradition.  

Dressing up on Christmas Eve is also tradition.  

So is getting new pajamas to wear that night.  I shop the Black Friday deals and never pay more then $10/set of pajamas.  

It’s also tradition that we don’t go overboard with gifts.  My kids never complain.  When I started shopping in October, I built the annual spreadsheet.  Each child gets: a small gift from Santa (sometimes he brings one large gift for all the children), something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.  They get a small toy or book in their stocking too.  ‘Wear Its’ sometimes come from the second hand store, or from a deal site on the net.  ‘Read Its’ come from the local library sale, the half price book store, or the Scholastic Book order from school, and ‘Want Its’ have a limit of $20-$25 (sometimes the child uses their own money to make up the difference of a larger priced item).  All told, I don’t spend more then $75 per child.  

They also all buy for each other too.  We draw names and there is a $10 limit.  They save for MONTHS to earn the $10 to buy into the exchange.  I find that the kids LOVE buying for each other, it puts them into the Christmas spirit.  Sometimes, I rig the drawing so that kids that aren’t particularly close to each other draw each other’s names.  I watch them spend time with their brother or sister to learn exactly what they might want.  

With all those smaller packages, it takes almost 90 minutes to open gifts.  This is the part I enjoy most.  

I love the awe all the older kids display over watching the little kids open their gifts.   That’s when I know that they understand what Christmas means in this house, that it’s not about what you get, but watching others discover the joy, sometimes for the first time. 

After our gift bonanza ends, we head to my parents house.  I’m putting my extended family on the blog for the first time.  I’m going to hope they don’t mind.  They are an important part of what Christmas means for my kids.    

My aunts, uncles and cousins were such an important part of what Christmas meant to me as a kid.  So were my grandparents.  I want that to continue for my kids.  

My mom helps Dolly put baby Jesus is the manger of the hand carved nativity.  

My sister watches another gift opening bonanza as the kids open their presents at my parents house.  She loves it, and has never missed it.  Not one Christmas.  Neither have my mom or dad.

Giggles, much like I did as a kid, loves being the one to hand out the presents.  She loved watching my brother and sister-in-law open their gifts.  

 There are always board games when the gift opening is done.  There is always someone that can be talked into playing.  I love that when I don’t feel like it, someone else does, and that someone is endlessly patient.  

Christmas has changed as our family has grown.  This Christmas as I watched Mighty revel in his first Christmas ever, I felt a pang of sadness over the fact that there won’t be any more children coming into our home to be called mine.  FPD and I are done adding children to our family.  I was reminded though that now there will be cousins coming.  My kids will be the ones to watch as smaller children take forever to open their gifts, and they’ll be the ones to play board games as exhausted parents look on.  

I kind of can’t wait for that to come, whenever it happens.  

who is notoriously bad with change, but is A-okay with this one.  It’s someone else’s turn now.  

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