Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Santa Does NOT Come Early!

Christmas is over and now we just have to plod through that stretch of dead-air time where we are on "Winter Break" until school starts again. One week. I can live through a week right? I mean in my life I have lived through, like, a really *unspecified number* lot of weeks so surely I can do another one. Right?

Our Christmas went well! The girls opened the gifts from us on Thursday and Santa came on Friday, Christmas Eve. We are slightly unsure as to how he accomplished it but The Husband had taken the girls out to run some errands that afternoon and possibly that is when he came. Alternately while we were eating dinner I thought I heard something outside on the roof. So we don't exactly know. However Teena is sure of one thing and that is that it was all wrong. Genea is the type of child who knows what she knows, and so if she believes in Santa and Santa is magic, then the man can come whenever he wants. Teena is the type of child who wants to know how. She has done her research (watched all the claymation movies), consulted the experts (her kindergarten teacher) and developed her hypothesis. Santa does his thing on Christmas Day and when you wake up he has been there and gone. And, fyi, she better darn tootin' be the most right because she does not take well to being wrong. The Husband and I did our best to come up with answers on the fly to Teena's most logical questions but I am afraid that we pushed our luck a little too far having Santa come early. Regardless, the whole point of doing it that was to avoid the Christmas morning Puke- a- la- Palooza of the previous two years and so by that measure we were successful. No one enjoys a holiday when there is vomit on the gifts. Words to live by.

On the actual day of Christmas we packed up and went to my sisters house in The South of Wisconsin where she has a lovely, large home with long, roomy stretches of track that just beg to be run. Beg, I tell you, those hallways beg for children to run hysterically through. Laughing, shrieking and running like a herd of four happy buffalo.

I had a few irksome moments. Weigh in with opinions if you want. When The Time Came on the big day, to open gifts, we started telling the kids to pass them out. That's the tradition in my extended family. My sister and I were the only kids for like, 28 years straight, and had to pass out gifts that whole time so we have been waiting for someone to be old enough to read and take over the job. Finally, three kids started reading at the same time. So there are gifts to the ceiling in front of the tree and the kids start diving in. Only of the three who could read, they disregarded all names but their own. The fourth knew enough to find his own name and did the same.

Chaos hit the floor and flew through the air. The roar of paper ripping matched by screams and wordless excitement.

And I was irked off.

Before I had time to sit down, the whole thing was over. (I was wearing a new pair of "jeggings" and I have to say, I do not recommend it. Who thought it would be a good idea to make leggings out of super stretchy denim? They are rough and stiff and bunch up miserably in every body part that bends. Incidentally, the things also apparently shrink once they leave the store, making your legs resemble burst sausage casings). Anyway, as I tried to sit down without lacerating myself with my own pants, I also tried uselessly to redirect my children to open their gifts calmly, pass out gifts to other people and to take their time. No go. It was a free for all of manic tearing. My two girls whipped open boxes and shoved and jammed new toys in my face and up my nose all the while shrieking in the strident voice of little girls everywhere, "LOOK MAMA LOOK!", then throwing the thing aside to grab something new.

Now, I remember being a kid. Really! My parents let us blaze through wrapping paper only to glance at the concealed present and move onto the next. I have to admit it was fun. Then, once we saw everything we went back and examined things more closely. We were never a family growing up that opened one gift at a time. But this was nuts. I barely registered what was received let alone who it was from and you can be sure my kids did not notice who things were from! Then there are little pieces and instructions to stuff and it is all flying out of the packaging. A relative quickly scooted around picking up boxes and wrapping paper and miscellaneous trash, and I am serious, within minutes it was all over.

I want my children to be gracious and polite and to always use good manners. Now how the heck I am going to get that to happen in this situation? I want them to open something, look the giver in the eye, say something polite and after it is all done approach the person and say thank you. I guess I felt embarrassed, having to ask people, was this doll from you? Was this shirt from you? So, the discomfort and irksome feelings were definitely about me. No one else seemed to mind and no one else was worried about it. No one else seemed to think my children were rude. So, I leave it go and move on.

In other news, Teena is staying with my parents for a few days while Genea came home with us. I will write a different post about it, but I have to say, this has turned out far differently than I expected. One of my top 5 rules of parenting........ Never ever let yourself think that you know what you are doing.


  1. We were a one-present-at-a-time family. Granted, we don't celebrate Christmas, as we are Jewish. But on Chanukah, with all the cousins, one person would sit next to the gifts and announce "this one's for K!" then she'd pass it over to my sister, who'd say "oh, it's from Auntie A and Uncle R" and then dig into the wrapping paper. Granted, we didn't always wait for her to actually open it before we moved onto the next one, but at least we got that far. So I'm totally with you. One at a time. Have some order.

