Sunday, January 4, 2015

Our Christmas

We had a lovely Christmas around here. Last year, with all the twin complications going on, was the first year in the history of our family that I felt it was not the best Christmas ever. So this year, I was thankful to once again feel that we had the best Christmastime ever.

Not only did Boaz celebrate his First Christmas this year, but I am also keenly aware of the fact that we may only have a handful more Christmases with our oldest ones still living at home. Sniff!!! This growing up thing is happening way too fast! I am so glad that we took off the whole time from Thanksgiving week until today, even though it made for more work between extra activities to keep the kids busy, and them slacking on their usual responsibilities a bit. And being super hyper leading up to Christmas from sheer excitement!

Finally, I found we struck the perfect balance of buying the kids nice gifts, without overdoing it, spoiling them and overwhelming our limited living quarters. Also, we staggered the gift opening in a way that was less chaotic and rushed, while offering more time to enjoy the gifts individually. We will be repeating this pattern from here on out. This is what we did:

Gifts in the mail from relatives etc.: Opened upon arrival

Gifts between the children: Christmas Eve before dinner
(each child gives one gift to the person whose name they drew in November)

Gifts between the parents: Christmas Eve after kids are in bed

Gifts from parents to children and children to parents: Christmas morning, but don't wake us early! :)

The big boys got a joint gift of a Lego castle, as well as some books, one small individual gift each, and lights for their bike tires (= fun and practical). This is in addition to the gift they each got from another sibling, and what came in the mail.

The girls love playing with princess Playmobil. Becky got the castle in the picture below a couple of years ago, so this year, we bought them one other castle (it's no longer sold, but I found it on Craigslist with no figures or anything, just the empty castle), and each of the girls got a set for a different room in the castle. So now they can use these castles to fill them with various rooms, depending on what they are pretending that day. Usually, it's weddings. :)

The girls also each got a couple of individual gifts (doll stuff - they are all into that right now).

Stephen got a couple of Playmobil 123 sets, which he loves. With him being the 7th child, we already have a nice collection, but he likes the vehicles best of all so we got him the dump truck and the backhoe. Boaz, in our typical (and apparently controversial) fashion did not get any gifts on his first Christmas, besides getting to play with the wrapping paper and boxes. Because, let's face it, eating mashed potatoes, watching the lights and excitement, and tearing gift wrap are the most important aspects of this holiday for a 7-month old ;)

My husband gave me a beautiful, handmade (by an artisan, not him *wink*) wooden cutting board. I had seen it earlier in the month at one of the booths at the German Christmas market. I did not know that when he went back to feed the meter, he also stopped by the booth to buy it. Needless to say, I was blown away. It took me a few days to get over the mental barrier of cutting mundane things like onions on top of an artistic masterpiece, but the wood is holding up beautifully, and not even showing any marks from cutting.

The children gave me a Lego set for a model of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, as well as a beautiful shawl/scarf/wrap made of bamboo and wool. Both were very thoughtful and perfect gifts that I was thrilled to receive.

My sanity was perfectly preserved on Christmas Day because I served a breakfast that took zero work on my part - frozen overnight croissants from Trader Joe's. Lunch was a honey glazed ham with all the sides, but I kept it pretty down to earth and enjoyed the day instead of just cooking.

So, yes, a great Christmas for many reasons. 

Thank you to everyone who mailed us a Christmas card, and I apologize that we did not send out any this year except for a handful to immediate family. I saw this idea on Large Families On Purpose, and just loved it:


  1. I love the idea of opening the presents at different times! We have a family of 11 and it has always been a challenge here as well. We also have far too much toys already, so we try to do it very different nowadays: sometimes we would buy one large box of Playmobil and make small packages of the parts. Everybody loves Playmobil here. The last few years we have been giving 'experiences' instead of real toys: a weekend out with the family, eating out, going to a fun park etc.

  2. I like how you staggered gifts. that is a great idea! I love how you bought group and individual gifts, and how you kept it all within reason. Do your children have a playroom of some sort? I just wonder what you do as far as storage goes for toys and the children's things. My one baby doesn't have a ton of stuff and I STILL feel like we are running out of room!

  3. What a beautiful Christmas! And such joyful children! We don't buy our youngest presents on Christmas, either. He's 1.5 yo and celebrated his second Christmas this year. Our children don't mind letting him open their gifts (or try to) and he's content with all the excitement. Next year we will probably get him a few of his own, but I don't think little ones are missing out if they don't have gifts to open. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I think the funnest part about the girls being into doll stuff right now is the fact that they can make clothes for them ;)

    I've never seen anyone do small carpentry for doll houses though, do people do that?

    Maybe one of your boys will be an architect one day, legos are the gateway to beautiful buildings haha

    Happy Holidays to your family, maybe i'll send a card to y'all next year :) (I love sending cards Zsu, I really do)

  5. smart smart lady!!!!!! and your family is BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  6. What a wonderful Christmas! And I love the gift-opening schedule - I think we'll try that in the future! Do you include all the children in the gift drawing, or just the school-age ones?

    Merry Christmas!!

  7. So glad you had better Christmas. The kids looked elated!!! Fun memories. Love you all!!!

  8. Sounds like a wonderful holiday. Couldn't help to notice that you mentioned you may only have a few more years with the the oldest living at home....where would he go? He will be what, 18? Off to school? Married, surely not at such a young age. I think you have way more years with your whole family than you think. Don't be in such a hurry to have them leave. There is plenty of time, believe me.

  9. Praise the Lord for the Best Christmas Ever! You are seriously my long lost sister I got my daughter a house on craigslist for Christmas too and my boys legos!

  10. We love Playmobil and dolls too! How do you keep the littles out of all those small peices??? My three year old loves Playmobil and Calico Critters but her brothers (2 and 7 m) are always trying to grab them and ruining her set ups and chewing on things, which results in lots of screaming and fights. Thanks.


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