We have an advent calendar that’s a sort of wooden box with twenty-five little doors that open to reveal whatever I’ve tucked inside. There’s not much room in there, it’s meant for small trinkets and candy. Finding twenty-five days’ worth of surprises for two kids gets challenging, though, so I resort to whatever’s inexpensive and relatively door-sized. The other day I was cramming two stuffed animals in there, a tiny jaguar and a tiger. Their heads poked out, their paws dangled. It was just too much.

It all feels like a little too much sometimes, this time of year. On top of everything else, there’s the pressure of teaching your kids about the True Meaning of Christmas, however that’s defined in your family, and in that I often feel like a complete failure. The seamy underside of the most wonderful time of year: rampant greed, bickering, and a lack of perspective.

We had to devise rules for the advent box: they take turns opening the calendar and choosing which of the two surprises they want. Otherwise they fought and fought and fought about the goddamned thing, every morning, until I fantasized about taking the entire box and smashing it into kindling right in front of them. I could practically taste the brief savage joy of it: swooping it off the shelf, dashing it against a hard surface over and over again while their mouths widened into perfect horrified circles. “This! Is! What! Happens!” I’d shout nonsensically, each word punctuated by another splintering crash.

I didn’t do that, of course. We came up with a solution that allows them to have their early-morning routine — run straight to the calendar, then go looking for the elf — without succumbing to a meltdown, but sometimes I watch them grab whatever it is I’ve taken the time and effort to purchase and stash in there and I can see how they cease to give a shit about it with, oh, ten or twenty seconds. It’s just … taken for granted, and okay, I don’t expect my eight and five-year-old children to stand starry-eyed in front of a couple of foil-wrapped chocolate coins and marvel about the magic of the holidays, but damn.

They obsesses over their wish lists and neither one seems to fully understand that it’s not a to-do list that will end up with every item neatly checked come December 25th. The one truly generous thing my second-grader did this season was help pick out toys to donate (an activity that made the five-year-old cry, because he couldn’t understand why they weren’t for him), but then he wanted to write a letter to Santa about his incredibly selfless act just so Santa was, like, aware, and come on dude, I’m on to you.

There’s so much to love about experiencing Christmas with children, but it isn’t always picture-perfect, is it? Maybe that’s what’s so hard about the less ideal moments, I feel like everything should be soft focus and delighted smiles and sparkly red-nosed unicorns and beautifully-decorated treats — and sometimes it’s more of a tangled web of uncertain lessons and parental self-doubt and sugar cookies made from a mix and bitch-slapped with a tub of high-fructose corn syrup.

Comments

62 Responses to “And everyone telling you be of good cheer”

  1. g~ on December 18th, 2013 3:16 pm

    I try to tell myself that it’s less about my failure to get them to understand and also less about not being able to because they’re pathetic, spoiled little fuckers and more about frontal lobe development but I’m not sure I’ve convinced myself.

  2. Michaela on December 18th, 2013 3:25 pm

    “sugar cookies made from a mix and bitch-slapped with a tub of high-fructose corn syrup.”

    THIS. just. this. yes.

  3. Bruja on December 18th, 2013 3:34 pm

    I feel the same way about Christmas with adults. I am called a Scrooge because I don’t want to swap gift cards with people or buy dozens of “Look! I got you a gift!” gifts for every. single. person. I. know. My warm-fuzzy-helping-people episode this year was marred by an ugly display of behavior from the recipients. BAH! Humbug!

  4. Katharine on December 18th, 2013 3:38 pm

    Yeah, I’m just kind of not doing the holidays this year, including gift-giving. I keep hoping that no one will notice.

  5. Judy on December 18th, 2013 3:46 pm

    I used to feel like this about work gifts. The Secret Santa thing was kind of fun, although I usually stuck to the “$25 limit” and then watched, feeling like Scrooge, as everyone else gave elaborate gifts. But the boss gifts, I hated! I was expected to give a gift to each of the two lawyers I worked for, something in the $50 range…while they, with salaries easily ten times mine, went together and gave me a gift, $50 range. I know we’re not supposed to look at money, but I just wanted sometimes to throw up my hands and say “Can’t we just skip this?”

