This Christmas marked a number of firsts for us. It was the first time Mandi and I exchanged gifts with each other. It felt great, albeit strange to spend money "frivolously" on stuff. We had a strict $100 budget.
It was also our first debt-free Christmas. In the past we've paid for gifts with cash, so I'm not talking credit-card debt, but the week before we finished paying off the last of my student loans. Aunt Sallie has officially been kicked out of the spare bedroom, which made this holiday especially memorable.
And of course, it was the first Christmas where Lily really understood what was going on. She'd been dutifully reciting her biggest wish every day leading up . . "I'd better ask Santa for a Rescue Pack." You'd better believe she came tearing around the corner at 6:04 am with one thing on her mind . . "Where's my Rescue Pack?" Actually, it's over there behind the behemoth hundred-dollar toy train set it took Santa over an hour to assemble late the night before which you haven't even noticed yet. No worries . . as long as you're happy.
Avery, as I'm sure you all remember from the iPhone story, took the leap to tech toys this year. Her acquisitions include an MP3 player (pre-loaded with Hannah Montana, of course), an electronic dog that is touch sensitive so it can't be packed in a suitcase, and a working personal ATM machine (complete with card, PIN, and wall-mounting instructions). She also got a learner guitar and some really cute (while not age-inappropriate) new outfits. I think they both were really happy, and at the same time I don't feel like it was an overboard Christmas.
Both girls really surprised and impressed us with their behavior at our various family get-togethers this year. Lily was a little bit out of control at PF Chang's for Maw Maw's birthday celebration, but she's never been particularly good at restaurants in the past, so there was no real high expectation going in to this one. As far as I'm concerned, she didn't knock the table over and nothing was spilled on anyone. That's a victory. Christmas Eve we did our traditional Gift Exchange party at Maw Maw's house. Most of the kids are old enough at this point that the stress level wasn't as elevated as in years past. By the time we were ready to do the grown-ups part of the party most of the kids were up past their bed times, so the exchange was quick and painless. Not a lot of gift-stealing and drama this year (which may have had as much to do with the lack of interesting gifts), just git 'er done and get the heck outta there.
After opening gifts at home Christmas morning we headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house to spend time with that gang. Lunch preceded gifts this time, which was another exercise in patience for the kids. The gift that was the biggest hit that round was the 2-pound bag of Jelly Belly's that Mandi gave her Dad. The girls had Grandpa wrapped around their little fingers as he merrily passed out candy to the begging hoard! We got outside for a little while to enjoy the brief spell of good weather. Grandpa indulged the girls on the porch swing while Grandma pulled the others around the yard in Taylor's new wagon. Then Mandi was off to work at 3 and Daddy headed home with the girls to wind down from a long weekend and enjoy some snuggle time. Overall, this one goes down as one of the most memorable and enjoyable Christmas' yet. I hope everyone else had a very Happy Holiday!