This year I was really proud of how well I did with shopping. Jeff asked me to handle the kids solo and for the most part I did, although he did get a few things. We try to stick to three presents per kid (not including a stocking) and we ended up at four for the boys because Jeff saw some stuff he HAD to get them but made the extras presents that were for sharing. Just before Thanksgiving I saw a sale on board games at Toys R Us and jumped on it. We had the best luck with them for this year between shipping costs or being able to order and pick up quickly in store. For Jeff, I managed to get him some graphic tees and a pair of fun boxers but also found one of his requested movies in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart. And SCORE that meant he got a second movie.
Joey got lots of gifts at his pre-K. It is housed at a community college in conjunction with an early childhood education degree program they have and we were blown away by the generosity of others. His teachers had an optional stocking program where kids could bring in a stocking they had decorated and parents volunteered to send in small items to put in each stocking. Not only was that stocking busting, but there were more gifts. The wife of one of the instructors at the community college had knitted a stuffed animal for every child in the program. His teachers went out and bought gifts for each child, but instead of making them all the same, they bought a number of “girl” and “boy” presents, wrapped them and the kids could pick one randomly. Then the president of the college and one of the other staffers got together and created a bag of snacks/goodies for the kids that they wrapped up festively and included a cute reindeer ornament with. And often there were extras of things that got passed to Will. He is very excited about going to pre-K next year now.
But what was most impressive to me, was that although my kids were REALLY excited about presents, they were more excited about seeing family and spending time as a family. Joey had been introduced to hot chocolate in his pre-K class and he, Will and I began an evening tradition of hot chocolate with marshmallows (including the snowman ones) and whipped cream. On nights it wasn’t raining (which happened a LOT these last couple of weeks) we enjoyed walking after dinner around the neighborhood. And I’ve been invited multiple times to sleep up on the boys’ bunk beds. Joey has started asking for hugs and kisses each night from both Jeff and I and his brother and sister. Shelby has enjoyed snuggling with her brothers when they allow her and Will told me many times how much he loves both Shelby and Joey being home. Not to mention everyone enjoying Daddy having his Christmas break as well.
Tomorrow we go back to school/work and life returns to some kind of “normal.” But we return having a greater appreciation for one another and that’s more than any Christmas haul we could have bought.