    I think we try to cram too many traditions into our celebrations now. I didn’t even realize you could get advent calendars that you put gifts into – I thought they were just little pictures you looked at. What a PITA that must be! And the elf on the shelf thing – cute, but thank God it was not a part of the celebration when my kids were small, it would have driven me over the edge. We just seem driven to cram as much fun and joy into the holiday as we can, not leaving enough time for the candlelight on snow and misty visions of reindeer pulling sleighs. We’re working on it too hard. And I can’t even think of a way that we can scale it back.

  6. Shana on December 18th, 2013 4:02 pm

    We had to get the boys (3 of them 3 years apart) to take turns on the advent calendar. It was hard for the youngest the first 2 weeks, but after that he understood he WOULD get a turn. And we only had one thing per day in there, so whoever opened it got the gift.

    One thing we did this year is explain that we don’t have much money to spend so we hope they will be understanding that we can’t get them much like years before. The whole entitled thing gets to me. They have been so good this year! And they buy each other gifts, which means we have to take them out separately to do so. At age 10, my kids will use their own money to buy gifts, but for now, we spot them the money.

    My oldest son (age 22) is Mister Entitled, and he has never given me a gift, but he expects gifts. Granted, he is very physically disabled, but he is verbal and means to make it happen, but he doesn’t. I do not want my younger kids to think that way.

  7. sooboo on December 18th, 2013 4:02 pm

    I usually overspend on gifts that are often received with a “meh” attitude. I’ve gotten to the point where I do as much or as little as I want to do and try not have any expectations or guilt.

  8. Felicia on December 18th, 2013 4:02 pm

    We have one of those Advent calendars too, with the small doors. I have learned to put some notes in there instead of doing all candy/presents (like “let’s bake cookies today” or “let’s drive around and look at Christmas lights tonight”). The notes change things up a bit and they’re easy to fit – and bonus points because we were already going to do those activities anyway. Also with three kids we had to figure out three different daily activities, so when they race down in the mornings, they each have something to do. I kid you not, I made an actual schedule (written out and everything) of who does what each day, because without it, I was losing my ever loving mind over the bickering. (For our three things, we do the Advent calendar with the doors, an Advent calendar where you put a little felt ornament on a tree each day, and we wrap 24 Christmas/winter themed books that we already own so they get to unwrap one each day. At some point we may swap one of those out for an elf, but then I have to remember to move the elf each night so that’s not too likely. Ha!)

  9. Tammy on December 18th, 2013 4:15 pm

    I hear you on the advent calendar gifts. Trying to stay away from candy is almost impossible, it seems. A few years back we wised up and started buying the gifts from the quarter machines at the local pizza joint. They are small *and* cheap.

  10. Kyla on December 18th, 2013 4:30 pm

    I’m with Felicia – seriously, the empty Advent has become my FAVORITE part because we fill it with activities, not toys or chocolates. They can be very simple – “make Ginger Krinkle Cookies” or “go out and buy our yearly Christmas Ornament” or “Get our picture with Santa” and even our Christmas Card making falls under this advent deal-io. The reason I love it is it frames the day with one simple, usually achievable Christmassy task and I know all those special little things will happen, I just don’t have to plan them – the Advent plans them for me and we roll with it. I swear, it does bring some of the magic into Christmas.
    But I hear you on the gifting stuff, such a pain even if you SWEAR you won’t do it. I opted out of Office Secret Santa this year and it was a huge relief and I usually love Secret Santa.

  11. Pictou on December 18th, 2013 4:33 pm

    I decided the skip the whole Elf thing. My daughter was a bit older before that kitsch appeared and now she’s avoided it with her daughter. The advent calendar was purchased by other grandma and has little chocolates and bible verse for each day.

    As for me, I haven’t even started with the decorations. Being a grandparent with kids an hour away means I can can have a minimalist Christmas.

  12. Erin on December 18th, 2013 4:35 pm

    My friends and I have taken to singing, “It’s the MOST wonderFUL time of the YEAR” every time we see each other because, DUDE. December is tough on moms. My kiddos are a little older (7 and 10), but I had to revise our advent calendar rules this year. Ours has pockets. I use the current day pocket for one kid, and the next day for the other, so no shoving two whatevers into one. I told them that I wasn’t feeling the advent love, so if they wanted it to continue, they had to sincerely thank me and say one good thing about what they received. And that if they whined about it, they would not get something the following day. Man, am I hard ass, or what? But here’s the thing: I am so tired of going through this season and pouring my heart into it and getting completely trampled by everyone else’s demands. And feeling like no one is looking out for me. So this year I decided to ask for what I need. It isn’t perfect, but it is better. Keep fighting the good fight!

