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: