Since I’m flying back to California on Christmas Day, we celebrated Christmas a couple of days early with my sister and her family. Ashley told the children (ages 5 and 11) that we would open gifts after dinner. At breakfast, Zach, the older one, started the countdown to opening presents. “We’ll eat dinner at 5, and open presents by 5:30. That’s only 8 more hours.”
About 30 minutes later, “Is it time to open presents yet?” “Not yet. Not until after dinner.” “Can we open just one gift now?”
I envisioned this repeating itself every 30 minutes, much like a Christmas version of the movie Groundhog Day, unless something was done.
“Hey! Let’s play a game! Let’s see how many fun things we can do today before it’s time to open presents. Ready? Let’s go!”
And that started our day of fun. Making reindeer out of styrofoam balls, yarn, and wobbly eyes. Riding bicycles in the driveway. Playing hopscotch (much harder to do in high-heeled boots than I remembered). Drawing chalk pictures on the driveway. Watching Toy Story 2. Dressing up as princesses (tiaras hurt if you wear them for too long). Playing dolls. Multiple board games. Eating candy canes (cherry flavored, not peppermint). Nerf basketball. A made-up game where the three of us threw a ball to each other, the object to see how long we could keep it up in the air, before someone yelled “Dance party!” and we all crazy danced to the song on the iPod. With occasional breaks for snacks.
And finally, it was almost dinner time. Almost. Ashley allowed them to open one present each before dinner. Zach chose a large box, which contained a sweatshirt. Hadley chose a small gift bag that contained an advent bag containing 24 small toys. I explained that I should have mailed the bag so that she could have opened one toy a day in the month before Christmas, but since I didn’t, she got to open all 24 at once. She squealed with delight. The 24 toys kept the two of them entertained until dinner was ready.
After dinner came the flurry of wrapping paper and ribbons being ripped off of presents, oohs and aahs, and donning of new bathrobes, slippers, and clothes. Building the gingerbread house, which stood long enough to take a picture before being devoured by little hands. Drawing with new art sets, playing more ball, dancing to new songs downloaded with iTune gift cards. Then, exhausted, but not wanting the day to be done, bed time.