It's good to be the grown-up in the house, cause you get to make the rules. (Some of my readers might want to debate the fact that I count as a grown-up. However, by the above definition, I am indeed a grown-up, cause I get to make the rules. Whether the rules that I make represent mature decisions is an entirely different debate.)
We had planned to open our family Christmas presents this morning. We aren't in town on Christmas itself, so we have always had a separate day for a family gift exchange, several days in advance of leaving for Canton so that children had a few days to enjoy and play with their new gifts at home.
The kids have been counting down to this Saturday morning gift exchange for a couple of weeks now. On Wednesday, the Jedi decided Saturday was too far away. Grown-ups make the rules, right? Without telling the children, we decided to bump up the gift exchange to Friday evening and surprise the kids with opening presents a day early.
Let me step back a few days and ramble about all the Christmas preparations that we have been engaged in. First, it was my year to chose how to decorate the tree. (In our family, we take turns chossing the tree decorations each year. The person whose turn it is has complete autonomy and authority in deciding what goes on the tree and how it goes on.) I decided we would have a Jesse tree this year. We've had a Jesse tree before, when it was the Jedi's turn to choose the tree decorations. Our co-op did a Jesse tree ornament exchange last year. Each family picked one day, one ornament, and made enough of that one ornament to give to every other family at the exchange. Each family went home with 24 different homemade ornaments. So, we participated in the Jesse tree ornament exchange this year. There weren't as many participants this year, so each family made two ornaments. We made a whale (from Jonah) and a embroidered heart to represent Ruth's devotion to Naomi.
Twenty-four homemade Jesse tree ornaments, plus a few extra to give to grandparents, was the first extra Christmas project. Additionally, in co-op the sixth grade science teacher had to step out of co-op, and I temporarily took over her class in addition to the 6th grade comp class. And of course, for the last day of co-op, cookies and rice krispie treats needed to be made and goodie bags assembled for the sixth and first grades.
Despite my multiple proclamations that I was NOT doing my usual mass holiday baking, I caved on Wednesday and started baking cookies and treats to go to the adult Tae Kwon Do class and to neighbors. After a baking disaster which had me contemplated throwing away my cookie sheets and buying new ones rather than trying to chisel the ruined mess off of them, I got 10 containers of assorted baked goods ready to go to class with the Jedi Thursday. I still have a batch of snickerdoodles to make today to finish off the containers for neighbors.
While I was baking on Wednesday afternoon, Sweetling put together a cinnamon crumb cake to take to the white elephant exchange at youth group. It was a hot commodity. She was rightly pleased with her efforts and results. The cake went through many hands, despite the ruling that gifts could only be stolen once.
The Saturday before that --last Saturday, time travel with me-- had been the junior high girls' party at Telephone's house. We had a white elephant exchange there as well, where toe socks were present in abundance. The girls also made snowman sugar cookies...which quickly became making sugar cookie representations of the Seasame Street characters.
Because the socks were so popular, Telephone and I went shopping together during the week, after we had spent the morning at church working on one of the dances for the Christmas program. We purchased little gifts to give to each of our junior high girls. The first thing we bought was cool toe socks. Then I found little charm bracelets and earing for my bags and Telephone found lip gloss for her bags and both sets of bags were finished off with candy.
So, Christmas parties, cookies, homemade ornaments, and extra dance practices weren't enough on our holiday plate. I also wanted to do something in place of Christmas cards. So, the kids, Mom, and I made around 90 small Ojo de Dios. We still need to finish coloring the little gift envelopes for each of them so they can all go to church with us tomorrow morning.
Thursday (we're almost back to the proper space-time continuum, hang in there), Thursday we went to Tia Missy's house for a gift exchange. Sweetling got the new Mario Brothers Wii and Toa of Boy got a lego set which builds a oriental dragon, a european red dragon, or a large ogre warrior. He has been busy putting it together since Thursday.
Friday, (see, told you, we are so back on track now), we spent most of the day at church sorting, organizing, and packiing up loads of food for our food pantry to give away. The kids were an amazing help and I am ever so proud of their efforts. We worked from 10 in the morning through lunch till 2 in the afternoon. To reward everyone's efforts, the Jedi got us some Panda Garden for a late lunch, early dinner.
Which brings us all the way back around to the family gift exchange. Let me say that the kids have been counting down the days till present time....but they were JUST AS EXCITED to have others open the presents they bought with their own money as they were to receive presents themselves. As often as they mentioned how many days it was till present time, they also would say things like "You're going to love my present Mommy!" and "I can't wait till (insert name here) opens my present!" So, I'm also very proud of them for being eagr to give gifts, carefully purchased out of their own allowance, for others. (And, in addition to gifts for the family which they bought on their own, they also each bought gifts for our giving tree at church).
So, Friday evening we read the Jesse tree scriptures and put the Jesse tree ornament up, and then the Jedi made the announncement that we would be opening gifts one day early. This news was eagerly received by two children. Mama had told us about an old German custom called "hide the pickle." On Christmas Eve, after children had gone to bed, a green, wooden pickle ornament was hidden on the tree or among the presents. The first person to find the pickle on Christmas morning got to open the first present. We didn't have a pickle ornament, but I had hidden one of our Ojo de Dios ornaments on the tree. Toa found it first, so he got to open the first present.
His first present turned out to be a remote control plane and a remote control helicopter that Mama got for him. The helicopter claims it can be flown indoors. Joy. He also got a couple of DS games, a DS case, a puffle, a loud talking mouse, a Very Monkey Christmsas movie, art supplies, and from Sweetling...a Mario t-shirt and a new bionicle.
Sweetling received a fashion design clothing decorator, a couple ds games, a ds case, a set of hammer bro bling to decorate her ds with, a set of chipmunk jammies, Wii speak, and from Toa she got Merry Madagaskar jammies and Kowalski slipper socks.
Now, for my presents, cause that's what Christmas is all about. Well, that and foot tall lego ogre warriors. I got my netbook from the Jedi the night before the last co-op, so I could take it to co-op with me. My present to the Jedi was to get my hair straightened. Both presents were much appreciated. (The Jedi also appreciated the sweater dress which I received from Smurf.) From Mama I got two more decorated birdhouses to hang in my kitchen and a blokus game, which I've been itching to play again ever since the women's retreat. From Toa, I got a Webkinz guinea pig, which shall be named Giggles. And from Sweetling I got a webkinz reindeer charm AND a fleece penguin blanket which she MADE for me. She bought the fleece with her own money, she brought it home, she measured it and cut it and tied all the tassels and made me this awesome penguin blanket.
Really, this whole long rambling post's sole purpose was for me to say, my Sweetling made me an awesome penguin blanket.