Getting a jump on Christmas

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We’ve started mailing out Christmas cards. I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving but it’s proving to be a good way to get the girls out in these almost winter temperatures.

I’m missing summer. I’m missing the girls throwing on their Crocs and being ready to go out. The not having to wait for them to put on all the clothes in the universe, and getting distracted from the layers. All the layers. All the time.

Of course the exception to this is when it snows and then they will be dressed in seconds and dragging me out.

Our first (technically third) Christmas together

If there is anything having small children has taught me it’s keep things simple. Zoey and Nomi get excited by the little things in life and we are embracing that to have a simple Christmas. Twin toddlers are enough work – why add to it?

This is our third Christmas but really the first one they are old enough to enjoy. There are so many things I would love to do with them. A local production of Wind in the Willows, the Christmas tree in the town square, caroling, a bustling holiday market, a trip back to the UK to see family and a panto (“He’s behind you!”), visiting friends in the city and more gawking at lights. But these are mostly things I want to do they are not things the girls care about (let alone Alex!).

They are two. Having a tree with fairy lights in the living room is the height of excitement so why traipse to our local town square or into the city in the dark when the likely outcome will be more tears before bedtime. We tried taking them for a post dinner (5:30pm) walk to look at our neighbors lights but we didn’t get far before the wails for “sleeping time” set in so there’s little point in taking them further afield.

I can’t wait to share a Christmas theater experience with them, be it Wind in the Willows or A Christmas Carol or a panto in the UK but they are still too young to sit still. We can just about get through a meal with bums on seats and that’s with chicken legs and pudding as a hook. Our trip to the grocery store yesterday had them helping with everything. We still had to push two carts even though they won’t sit in them as they want their own cart to push and fill, and they may briefly want to sit in them to get a better look at the fish counter. So as much as I love theater (and loved it as a kid and seeing a production of A Christmas Carol is one of my earliest memories) and want to share it I will wait. (A local Shakespeare company does Shakespeare in the park for families in the summer. You can drift in and out of their plays so we might try that.)

I made a simple advent calendar out of felt squares that I can drop two squares of chocolate in every night. Two year olds are not known for their self control so the thought of buying pre-loaded chocolate advent calendars and then trying to explain that you don’t open all the doors at the same time. Yeah, that wouldn’t lead to a river of tears would it?

So this December we’ll be slowly decorating our tree (why rush an activity that could fill several afternoons), drinking lots of hot chocolate and having friends over to decorate cookies. It will feel like a special time of the year without all the rushing about and minimize over tiring the tiny humans in our life.

I must say that the thing the girls are most excited about is the prospect of snow. I hope it lives up to their expectations when it finally arrives, and they aren’t too disappointed that Pingu doesn’t come with it.

And, if anyone needs help wrapping presents they are really good at cutting tape and sticking. Unstoppable in that way two years are.

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An alternative gift guide for toddlers

I was having a flick through The Land of Nod’s September catalogue and had a chuckle at the Christmas gift guides for babies and toddlers (and young kids too for that matter). This will be our third Christmas as a family, and we are still going to be keeping it simple on the gifts for them because it makes no difference if they get a new toothbrush or an expensive toy.  I’d rather spread out the bigger gifts over the year because in the first few years they are more linked to developmental stages than designated holidays, and over the next year we are probably going to think about getting them tricycles, outdoor toys (sand table, water table, up date the swing set in the garden) and a play kitchen. And who knows what else…

(I also want to keep expectations around birthdays and Christmases low, and I know expectations are relative and ours probably place us in the high end of middle class frugal.)

For the girls first Christmas they got no gifts from us. They were two months old. They had sucked the life out of us with near constant feeding (+12 bottles per day times 2) and crying and wanting to be held all the time, and more crying and not sleeping at night. So come to Christmas they got nothing but our souls and tears.

Last year the girls were 14 months old, and I was still physically recovering from the strain of Sandy, and Zoey wasn’t sleeping or eating well. I wasn’t in the ho-ho-ho mode but things were better (I made mince pies from scratch and we bought a small tree!) than the previous two Christmases (2010 was a whole other ballgame) so we got the girls a few gifts: water bottles, t-shirts, toothbrushes and bouncy balls. The girls didn’t have any interest in ripping paper but enjoyed playing with it once scrunched up, and their gifts were a hit. But, that said tupperware would also have been a big hit.

This year I am feeling the ho-ho-ho. There will be a tree, and lights on our house. George Michael’s ‘Last Christmas’ and Mariah Carey ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ will be on repeat. There will be hot chocolate and home-made Turkish delight. But we still keep our gifts to the girls simple because they will only be 2, and they have no idea what is on The Land of Nod’s gift guide. Ssssh!

At the moment, between their socks and presents under the tree, I’m thinking: jigsaws, picture dominoes, toothbrushes, water bottles, combs and brush, a new Telsa t-shirt (size 4yo obviously), vests/pjs, crayons/colored pencils & note pad,a few new books,  bouncy balls, and perhaps some dress-up items. That sounds like quite a haul to me! Oooh and folding chairs for the beach/camping that we got on sale. This makes me feel like we will be kicked out of middle class frugal!

Happy Christmas!

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