  13. Maud on December 18th, 2013 4:43 pm

    Making me feel better about not having an advent calendar.

  14. nonsoccermom on December 18th, 2013 5:14 pm

    It’s all just too much anymore. Too much gift-giving, too much entitlement, too many expectations. We’re traveling by air this year so kept reminding the grandparents that we can’t deal with any big gifts but that just means they’ll shower my kids (6 and 11) with a ton of little things instead. And we don’t need ANY of it. I’m totally overwhelmed by all the STUFF these days. TOO MUCH STUFF. Not to mention I totally feel like I’m failing at setting reasonable expectations, because clearly my 6yo thinks that Santa will definitely bring whatever is on her list. GAH.

    Wow, that was rambly but I think I’m just glad it isn’t an isolated phenomenon…

  15. Lori on December 18th, 2013 5:25 pm

    Why are you guys doing Advent calendars at all? Why would a non-Christian family celebrate Advent?

  16. Linda on December 18th, 2013 5:28 pm

    Because being a godless heathen means I can do whatever I want?

  17. Charlene on December 18th, 2013 5:41 pm

    I understand the frustration you speak of. My son jus keeps rattling on about what games he needs. Last night on our charitable run I told him no game talk. It was the most peaceful evening I have had in weeks.

    The balance is hard right. Advent ha ha we are catholic and refuse to do it.

    may the rest of your holiday season go quickly.

  18. Brooke on December 18th, 2013 5:52 pm

    That feeling overcame me last year. This year, we are leaving the giving of Stuff to others (grandparents and the like). My son is getting a trip to Disneyland with a friend, my stepdaughter is getting to see her favorite band in concert. the other two don’t know yet, but at any rate, they are getting experiences with us. Things that can’t be broken or outgrown or lost.

    We also have an advent calendar like yours, and I used to have such a hard time finding little things for it. In 2005, I bought 24 little Hallmark ornaments (the teeny ones) and an ugly tabletop tree. My son and daughter love to hang the ornaments each day (The Love Bug, Cinderella, the Millennium Falcon, elves, eta.)

    What I wanted to do this year was do some volunteering, but stuff gets so crazy that we just didn’t swing it. We did do Toys for Tots and I was delighted that all the kids (aged 5-16) really worked to choose something they thought was cool. Warmed my cold little heart.

    Christmas with kids is hard, especially with friends and TV and all that reinforcing the commercial aspects. Best wishes on imparting the True Meaning of Christmas. I feel ya.

  19. NancyB on December 18th, 2013 5:57 pm

    Never did the advent calendar (and I AM from a christian family LOL)and thankfully Elf on the Shelf came after my son grew up.
    Gift giving – we have a big family party every year at my house ranging from 20 to 30 people. I do alot of the food, all the drinks etc, others bring dishes. Some years I think “this is your gift bitches!” other times I’ll keep a list going and pick up little gifts and I always manage to make a few neck warmers or face cloths with $10 and a coupon yarn from Michaels.

  20. Lori on December 18th, 2013 6:03 pm

    As part of getting into the Christmas spirit, my husband decided to ban video/computer games for December. At first I was terrified. Seemed more like a punishment for me, but it has been surprisingly nice and has made dealing with Christmas greed a little easier. I think I mentioned this before, but right after thanksgiving the big kids and I had this chat about their favorite parts of the Christmas season. I was really surprised about what they liked best, after the presents, of course. Their answers made me toss some of the things I thought were important and focus on what they liked. It has helped, especially since creating Christmas spirit is my job in the family. Our advent calendar is a Christmas tradition, not a Christian thing. One year we did do an advent wreath, which is Christian, of course. Other than the incorporation of fire since we had to light a candle, the kids were NOT excited. And, the kids have the elf at school, so I don’t do it at home – that’s the excuse I give for my laziness anyway.

  21. M. Bailey on December 18th, 2013 6:40 pm

    For a few years now, we do the Lego Advent calendar. A huge hit with two boys. This year, they are sharing one – at their request. It is actually going very well. I highly recommend it. Because Lego is always fun to use after the big “holiday season”. Merry Christmas!!!

