I hope you’re all having a fantastic holiday season! The week between Christmas and New Years has always been one of my favorite times of year. Work-wise, it’s a bit crazy around here because of all the changes that the ACA has brought and open enrollment season being in full swing. But we’re still fitting in lots of time with our boys and we were able to get a lot of our family together on Christmas Day, which was awesome.
My sister moved out of state last March, and we hadn’t seen her since then. She had said she wouldn’t be able to get back for Christmas, but then surprised us by showing up at the last minute. Best Christmas present ever! We always host Christmas at our house, and we had all of my siblings, my parents, and my sister-in-law’s parents as well. Other than a couple of little gifts that my sister brought for our boys, there was no gift exchange at all. Instead, everyone brought food to share (we had enough for about twice as many people as were here… leftovers for the rest of the week makes me a very happy mama!) and lots of great ideas for fun and entertainment. Stories were read (and made up by the more creative members of our group). Songs were sung. Instruments were played (we had guitars, but my sister-in-law’s mother also brought Native American flutes and a ukelale – and she let our sons play them, which made their day). Food was eaten. It was awesome.
In the morning, before everyone arrived, we opened gifts with our sons. My husband and I stopped getting Christmas presents for each other years ago, but we did get a few small things for our sons. And my mother-in-law always sends them a few things too. So they each had several gifts to open. Their favorites – hands down – have been some things that I picked up at a thrift store a couple weeks ago on half price day.
A Lego airplane has been occupying our older son for hours. It came with instructions but was missing a few pieces. Since he already has a pretty extensive Lego collection, he’s been improvising, choosing pieces he already has that most closely resemble the few pieces that weren’t included with the plane. Awesome fun and it was only four dollars (it still had the original $50 price tag on it when I got it):
Both boys have been loving this little train station that I got for $2. It fits together with their large collection of wooden tracks and trains, and they’ve been building tracks all over the living room, incorporating their new clear-top train station:
Our two year old absolutely loves monster trucks. This one was $1.50 and has a space for batteries underneath. I have no idea what it would do if you put batteries in it, and we don’t plan to find out. Because it’s fantastic without batteries. Our little guy has been driving it all over the house: up over the couches, under tables, onto his bed… there’s nowhere this thing can’t go, and he loves it.
We also got him a great little hammer and peg toy, for 75 cents. It’s amazing how long he’ll pound this thing, with a huge smile on his face. My parents and my SIL’s parents were all commenting about how they had similar toys as children… some things are just timeless fun.
And this set of dominos has been a hit as well. Our son’s kindergarten teacher has dominos that she uses for math – the kids count the dots and add them up. But the dominos we had at home were decorated with farm animals instead of dots, so they weren’t much good for domino math. Our son had made himself some out of cardboard a few weeks ago, but they were getting a bit ragged. So I couldn’t pass up these awesome wooden dominos in a great little cloth bag, for $2:
All together, those gifts came to just over ten dollars. We had a couple other small items under the tree, and our total spending was about $15. I also made a scrapbook for my mother-in-law (about $30) and we donated to various charities in honor of several friends. But in terms of total “stuff” purchased for Christmas, we spent very little and had a very small footprint, since everything but the scrapbook was second hand.
Our boys loved their gifts. And they loved all the delicious food on Christmas. But that evening, as we were tucking them into bed, I asked our five year old what his favorite thing about the day had been. Without any hesitation, he said “Having everyone come over.” Our two-year-old agreed. The best part of Christmas was having so many loved ones around, just having fun. The gifts paled in comparison.