Christmas 2017

Although Christmas was just yesterday, we celebrated at home in San Francisco more than two weeks ago, so in a way, Christmas felt 'over' to us a while ago. We love coming to Florida at Christmas and having Christmas be such a small part of that time away and we feel that it's easier to take the focus off material gifts when we're away for the big day, but it does feel like a mad dash from Thanksgiving to our Christmas which usually falls around the 11th or so. This year, even with Thanksgiving on the early side, it still felt like a lot to cram in, and all stuff I wanted to do. It's always a busy time of year anyway, and with all the kindergarten applications due the first two weeks of December, it was busier than normal.

This is the first year the boys were really in to Christmas, William in particular had a long list being made in November, basically wanting to add everything he saw or heard about to his list. George had one Melissa and Doug horse carrier that he saw at the book store and threw a huge fit when I wouldn't buy it for him back in October (I had to carry him out of the store!) and true to form, he kept that as his number one item. With the boys being a bit bigger this year, and especially with William getting so into the gifts side of Christmas, I felt like I had to overcompensate and I was constantly bringing up how it's a good time to help others, brainstormed ideas on things we could do, etc. George was very into this and every day he would tell me different ideas of how we could help people -- 'Mom, maybe we could leave a chair outside our house so a person by the streetlights could have a place to sit down'. There were several projects we put in action, George taking the lead, but William at least participating.

First, the kids decorated lunch bags and then we filled them with new socks, deodorant, a toothbrush/toothpaste pack, healthy snack and several pieces of fruit. The boys went out with Jessica one night to look at lights in the neighborhood and handed several bags out. One was offered to a man who often is in front of the grocery store working on his art. He was so touched and let each of the boys pick a picture to take home -- William picked one of a wolf of course! We also took the bags downtown when we went to see Santa and unfortunately the options of people to hand out to there are endless. We even were able to hand one out the window to a man asking for money at a stoplight which makes me think I should keep some of these bags with non-perishable stuff in my car at all times. I would never stop to give money, but handing a bag of some basic necessities is such a great way to practice what we're preaching to the boys.

The other project that was a lot of fun and George was so into was decorated and stocking a box of drinks and snacks for our delivery workers. We put it out the Saturday after Thanksgiving up until the day we left -- we did most of our shopping for Christmas on Black Friday so we had tons of boxes coming. We got some really nice notes from the delivery works and George loved checking it every day and restocking whatever was needed.

I look forward to when the boys are a little older and we can be even more hands on with volunteering.

The Saturday before we left for Florida we didn't have anything planned so we decided that Friday night would be our Christmas Eve and did the full celebration the next day. The boys were really excited and it was a really nice morning. They opened things, played with them, then went on to the next, but really the lego structures too up most of the day. Poor Coco was left to entertain herself with her new toys as I helped William and Dave helped George. We stayed inside all day and the plan was to go out for an early casual dinner in the Mission and then drive around and look at Christmas lights, but G came down with a fever just as we were getting ready to leave so that didn't happen, at least not that night.

Despite William's long list, we narrowed down his list a bit:

  • A radio control bat mobile (from Santa)
  • Lego fireboat
  • A dragon, to go with a castle set we have
  • Boxing gloves, something Dave picked for them

  • A radio control bat mobile (only asked for this when we sat down with him and clarified that he wouldn't get one as he asked Santa for something else -- we weren't sure he got that and didn't want a big fit, so then he changed his mind and asked for this)
  • Melissa and Doug horse carrier
  • Lego police station
  • An ogre, to go with the castle set
  • Boxing gloves
We had a few gifts that they got to share, either from us or from family members who asked -- dominos, more magna tiles, Osmo coding kits, a board game. Honestly, we felt like we did much better versus last year when we were actually home for Christmas. But we had tried to settle on 3 presents each but then there's something else Dave or I had been thinking about, or you don't factor in gifts from other people and it still turns out to be too much. William was set on that bat mobile even though it was vintage and Dave knew it wasn't going to work well (he had to buy them off eBay) but William was set on it. They didn't work well so they'll be donated when we get home.

It was fun putting together a list for Colette this year as I really had a feel for what she would enjoy. She got (either from us or others) a 'my first' doll house, bristle blocks, magiclip dolls, a vet kit, a magna doodle and a toy vacuum. She really loved everything!

Stockings were fun at this age as there are so many other small things that I knew they'd like. Colette got new hair bows, a wallet with old gift cards to pull out, play keys and sticker books for the plane. The boys got new electric toothbrushes, fun socks, boogie board drawing boards and a few other knights or other castle accessories.

We celebrated the German tradition of St. Nicholas just a week before and they had fun pulling similar items (mini lego sets were the biggest hit!) and candies out of their shoes.

Despite the limited time we had, we were able to cross many things off our list -- the boys and I went out to dinner and drove around to see Christmas lights, including the famous Tom and Jerry house, I took them ice skating, I took the three kids to our annual tradition of lunch at Sears Fine Food, then rode the glass elevators and visited Santa. This year the boys and I went to see a kids Nutcracker performance too. George started getting a little squirmy around 45 minutes in (show was 50 minutes) so this was a success in my book and William loved it of course. The Dickens Fair was also a fun addition this year. Partly due to the kindergarten process, but also because it sounded fun, we attended the school's Holiday event which included decorating these amazing gingerbread houses.

Glass elevator

While the presents part of our Christmas was over, it was so fun to be at Disney during the holidays. I guess I noticed it more this year, partly because we went to one of their nighttime holiday events, but it did feel so fun to be there at that time of year. Our Christmas in Naples was low-key. In the past, we've tried to go to a nice outdoor Christmas Eve service but we knew C wouldn't do well and since the kids are pretty much on local time, the timing wouldn't have helped anything so we just passed. We had a seafood feast and were planning on driving up to North Naples to see a neighborhood lights display but William wasn't having a good evening so we decided not to go. We woke up on Christmas morning (after C had been up from 10:30-1am) and the boys opened their magna tiles and Lion King masks and we had a nice breakfast. We said goodbye to my mom and then spent the rest of the day at the pool. Despite short naps, we had a nice afternoon and had an early ham dinner, then headed up to see the lights display which was actually so great. A whole neighborhood of maybe 10 streets, each street with a different holiday theme. It was so much fun.

I always love the holidays and it's so much fun with the boys getting a little bit older.

Presents from the boys from preschool :)

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