  22. Chris on December 18th, 2013 6:59 pm

    I also highly recommended the paper notes with an activity. And maybe a couple of those activities should be finding a way to help some kids that won’t have that great a Christmas, like the toy donation and making cards for sick kids in the hospital, etc.

    Also, seriously someone thinks you shouldn’t have an Advent calendar bc you’re not Christian?! WTH.

  23. twinmamateb on December 18th, 2013 8:01 pm

    Thank you for your answer on why you do the advent. For some reason this year I am being bombarded with the “You are a heathen, why on earth do you celebrate Christmas?” Um, b/c I am American and am free to do whatever the eff I want for this national day off?

  24. Lola on December 18th, 2013 8:16 pm

    I feel dumb because I just thought advent was a Christmas thing, nothing to do with religion. But anyway, what I really wanted to say is thank you so much for your honesty with the kid drama…it feels nice to be like yes! I love them! Yes, I also want to strangle them! What I hate the most is when I’m really stressed and putting up with relatives and last minute shopping, and greedy kids, I will always here the song…” It’s the most wonderful time if the year…” And it always pisses me off. Lol. Bah humbug!

  25. Dawn on December 18th, 2013 10:56 pm

    We also did a DIY Lego calendar for our girls (2 & 5). We got big(ish) sets, put them together, divided them into 25 pieces and took them apart. The girls don’t have a ton of Lego yet, and they are loving them.

    Also, we do the advent at night, so that we have something to hold over the girls’ heads ALL DAY. “Stop whatever ridiculous thing you’re doing, or you’ll lose your Lego!”

    I’m trying to remind myself that not getting everything on their list is actually GOOD for them, that kids who grow up without everything they want tend to be better adults. When the girls get a bit older, I’d like to make a habit of volunteering at our local warming shelter with the girls, so they get an idea of what a rough life actually is. But for now, I try to follow this tip: 4 gifts – something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. And keep repeating to mysef, Keep it simple, stupid.

  26. sandy on December 19th, 2013 3:48 am

    This was so effing funny to me!! Thanks for spreading some demented Christmas joy. I loved it and could so relate!!!

  27. Barbara on December 19th, 2013 3:52 am

    When you tell it like it is you nail it every fucking time.

    Bravo, and Merry Christmas!

  28. andrea on December 19th, 2013 4:12 am

    It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only person overwhelmed by Christmas. I’m a teacher and have two boys ages almost 5 and almost 7 and just when I think I have the fall under control- smack- it’s Christmas time.

  29. yogamomma on December 19th, 2013 5:27 am

    “sugar cookies made from a mix and bitch-slapped with a tub of high-fructose corn syrup.”

    TDF – too damn funny. I totally get it!!

  30. el-e-e on December 19th, 2013 5:57 am

    There’s definitely an overarching, stupid pressure to make soft-focus moments. I’m glad for The Polar Express being on TV — it fills the need for so much Christmas tenderness and I don’t even have to do anything!

    ;) I’m kidding, sort-of.

  31. Kim on December 19th, 2013 6:13 am

    I’m a Jew with no kids and put up lights & a Nativity scene every year; I could blame societal pressure, but no, I just like it. As for the gift pressure – I’m about to crack with the stress of it all and I don’t understand why. Maybe it all comes back around to Jew-guilt? Eh, I’ll blame my parents; that’s what my therapist would want.

  32. anon on December 19th, 2013 6:21 am

    The image of you smashing the advent box into kindling is some of my favorite blog reading this Christmas. Bravo!

    The good cheer stuff will show up eventually I am sure.

  33. Christine on December 19th, 2013 6:29 am

    We don’t do the Elf on the Shelf or the advent box but I have to say, that image of you smashing it over and over is something I could easily see myself doing LOL! It DOES become too much and with all the school demands I have to step back and do just the bare minimum for the holidays or it’s not enjoyable at all for me and I don’t want it to be that way.

