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Hey everybody, It’s almost Christmas! Actually (as the headline might have led you to believe) it IS Christmas at my house. We celebrate here on the eve morn and then again at my in-laws on the 25th morning. It’s one of those funny situations only an Ill-Prepared Housewife would get into, but for us it really works.

So, on this occasion, I thought I’d share my take on some of our holiday traditions.

More about that Double Xmas

When my daughter was born, she was the first grandchild on my husband’s side of the family. Even though we live less than an hour away, we had always spent the night before Christmas at his parents’ house before children, and everyone was so excited about the baby that we figured we’d just continue the tradition with her along for the ride.

Cut to 13 years later, and that one decision has dramatically altered the way we celebrate Christmas. Once my daughter was old enough to know about Santa, he decided to come to our house Christmas Eve morning and THEN, because she was SO GOOD, he came to Grandma and Grandpa’s on Christmas morning again. I know, crazy! We still do that, which means Santa has to be totally ready to go the day before the day before Christmas. And somehow, he catches a little of my ill-prepared spirit every year. I’m surprised I never saw him sneaking out the door as we came down the stairs in the morning!

I could say that I regret our decision to stay over on Christmas Eve all those years ago, but I really don’t. I could say that it isn’t necessary to recreate everything about each holiday again and again, and that one is probably true. But that also has to do with my natural sense of loyalty, which I think is one of my more winning qualities in most cases. The takeaway for me is to make the best of what you’ve got. I always  remind myself that having two Christmases and having Santa visit twice is a good problem to have.

Christmas Decorating

My only outside decoration for Christmas is those electric candles that you put in the windows. They are elegant and understated and you won’t have to one day say “Are the kids too old for the inflatable-Santa-in-the-chimney?” That seems really depressing to me. But who am I kidding, I wind up leaving them in the windows all winter (“It wards off the depression of those early nightfalls,” I”ll say until about June.) And then I just turn them off altogether and forget about them until December. And I feel really festive when I turn them on again. Easy!

Inside, we have the tree and a few knickknacks around the house. I like to add only edible decorations to the few things we have accumulated every year. It gets back to that loyalty thing — if I add in something we can save, it HAS to go out every year. Each year we make graham cracker houses with royal icing glue and candy decorations. This year, my youngest decided to recreate the typhoon Haian devastation with her house.

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She was just as happy to take a picture of it and then throw it away, and so was I.

Gifts

Never underestimate the power of not giving. Seriously. My friend Kris and I have given each other the gift of not giving each other a Christmas gift for years! Kris actually buys a lot of people gifts so I think this is really something that helps her out. I actually just basically depend on Santa and then come up with creative ways to make it sound like I’m giving when I’m not. Which works well for me.

I can’t really get away with not giving my husband a gift. Because I love him and I know him really well, sometimes I’ll do something like organize my desk and the stuff in my desk drawers or clean up the basement. I think that might be his favorite gift. But this year, I think I’ve topped them all. I bought page-a-day calendars for each of the kids.  But when I told my husband, he begged me not to give them to the kids — he feels the little sheets of paper all over the place are a nuisance. At the time, I told him that he was mad with holiday malaise and I wasn’t listening to him. But actually, I’m going to give him the gift of not giving the kids calendars. But in a twist inspired by O Henry’s Gift of the Magi (You may be more familiar with its iteration on Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas), I will ask him to let me replace our hand wash only glasses with some that can go in the dishwasher. Love means letting your spouse eliminate something that causes unnecessary cleaning.

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