A Quiet Moment Before THE Day

This was a quiet family moment from this past Sunday taken in our family room (aptly named, don’t you think? *grin*). The temperature was a bone-chilling seven degrees outside, the wind was whistling and rattling our windows, and we were cozy inside with a roaring fire, cheery Christmas music and comfortable family silence.

I love these moments, they are true family moments to me – just time spent together, doing separate things. 😀

The boys are now officially on winter break. I spent the day mopping and vacuuming floors, running last minute errands (which included picking up our honey-baked ham and turkey because HELLO?! I don’t cook and definitely not well) and having lunch with my husband. The husband has to work until noon tomorrow and then we can completely relax once again and enjoy each other’s company.

I’m taking a short blog break – I’ll be back December 26th, or December 27th (it depends on how tired I am Friday).

In the meantime, please feel free to catch up on some posts (I know I post entries pretty fast – sorry about that. It’s what I DO).

Here are a few that might interest you:

The REAL Christmas Story

Thirteen of my favorite things about Christmas

Santa still comes to our house

January: A full month of fun and prizes

I hope your last minute preparations are going smoothly!


A Stocking That Fits

We use two sets of stockings at my house – the stocking for show and the stocking that Santa fills.

See the pretty needlepoint stocking? I bought that, and three other pretty stockings like that, from Lands End years ago. Those are the stockings we hang on the fireplace mantle every year.

And for years, Santa tried to stuff those stockings. Only, they aren’t very big so a lot of times, the stocking stuffers didn’t fit and had to be placed next to the stockings as opposed to in the stockings.

I had it on very good authority that Santa? Was a tad irritated with our stockings and threatened not to stuff anymore of our stockings unless we did something about it.

Enter the red, felt stocking in the picture. As you can see, they are WAY bigger than the needlepoint stockings and can hold a smorgasbord of odds and ends – Santa was very happy and has been stuffing the toe of those stockings for a few years now. (They magically appear Christmas morning. I had to talk Santa into allowing me to take a picture of this stocking with the promise that I would return it as soon as possible).

He just stuffs the toe of the stocking because to stuff the whole stocking? Would end up costing more than all the other gifts Santa brings us – combined.

I actually got these huge red felt stockings from my mother (Santa just borrows them, you see). My mother is the stocking QUEEN in our family.

In fact, she’s quite famous for her stockings and even though we laugh and joke about how her stockings are the best part of Christmas, we’re actually being serious.

Her stockings ROCK.

For as long as I can remember, my mother has made our stockings special. She would stay up all night and wrap scores of little dollar store gifts to put into our stockings. And after the regular gifts had been unwrapped, we eagerly anticipated burying our heads into our stockings to see what sort of goodies were nestled inside.

As the family grew and me and my siblings got married and had children, the stockings got a bit out of control. Instead of wrapping a few little gifts for three stockings, now my mother wraps about 20 gifts for 12 stockings – each.

And the kicker? They were always different every year. One year they were burlap sacks, another year they were the red felt stockings. And I can’t think of any others off the top of my head, but they were always so cool and very impressive lined up against one wall just waiting for us to tear into.

And the funny thing is? The gifts are all something small and useful – like toothbrushes, calculators, measuring tapes, address books, tire gauges, insurance holders, a can of peanuts … just a variety of things we use everyday but never think to buy.

Yet we LOVE her stockings. There’s something so fun about tearing into all those little gifts and KNOWING we’ll use them at some point in the next year.

And there’s always one more surprise buried among the other gifts, like a gift card, or some money, or a cute coffee mug or just something we’re not expecting.

My husband especially loves the stockings. My mother doesn’t believe me when I tell her this, but honest to God, he really enjoys her stockings. After all, this stuff is right up his alley – things he can, and does, use on a daily basis. In fact, half of the things in our garage are from my mother’s stockings.

Christmas will be a little different this year. Not everyone can make it down so it’s going to be a much smaller group than we’re used to. But one thing I hope stays the same? My mom’s stockings. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with this year.

Thanks for making our Christmases so special, mom!


Stupid or Smart?

This is the article I referred to yesterday. It was originally published on my self-hosted blog, November 30, 2006.

We’re either incredibly smart, or incredibly stupid. I haven’t decided yet.