  34. Cheryl on December 19th, 2013 7:15 am

    We get major cases of the greedies around here too, and it’s my oldest son’s first year of CCD, so I took advantage of that and the “Nestor the Christmas Donkey” special to help him understand why we celebrate Christmas to begin with. Another helpful activity we started doing last year is filling gift boxes for soldiers that are overseas. Our Cub Scout pack takes part every year with the local VFW, the boys make Christmas cards, then we all help pack the boxes with all kinds of Christmas goodies in the hopes that we are able to help make their season at least a little cheerful, since they aren’t able to spend it with their families. I also use portablenorthpole.com every year. This year, they allowed parents to select whether their kid was nice, naughty/nice or just plain naughty! You can bet your butt that in the video Santa sent to my oldest Santa told him he’s straddling the Naughty/Nice line and that he’d better get cracking in order to get on the nice list before Christmas.

    We’re completely lacking in shining, soft-focus moments this year, and to be honest, I’m trying really damned hard to accept it. Our tree only has ornaments on the top 18″ because even though he ignored it last year, this year our almost-three-year-old has decided that he needs to crush all our ornaments to dust in his little fists. My husband has been working crazy-ass hours in an effort to get a hefty raise he’s long-overdue for, we’re dealing with developmental evaluations for both our boys, and the professor in my new class is a sadistic bitch.

    I keep telling myself that we’ll make up for our current lack of shiny happiness on future Christmases. I just hope that our little one soon outgrows the “must rearrange/destroy EVERYTHING” phase.

  35. Mary Clare on December 19th, 2013 7:48 am

    Less is more at the holidays, says me. Too much pressure to do it all makes us insane and unhappy. I try to simplify giving with the adults in our family by having a gift exchange – get one gift and give one gift. (Of course, the kids still get loads of presents.)

  36. katie on December 19th, 2013 7:53 am

    “…sometimes it’s more of a tangled web of uncertain lessons and parental self-doubt and sugar cookies made from a mix and bitch-slapped with a tub of high-fructose corn syrup.”

    Your best quote EVAHHHHHHH….

    I want to have this artfully painted on some old wood and hung in my house.

  37. Jen on December 19th, 2013 8:02 am

    We have one of those wooded advent calendars also, but ours sounds smaller – you can just fit in a couple chocolate coins / Hershey kisses etc. I just bought a few different options (chocolate coins, Kisses, Gummy feet, licorice pinwheels etc.) and each day I put in two of the EXACT same thing – I mean, they even have to be the same color lol. This avoids any fighting over things for the most part, except for when the 7 year old gets there first and pulls them both out, then the 2 year old freaks out because SHE WANTS TO DO IT HERSEEEEEEELF!!!!! I feel ya’.

  38. Maggie on December 19th, 2013 8:02 am

    I am right there with you. I do the advent calendar too and it is painstaking to find enough crap that will fit in that damn thing each year and is not a piece of junk that will land in the trash. There is a LOT of candy. Also, my kids are 12 and 8 and it just isn’t as magical and special as it used to be, which makes me incredibly sad.

    If it helps, I am also a godless heathen who loves Christmas and does the advent calendar too!

  39. Maggie on December 19th, 2013 8:05 am

    Also, my F%&#ing dog got a hold of our elf and demolished his head!! My 8 year old was hysterical! We bandaged him up and brought him back today, not sure if I should buy another one or not since she is really on the cusp of not believing.

  40. Angella on December 19th, 2013 8:20 am

    Well, you’re my favorite godless heathen, if that helps.

    *The Pastor’s wife rolls her eyes at Lori*

    We’ve scaled WAY back in the past couple of years. For advent, I bought a chalk board calendar and filled a bowl with chocolates (Kisses, etc.) and the kids get one a day.

    For Christmas, we bought the kids snow gear (under armor, a layer of fleece, snow shoes), and we’re giving them one big present, plus a stocking.

    Merry Christmas, friend. xoxo

  41. Melissa on December 19th, 2013 9:09 am

    I told my girls (11 and 6) that the Elf WATCHES you and reports back to Santa if you’re mean to your sister. They decided to pass on getting an elf. Also I would have refused. I can’t even be the tooth fairy right, no way I’m buying something else I can repeatedly screw up. We have a little Avon Christmas tree with a snowman that the girls put an ornament on each day to count down Christmas, no prices or toys, just the count down. So far they haven’t mentioned other kids’ calendars or anything so…yay.

