Reposting an old favorite (from 2007) again - amazing how many of the details still apply this year too. For me it's a critical part of how I keep joy and sanity in Christmas (Especially for me! I've had a couple of Christmasses with major let-downs in the middle of Christmas day and it's not fun!) Also, another piece that's grown in recent years is how much the kids do in the Christmas process. Because I'm often sick a week or so before Christmas, (still trying to get the allergies under control!) I've had to bring the kids in to do more tasks for me - and it turns out they really enjoy being part of the process. For example, we do a teen movie night in our room some time in the week before Christmas. We all watch a movie and all wrap presents together and have a lot more fun with a lot less stress than trying to do it all myself.
Ah, and so my two updated hints are: 1. The kids will enjoy helping as long as you don't give away all the surprises! 2. Don't be afraid to buy used presents. For us this both opens up the possibilities (because of the reasonable prices) and takes away some of the stress (for the same reason). I'm pretty selective with the used stuff though; basically, it only goes out on Christmas day if it's really like-new. If they'll love it anyway, but it's more obviously used (like a movie with a wrinkled or marked-up case), I'll save it for one of the 12 days of Christmas.
Merry Christmas and a Joyful and Blessed Christmas Season to You and Yours!
1. It makes Christmas Day itself a lot more relaxed with less expectations than if we tried to cram everything into one day. We actually scatter some extra presents out throughout the 12 days and especially on Three Kings Day - part of the fun of this is that the kids never know when there will be something under the tree. Hint #1 - keep Christmas day presents fairly reasonable in size and quantity. Hint #2 - don't give them something every day or it messes with the expectations (ahem... and the pocketbook!). :)
2. It allows us to spend our Christmas Eve Vigil Mass in the "stable" of our church gymnasium in order to attempt to provide many who attend Mass only once a year with a more beautiful and meaningful liturgy (musically speaking) and yet still celebrate Christmas the following Sunday in one of the most beautiful churches I've ever been in (the inside of the dome of St. Josaphat's Basilica is pictured here - click here for more photos). Ria did manage to go to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass later that night with her grandparents (who very kindly brought her back in time for opening presents on Christmas morning) and Gus and I watched Midnight Mass from the National Shrine in D.C. via EWTN.
3. It gives me an excuse to play loads of games of Settlers of Catan (one of the very favorite Christmas presents this year) with the kids and encourage them to keep baking Christmas goodies, even though John had to work for a few days last week. (I hardly ever do any baking any more as my kids love it - warning: it does get messy!)
4. The same goes for listening to Christmas Music.
5. I get to take advantage of crazy after-Christmas sales to supply fun little presents for between Christmas and Three Kings' Day - such as the dollar section at Target at 75% off! :) Yesterday was a day that everyone got to open an item of clothing courtesy of Kohl's 80-90% clearance sections and $20 in Kohl's cash.
5. Many of things people try to cram in before Christmas are still open the week after Christmas too. On the third day of Christmas we went to a fun drive-through light show with John's parents and lots of Christmas music on the car CD player, followed by an indoor look at an amazing nativity set and a fun and enormous set of electric trains.
Also, after visiting the Basilica yesterday, we went to the Milwaukee Public Museum and particularly enjoyed the "European Village" (here's a sample photo, though I can't remember which house this is from - Ria thinks it's the Austrian one) in which each exhibit was still decorated for Christmas and Christmas music was playing throughout. What fun - and this was completely unexpected for us - I never knew that they decorated these houses for Christmas!
6. We still have more time in which to send out our long-neglected Christmas Cards!