Christmas has come and gone. The boys are incredibly happy and we are all thoroughly exhausted!
Every year Kirby and I wait too long to shop and wrap ALL the presents on Christmas Eve. This leads to an incredibly stressful two weeks leading up to Christmas. I have to say, however, this year we did pretty well.
I had started shopping over the past few weeks and had a good amount of it done. Saturday we went out after we put the kids to bed and finished everything. Even our usual Christmas Eve wrapping was finished up by midnight (pretty much free of any arguing, amazingly enough).
I will update more on the "real" Christmas later...this blog is devoted to our Christmas at Dad's house.
The Friday before Christmas we got together with my family at my father's house. This is one of my favorite times. We have dinner before hand and then head off for presents.
My father and his wife do not go crazy overboard with the gifts for anyone (thankfully), and they are all very thoughtful gifts (Sue even made me an ornament out of Scrabble pieces - many of you know about my addiction to online Scrabble). We also exchange names of all the siblings and nephews so we aren't all "stuck" with buying a million things and there is a limit of $25. Typically, we all chip in for a large gift for Sue and Dad.
This year my family had one of the hardest lists. We had both my brothers (who are both, typically, VERY hard to shop for) both their significant others and my nephew (the only easy one on the list). However, it all turned out beautifully.
Loren, my youngest brother (18) requested a book that was easy enough to order on Amazon; Christian, my nephew (6) requested a book and a movie (again, ordered on Amazon); Emily (Loren's girlfriend) requested an ITunes GC (again, how easy) and Andrea (Alex's fiancee) sent me a list of ideas. The only pain was Alex my other brother (27) who, when I threatened him if he didn't send me ideas, said that a concrete slab of the boy's hand-prints would be a "wonderful gift, Erica" - in the MOST sarcastic way (you have to know Alex to completely understand this).
Zachary had Andrea. He was SO incredibly sweet! He made up a list of about 10 different things and he really took into consideration what she would like. At one point while making the list, Kirby found him curled up in a ball on the living room floor. He asked him what he was doing and Zachary replied, "I am trying to figure out how to get Uncle Alex in a box because I think that is what Auntie Andrea would really like for Christmas"! So, we found a HUGE "Santa Bag" and stuffed Alex in it (amongst the few other things Zach got her). It was priceless! He really did put a lot of thought into her gifts.
Tom had Alex. After Alex's comment about the boys hand-prints being such a great idea, we decided that is exactly what he would get. I mixed up a big batch of salt dough, Tom imprinted his hand and that is what he got (along with a GC to Circuit City). He loved it - he thought it was the funniest thing. You have to remember that Tom is 17...his hand-print is bigger than Kirby's now...not so cute anymore :)
The boys got some great, very well thought out, gifts. Andrew got a bouncing Tigger (honestly, he looks like he is having an epileptic seizure, but he loves him all the same) and a few other things. Zachary got a Harry Potter Lego set and a remote control robot (both of which he absolutely loves).
Dad and Sue always fill a big reusable Tupperware container for Kirby and I. We love the container because we use it for putting away Christmas decorations every year. As our collection grows we lose space for all of it. The container may be one of the coolest parts of the gift :). We each get a few gift cards, some books, etc. Again, very well, thought out gifts.
Monica (my eldest sister) and her family got me and they gave me a number of CDs and a book off my Amazon list - these are things I would never buy for myself. So awesome! Her family also had Andrew and got him an outfit and a couple wooden toys that help with fine motor skills (score!!). She had Kirby and bought him an Ebay GC (his request). AND they had Tom and got him an MP3 player (and loaded a bunch of songs). He was SO psyched! Monica and Steve also put a ton of thought into their gifts. They are also HUGE bargain shoppers so they tend to get you a really cool gift without going over budget.
Loren got Zachary and bought him a really cool Hot Wheels stunt set. He loves it!
Dad and Sue are birders. Did you know that the word "bird" can be a verb? They go out looking for birds, listening for birds, identifying rare species and even participate in "bird counts" this time of year. They have a great time at it.
So this year, they asked for an extravagant birding package that included an IPod Nano and bird sounds...I'm not exactly sure what it was, just know that it is what they wanted (MY father with an IPod seems incredibly strange). Anyway, the gift was well out of our price range, so Dad asked us to contribute towards it and after Christmas they would go out and pay for the rest as a gift to each other.
Once again, Monica and Steve stepped up to the plate. They were able to find each of the items in this package sold separately AND within our price range! It was SO awesome! We each spent our limit and got them exactly what they wanted. I was so excited!
But the best part of the night wasn't really the gifts. While it is wonderful to get gifts that people really think about (rather than gifts that people give just because they think it is necessary to get you one) - the best part of the night was after the gifts.
We all spent until well after 10pm there hanging out, eating and spending time together. The boys were incredibly well behaved (aside from Andrew and Thanny - my 2 year old nephew - who get a rise out of each other by fighting over a toy and screaming "mine", "no, mine" back and forth at each other - cute nonetheless) and we had a wonderful time.
It is nights like this that help me remember that the stress of the holidays is all worth it. I love my family and they are the most important things to me, especially this time of year.
I apologize for the lack of pictures...I forgot my camera and Monica hasn't emailed me any yet.
Alas...it is well after midnight and we have a busy day tomorrow. I will continue on our holiday gatherings tomorrow...