  42. Jane on December 19th, 2013 9:41 am

    My 12-year-old counted her presents the other day and said, “I ONLY have EIGHT???” And I said, “Say that one more time and you’ll have seven because I’ll take one and give it to someone who isn’t an ingrate.” And she’s a generally nice girl. bleh

  43. JMH on December 19th, 2013 10:13 am

    Our Advent calendars are the paper kind…each day has a little “door” with a picture or a few words behind it. We recycle them at the end of December. My mom buys them for the kids and there are no gifts involved!

    I am so very thankful my kids missed the whole Elf of the Shelf …no thank you. That seems like a giant hassle.(IMHO)

  44. Anonymous on December 19th, 2013 11:31 am

    Yessss, a thousand times yes. Picture-perfect it ain’t. The pressure this time of year seems a little overwhelming, and it is totally heartening to feel some solidarity after reading your post and all these comments.

    Also. Get it together, Lori. Sheesh.

  45. Maggie on December 19th, 2013 11:36 am

    Jane: HA! I love the way you think!

    Christmas has filled me irritation for years, probably since Oldest was about 2 and was the only grandchild and got so many gifts from visiting relatives that he cried because he was tired of opening presents and just wanted to play with the damned things. So. Much. Crap. that eventually just went in a landfill or was given away. I dislike the sense of entitlement Christmas seems to bring to my kids and the family struggles to see all the relatives for a fair period of time. For several years now I’ve about fantasized about winning the lottery and taking just the kids and H to Christmas island for the entire month of December and skipping everything else! Sigh.

  46. Erin on December 19th, 2013 12:45 pm

    My mother buys the boys an online advent calendar every year. Not only do they not get candy or present, there’s no fighting over opening it. It’s super cute – an alpine village, and each day there’s a little cartoon and then the background changes.

    But I laughed at the breaking of the box, because we used to have a playhouse made out of cardboard, and my eldest used to hide in there from me when I asked him to do something. Finally, i got angry and said, you come out there or I’ll fetch you out, and I’ll have to rip the box open to do it. He didn’t come out, and I ripped the box in half and pulled him out. Cue hysterical screaming. Later, I was able to tape it back together. But never ever did that again, and always came when I asked him.

  47. Alex on December 19th, 2013 1:08 pm

    In the past I did the activity Advent calendar, but the kiddos were maybe too young. The effort/enjoyment ratio was way off so it went by the wayside this year and no one even cares! This year my mom sent them each a $2 Trader Joe’s calendar with chocolate. Holy crap, they love those things!

  48. H on December 19th, 2013 1:32 pm

    After nearly a year of some much needed meds and therapy, I’m in the best emotional place I’ve ever been at Christmas. That doesn’t mean I’m doing more of anything, but I’m feeling good about doing what *I* determine is enough, and letting the rest go. Of course, this is easier for me since my kids are grown. My biggest struggle will be making it through next week without strangling one particular relative of mine. My plan is to smile outwardly while I fantasize!

  49. Em on December 19th, 2013 2:18 pm

    Yes. My 2 year old is still young enough that she doesn’t understand Santa Claus, but she definitely understands presents, and somehow she knows she is getting “lots.” And she is, because she and her brother (who is only 2 months old) are the only grandchildren on both sides of our family. Ugh. I was hoping to minimize her expectations from the beginning, so that she doesn’t learn to expect a ton of gifts, but apparently I have already failed.

    Merry Christmas – hope the next week goes smoothly for you!

  50. Anne on December 19th, 2013 2:38 pm

    Oh, thank you, thank you for the reminder that I am not alone in this craziness! I commented to my husband the other day that this entire season (starting with Halloween, really) makes me feel like I am climbing a ladder, one step at a time, with everything I have to buy and make and bring and give and remember. There is some satisfaction on achieving another rung, but not much joy. It sucks, because I used to really love Christmas time (and I am also a godless heathen, or at least an agnostic one!) I guess what I tell myself is that my mom went through this too, all the work and planning and making and wrapping, and this is why I have good feelings about Christmas, and this is also what I want my kids to grow up with. (And then they’ll grow up with warm feelings about the season and will proceed to drive themselves crazy when THEY have kids and the cycle starts all over again!)

    The one tradition that I really, really love is decorating gingerbread houses with my kids. They’re old enough now (7 and 4) to be somewhat independent with the candies, and it’s great fun to see what they come up with, not to mention eating it all in the end!

