Best Christmas Ever. Maybe it’s because it’s been unseasonably warm. Maybe it’s because we’re getting into our groove. Maybe it’s because we really worked to make giving fun. But whatever it was, this Christmas was . . . really great. Which is not to say we didn’t have our stressful moments, our late nights, our plans gone wrong and the like, but in the end it all came together like a perfect performance after some worrying dress rehearsals.
We tried to give the kids some extra opportunities to be involved in giving, which was where things mostly went wrong. Or if not wrong, at least not smoothly. After school one day I took them up to the main post office on 8th Ave and 31st. (“This doesn’t look like a post office! It looks more like the White House!” Simon said.) We signed up to participate in Operation Santa, where the post office lets you read some “undeliverable mail” to Santa and then pick one or two or ten letters to respond to—meaning purchase gifts and have them delivered. We read 10 letters, some of which were written by parents, some by kids, and settled on one from a 5-year-old who wanted a blue bike with training wheels. We thought it would be easy to just get one gift and we could have it taken care of in one night. Not so. We ended up having to order a bike from a store, and by the time it got delivered to them, it was Dec. 23rd. So Merry Christmas to that little boy . . . next week. But we’re hoping the kids benefitted from it anyway.
Our other big endeavor was to have the kids make gifts for each other. We brainstormed at the beginning of December, but didn’t get around to helping them make the gifts until . . . Dec. 23rd. But they worked hard, Micah and I helped out, and the kids were both really proud of how they turned out and really excited to see their siblings open their gifts. So that was a win.
The last experiment we tried was an idea stolen from a friend: do something for someone else Christmas morning, before opening gifts. We decided to take some scones over to the local firehouse. The kids helped make the scones the day before and we baked them up Christmas morning. I was surprised that there was no griping about having to wait to open gifts or to get all dressed to go out. And, in fact, we sang Christmas carols during the 10 minute walk over there. But then . . . no one was there. The truck and all the firefighters were gone. We stepped back to try to figure out what to do and just then the truck came around the corner and pulled into the firehouse. Christmas miracle. We gave the very tired looking firefighters the goods and wished them a Merry Christmas and sang carols all the way home.
I don’t know if that little activity had anything to do with it, but I like to think that maybe doing something for someone else primed the kids to be a little less focused on themselves through the gift-opening portion of the day. Micah and I had thought about which gifts might be the ones to cause tears of jealousy and cries of unfairness, but it wasn’t until we were getting dinner ready that we realized that there had been no tears at all. Everyone was happy. Even at the end, when Simon still had 3 gifts to open and the other two had none, they were all just excited for him to open them and see what he got. Three cheers for that.
We hope your Christmas was half as good, because if it was, it was undoubtedly a very Merry Christmas indeed.