Our Christmas mornings are usually filled with squeals of joy as our two kids unwrap the gifts they have been wishing for all year. The wrapping paper is flung every which way and has to be carefully thrown away, making sure there is nothing precious hiding in its folds. This is all followed immediately by loud crashing, beeping, thumping, zooming of an electric toy, or the noise of some obnoxious video game while us parents creep into the kitchen to refill our coffees in peace. This Christmas, however, was quite different.
For Thanksgiving, we went to the mountains of West Virginia, meeting my husband's family for a five day early Southwell Christmas ATV adventure. We didn't stay in hotels on the way there or back, driving the entire 18 hours straight through, both to and from. We didn't go out to eat while we were there, everyone brought food for carefully planned meals. We didn't tourist it up and visit every store around, though we did browse the camp store. Money was spent on gas to get us there, 1/4 of the cost of housing (we shared two cabins), gas for the ATVs, and a few other little things. It was one of the best times creating memories with loved ones that I can ever remember.
When we returned, on a car ride into school, I broke the news to the kids that the trip was pretty much our Christmas. Money was tight and, though they would get gifts from us, they would be practical things like much needed clothes and a smaller "fun" toy. They shouldn't expect toys from us, only Santa. I braced myself for complaints. When none came and an unusual silence filled the truck, I glanced in my rear view mirror and asked, "Which would you rather have: the trip we took to see family or the same amount spent on gifts at Christmas?" They wasted no time in blurting, "The trip."
So, this Christmas morning was filled with some squeals of joy and a much smaller pile of wrapping paper, but two very content kids. Their "fun" gifts from us were a board game for the family and books for each of them. Both of them were content to read for the morning, watch a movie with us as a family, and play the board game. The only occasional noise was from Evan, who likes to talk non-stop anyway, talking about the book he was reading.
The memories made this Christmas season have been ones I will treasure forever. I highly recommend exchanging your presents for memories. Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Evan has only recently become a reader, and he can't put down the series he is reading. This is a big deal, as he used to be the kid who had to be forced to read.
If you have one of these readers, check out the graphic novels of the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. I've read the first three book in the seven book series (though Evan informed me that there's another one coming out soon!) and they are very good.