If you haven’t been keeping up with this blog, let me fill you in: this year’s HOTHOTHOT toy is the Nintendo Wii. At least, it is for our boys and judging by the fact that NO ONE in town seems to have any stock and HAS NO IDEA when they might be getting more, the rest of Springfield thinks so too.

Before I tell you what we’ve gone and done (and I’m betting those out there that know me or have been reading my blog for any length of time can guess), let me explain something. I’m a strict mother. I am a controlling person and when it comes to my boys, I’m rather a dictator, if you want the bald honest truth.

As a result, the boys always look to me before answering someone else’s question or they come to me to ask for simple things, like snacks. On one hand, this is a good thing, I can keep track of them. On the other, it’s not because I’m stifling them as people and I need to loosen up and let them grow up (which I’m getting better at).

I have those kids under my thumb. Or, at least I thought so until recently. I think in reality, they have me wrapped around their little fingers.

My husband and I take GREAT pride in trying to make every Christmas memorable for our boys. And every year, without fail, they hug us and tell us that this year “was the best Christmas ever.” It warms a parent’s heart to hear those words, see their glowing, happy faces and know in our hearts that we are providing them with happy memories.

We have great kids, not perfect, but great. They care what we think about them and they strive to do their best because they want to please us. They rarely give us problems, they have compassion and are kind to others, which seems to be an essential ingredient lacking in our youth today. We rarely buy them anything unless it’s a birthday or Christmas. They don’t receive an allowance because we feel if they want something, they can do some extra chores, or work extra hard to bring a grade up and we’ll “pay” them with the item they want.

Considering they don’t receive material items very often, birthdays and Christmases are a HUGE deal to them. The only thing both of them want this year, is a Nintendo Wii. That’s it. And maybe the Zelda game so they will have something other than the sports games that come with the system to play. The Wii’s are not cheap. In fact, if Santa brings them a Wii for Christmas, it will easily be the most expensive gift Santa has ever brought. (Until Christmas 2007 when Santa brought an XBox).

We sat and down and talked to the boys. Santa is not made of money. IF (and we’re talking a big IF because every other gamer child wants one too and no one has them in stock) Santa brings them a Wii, they can’t expect many more presents on top of that.

They don’t care. All they want is the Wii. Oh sure, they’ve put more things on their wish lists, but the bottom line? Screw everything else, they want a Wii.

What’s a parent to do? Every parent out there knows it’s part of our parental makeup to want to please our children. What parent wants to experience that look of disappointment Christmas morning when they didn’t receive the ONE gift they wanted more than anything else? My husband STILL talks about the Christmas he wanted something, more than anything, and didn’t get it. I wouldn’t say it warped him, but it certainly left an impression.

So what did we do, you ask. We bought a Wii on EBay. Yep, we paid a little more than retail for it. Yep, we caved in to our children’s wishes. Yep, they will have another one of the “best Christmases ever.”

We debated back and forth, back and forth, about the logic behind buying on EBay. First, there’s the trust issue. We examined each dealer carefully making sure they had good feedback (we won’t accept anything under 98% positive). We kept on eye on the price. We bid and held our breaths. We had an absolute ball doing it together. We lost one bid by one penny. That’s an experience we’ll talk about for the rest of our lives. We won our bid by one dollar and one penny. We can rest easy (and breathe easy when we actually receive it).

Here’s our rationale for going this route. Is it worth our time to call every retail store in town, every day, sometimes twice a day, to see if anyone has a system? Are we willing to gamble on the fact that IF we find some we’ll be able to drive over there in time to get one? Is it worth our time to stand in line for 12 hours? Is it worth the stress of going through all of this?

No, we decided. It was not worth it to us. We would rather spend the extra money than go through all of that. I realize some of you may feel differently, and that’s fine, but to us, it was worth it. We’re also looking at it as, we’re paying this person for the time he had to spend to get the system (because he claims he DID stand in line 12 hours. His time is worth something, right?)

So, there you have it. We caved. We surrendered. But we can now breathe easier because this means the kids’ Christmas has been taken care of.

We also learned something else by this experience: the couple who EBay together, stay together. 😀

Christmas song #23 It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas by Harry Connick Jr.