  2. Hmm...you hit on one of my pet peeves. Having once witnessed a child in my family opening presents and tossing the present over his shoulder only to go on to the next one without uttering a "thank you", I was pretty appalled. This was before I had children. My hubs and I have stuck to a "too much is NOT a good thing" view on Christmas and our kids get three things each from us. Two from us and one from "Santa". Of course they get ONE thing from Gma and Gpa, and one from my brother usually. That is plenty...and we make sure they say thank you. Not getting an overwhelming amount of presents makes them appreciate what they do get. So, I hear you totally. One at a time is definitely a good way to do it.

  3. Congrats on avoiding Puke- a- la- Palooza 2010! It got a little hairy here for a minute as the person handing out gifts started handing them out 2 at a time.

    I can't wait to hear the story of Teena's overnight with the Grands.


  4. Glad you had a good Christmas and avoided the puking. We had that problem the first year our girls were home. The Gmas (there are two as my husband was raised by his grandma and knew his 'birthmother' to be his sister) got the girls a ton of gifts. Literally we watched them toss stuff without looking at it trying to get to the next one. The next year was not as bad, but we now have a open one gift, thank the person, then open another. They are not as bad now as they were before.

    Curious to see how your overnight goes with your daughter and your parents.


  5. For a while, we were an 'open it all at once' type of family. Then the number of cousins grew to 20+ and grandma insists on giving every last one of us a couple of things so the present mound was huge. It took all of the 'older' parents (i.e. my parents generation) to reach a compromise where two people are "santa" and they hand out gifts while everyone else sits in a circle. This is the most time-consuming part and while they hand out gifts everyone is talking (some of the younger ones guessing what the gifts are, others about the birds and bees, etc). Then each opens one at a time. We go from youngest to oldest then back around oldest to youngest. Everyone sees, people get thanked, wrapping paper gets tossed as we go. It's so much calmer this way and all of the youngsters seem much more appreciative of what they got. It think kids get so excited at the idea of opening gifts and not the gifts themselves so taking the time evens out the dopamine high and teaches us all a lesson. Be forewarned, for some reason not everyone is cool with this idea so we tried the democratic process and then had the grandparents dictate what would happen. Kids of any age will always listen to what the grandparents say no matter who's house the event happens in. Once the tradition starts, it's hard to break.

    Grandma still gives the gifts to everyone. But now that the youngest grandchild is 7 (I'm the eldest at 27), we have stopped having everyone give to everyone and we do a white elephant after/before the grandma gifts. We started two years ago and we keep mindful of 'stealing' from the youngest ones. It works wonders to also help keep the gift-induced dopamine high much more even and it's fun.

  6. Thank you for this post!!! I was EXTREMELY irked by my kids and their "open it all at once" display of ungrateful greed this year. I'm glad to hear that a) mine are not the only kids like this but more so, b) that I am not the only one irritated by it.

  7. Ooh...cliff-hanger at the end there. Tell us what happened!!

    We are a one-at-a-time family. Drives me nuts not to see and appreciate each gift. Drives the kids nuts to slow down like that, but I'm the boss. =)

  8. I make my kids open one present from oldest to youngest and I get to go first! It drives them crazy, which is my goal, since they drive me crazy!

  9. "No one enjoys a holiday when there is vomit on the gifts. Words to live by."

    Best Quote EVER! lol! :)

    I'm with you, the out and out shredding of presents with paper and whatnot flying would have done me in. As you know, we have 6 kids and we pass out everyone's presents & then go kid by kid as everyone gets to open 1 present while everyone else watches.. I want to see their expressions when they open each one so they do it my way or they dont get to open LOL!

  10. Uh oh..... I didn't mean to imply that I had a really great story coming up! I just had more of a mild revelation when the girls did the opposite of what I expected.

    Okay, but it should be an interesting post anyway! IMO!

  11. yeah, there is no open it all at once chaos at our house either, it would drive me crazy. Since we had the boys we have never given them the chance to do anything else but one at a time, it helps that we have no family nearby and so there is chance for them to learn anything from anyone else.
    Hope there are a few calm days with only at home.
    PS I have no idea what I am doing either!

  12. Yep. I believe I ranted about ungracious gift-receivers when I talked about birthday parties.

    Granted, it's the two of us, so it's an ideal situation--calm and happy. We open one, play with it, eat, open another, play with that, go do something else...it took two hours to open stockings and three gifts. ;> And, OH the grateful heart of my child!

  13. NOTE: Long comment here turned into small post for self.

  14. on a related note, we didn't buy any presents for our kids this year. They are 17 months old. They don't know. I figure we hvae the rest of their lives for rampant consumerism, I'm taking a break while I can.


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