This week we celebrated a couple of traditions we have started for Christmas. The first was ornament shopping. Every year, everyone gets to shop for a new ornament. After Christmas I package all the ornaments up according to family member so that when we decorate the tree, everyone gets to put their own ornaments on and remember when/where they bought it. And when they grow up and are on their own, they will all have a big collection of ornaments to use for their own tree. Jeff, of course, said we would need to get a storage space to keep them all until they had houses of their own! I used to pick out the ornaments myself, and try to get something that represented that year for the kids (like a soccer ornament for Arlie that you can "flick" the ball in the goal and it shouts "gooaaallll!"). This year, we all picked out our own. Jeff got his truck - finally - even if it is just four inches long! It's an old Ford, just like he would buy if he could. I picked out an exact replica of the Fisher Price barn! Just like my barn (I still have an original) I used to play with when I was a kid. My Fisher Price Little People were my absolute favorite toy as a child. Hayley picked out a Precious Moments ornament - an angel holding a dove with "2008" printed on it. She has a collection of Precious Moments, started when someone gave us four figurines. After that we added one for her First Communion, a Nativity Set for Christmas and several more ornaments. Hannah picked out one of the Grinch near a crooked Christmas tree. We just watched The Grinch movie recently and it's a staple of Christmas! Arlie picked out a Nativity scene. She has a small Nativity in her room and a Nativity ornament so she might have a collection on her hands. Harrison picked out a working slot machine! Yes, a slot machine! Not that the kid's ever been to Vegas, but the handle really pulls down and the pictures line up - very fun! The photos show our picks.
Another tradition we have is dollar store shopping. I started this when the kids expressed a desire to buy their own gifts, from themselves, for family members. In order to keep the cost down, I took them to the dollar store and had them each pick out their own gifts. They would walk around with their own baskets and a bandanna placed on top for "no peeking" in case they ran into each other in the aisles. Gifts have ranged from notepads to book lights to everything in between. It's a great way to afford letting everyone buy something for each family member when you have a bigger family. It's now evolved into them spending their own money as well. They take their own funds and choose and wrap all their own gifts. This year we learned a little about budgeting as Hayley and Hannah have "graduated" to wanting to shop at "real" stores for their gifts and spend more. They all learned how to make a list of recipients and assign a dollar amount to each person based on what they could afford and they did great! So, yesterday I took Harrison and Arlie to do their shopping (I have already taken Hayley and Hannah is slated to go this weekend). Harrison shopped like a man - checking off his list and choosing an item or two for each person in about fifteen minutes flat! Arlie was more choosy, and particularly ticked off to learn that not everything was a dollar. It's a fun tradition and they love coming home and wrapping their own gifts. It's one of my favorite parts of Christmas. One year, when the kids were little, they came home and wanted to wrap their own gifts for the first time. I said "ok" and gave them free reign of the wrapping table. When I checked on them later, all their gifts were awkwardly wrapped in the most expensive gold paper I had bought! You know, the paper you save for the "special" gift? But of course they wanted to use the gold paper - it was shiny, embossed with a holiday design and nice and thick so it didn't rip when they tried to make "corners". I just smiled and said nothing, because, really, it wasn't about the wrapping paper. It was about the kids wanting to give us the "best".