Like the past few years, Christmas was low-key this year as well, with the focus primarily on the kids. They were both enthusiastic about giving this season - just what little was easily accessible to them. Like, the Toy Drive in their school, Wishing Tree items for their respective class rooms, a random act of giving (to a homeless person on the street)... They also willingly set aside old toys and games that they have outgrown, to be donated appropriately.
And, the 6 yo got to make cookies in the classroom and take it over to an Elder Care Facility nearby, and sing carols to the folks living there. The joy he got out of this whole experience is immeasurable.
A few well-chosen crafts and activities filled the days leading up to Christmas with cheer. Neither child is into any of the stale tedious crafts like gluing cotton balls and making paper plate snowmen and suchlike; and it disturbs the 10 year old to make banal crafts. She does look around the recycle pile to pick out cardboard and foam board and such to create things on and off. Like, the diorama she made as a present for me. Hot glue gun is her favorite tool these days.
The kids decked the tree to the gills with just whatever ornaments we've saved all these years. Many of the favorite ornaments are either hand-me-downs from my MIL or things that kids made. I just sat back and curbed my urge to redistribute the ornaments and find some balance.
We baked lemon bars, chocolate-oats-marshmallow rounds, and marshmallow halwa. We have all outgrown the standard cookies like sugar cookies, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, gingerbread and so on.
The kids made a card each for Santa. The younger one didn't need any help with his and I was pleasantly surprised to see his finished card - a card on top of a card - a double-card with collage and writing all his own.
The older child just had a lot of questions for Santa in her card - almost like an in-depth interview. We did set out some lemon bars, oats rounds, marshmallow halwa plus milk for Santa, and of course, carrots for the reindeer.
All of Christmas Eve was high-energy for the kids, but, they were free to do anything they wanted. I had taken the day off, and having done all the preparations for the holiday, I got to do some embroidery for relaxation.
Christmas Eve meal is usually whatever we feel like having, nothing traditional. So, this year, we again voted on a Fondue meal which both kids absolutely love. We had French Onion fondue with veggies and bread; and chocolate fondue with fruit assortment. We shared what each of us is thankful for, what we'd like to do better next year and so on.
Christmas morning started by 4:45-ish for the kids. First thing they did was check for telltale evidence of Santa's visit. Boy, were there many! To start with, Santa left a note answering most of the older child's questions, and adding an appreciative note about the younger one's card; some lemon bars and halwa were gone; carrots were mostly gone, with a few nibbled-on pieces left behind in a hurry as the reindeer dashed off. Of course, the Stocking hung by the fireplace was full, so, Santa definitely stopped by!
Considering the older child barely fell asleep by midnight, it was a shortish night for her, but, I could understand her excitement. I like that she still believes in all this magic. It is easy to get cynical and easy to discard this aura of mystery. But, as long as she wants to, it is her choice to believe.
Kids were thrilled with their modest presents, based on their Wish List, plus a few surprises. I did not expect the kids to be too thrilled about finding books in their Xmas stockings. But they were truly elated to pull out Funny Fill-ins (mad libs), Joke Book, even a pocket Roget's thesaurus, along with some oranges and peppermint rocca and minty Kisses.
All in all, a quiet holiday, at home, no stress, no pressure to be somewhere and do something. All four of us seem to enjoy just hanging out at home rather than intensely socialize.