  51. LD's Mom on December 19th, 2013 3:30 pm

    Totally know what you mean. BTW, did your kids ever go back to school after the snowstorm but before Xmas break?

  52. Linda on December 19th, 2013 3:41 pm

    LD’s mom: yes, FINALLY. :) They’ve been in school all week, tomorrow’s the last day before the break.

  53. telegirl on December 19th, 2013 7:53 pm

    Just saw this and, of course, thought of you. http://news.msn.com/pop-culture/tooth-fairy-is-walk-in-park-over-elf-on-the-shelf

    OK, I’m off to google Elf on a Shelf and Tumblr/Instagram…

  54. Meagan on December 20th, 2013 12:42 pm

    Get a Lego set with about 25 pieces. 1-2 pieces per door. Instructions/photo in the last door. Surprise!

    We do this (more or less) to fill up the stocking, but I don’t really know whether it would work as well with an advent calendar. Be a hell of a lot easier though.

  55. Kristen on December 20th, 2013 4:04 pm

    My 4 year old daughter asked to go to the mall to see Santa so she could, “put in her order.” :/ So. yeah.

  56. Corey on December 22nd, 2013 7:48 pm

    We’re doing the avent calendar for the first time this year. I got a lego(?) angry birds one so there’s something to do each day, building towards the final piece.

    We also started trying to do a “Christmas Kindness” each day (which doesn’t really happen as much as I’d like, but most days). You could try something similar or put a few in the calendar. Doesn’t have to cost anything or be anything super big. We donated to the food pantry one day, I donated blood one day, we took muffins to the fire station, etc.

  57. Lisa on December 23rd, 2013 5:48 am

    I have just one kidlet, and at 6 and the only grandchild, she doesn’t posses empathic qualities, even though we try to reinforce them. This kid will never give up a used toy, ever (they are given away without her knowledge). However, this year I told her a story that Santa did not have enough elves this year to make all the toys and he was experiencing a toy shortage. He decided to choose some special and very helpful children by writing them a letter which included a large pretty bag. Each chosen child is supposed to fill up the bag with toys they no longer play with and he will pick them up on Christmas Eve when he drops off gifts. My child fell hard for this. She immediately asked if she would be chosen and started thinking of things to put in the bag if she was. A few weeks later, her letter arrived along with the bag, which she filled halfway that evening. She had to be convinced yesterday to fill it all the way, but she did it. I have tried to instill how helpful she is during this process and to let her know how much other kids will enjoy the toys she has chosen. I am sure she is doing this to impress Santa, but maybe she will learn something else, too.

  58. jen on December 23rd, 2013 9:27 am

    I told my oldest the other day I was not talking to him until he stopped talking about the presents. We get him three gifts plus a stocking and one of the three is a book. And he still complains “Why not 4?” OMFG. Head. Desk. Plus he’s learning how to read and he’s a lawyer at heart so he was arguing with me (the one who WRAPPED AND WROTE on the gifts) about how that one gift I said was his “didn’t have his name on it” and I wanted to throttle him so hard. We were in the car so I couldn’t even SHOW HIM HE WAS WRONG. SO WRONG.

    It all drives me crazy. Our families often do a “grab bag” and the last several years I simply stopped participating. I just couldn’t handle any more sets of lotion I hate the smell of or decor that doesn’t work in my house, etc.

  59. MyFrogs on December 23rd, 2013 10:32 am

    My kids are 13 and 14 so a lot of what is on their lists is getting more expensive and bigger. However, it’s what’s not on their lists that they are asking about. Every year they open their new jammies on Christmas eve to wear that night. This year they’ll be at their dads that night, so they’re worried about when they’ll get to open their jammies. I love that! :)

  60. MyFrogs on December 23rd, 2013 10:42 am

    PS- On the jammies thing, I thought that since they’d be at their dads it wouldn’t matter if that didn’t happen. Guess who’s going out to buy jammies today….

  61. Hanna on December 23rd, 2013 4:25 pm

    We have a similar advent truck (given by G-ma, naturally) that vexes me. I shopshopshop for tiny things (most of which end up in the stocking), which are received with a “Meh” as he tosses them aside. Maybe next year, he’ll get little messages from Santa – reminders to be helpful and kind.

  62. Hanna on December 23rd, 2013 4:26 pm

    Yay for godless heathens!

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