Thought I'd share a couple of our family Christmas traditions with you all and include a few pictures of the first night of one of our traditions (sorry, Tressa, haven't gotten the decorations photographed yet; I'll try to do that today).
I think I've mentioned here that we have developed a tradition of giving each kid three Christmas presents from Daddy & Mommy: a book, a DVD (or TV show season), and a toy/game. This keeps Christmas to a relative minimum and gives us some structure to our shopping. Plus, it helps us plan ahead when we're buying Christmas presents in June or July when we're in the US or someone is coming to visit.
This tradition is related to another of ours: we open one present per day each day until Chrismas Eve (Christmas morning is stockings).*
The above two traditions are related in that they stem from what we affectionately refer to as The Christmas That Was Way Out of Control (which is better than ML's family's Worst Christmas Ever, but that's a whole 'nother post). MS was two, about to turn three. JW was a baby. It took MS hours, truly hours, to open all of his presents. We were constantly forcing him to abandon playing with one new toy in order to move on to opening the next (all while JW was happily rocking in his Fisher Price rocking chair, laughing at the ripping paper). These were toys from ML and I, toys from my parents, toys from ML's parents, and toys from all three of our siblings (later that day, we celebrated with the other ex-pat family and exchanged more presents :-). Oh yeah, and we had purchase presents on behalf of three great-grandmothers. I think, partly, we were all trying to make up for a crudy couple of years, which had included WM's death and an emergency evacuation. I think, too, that it had something to do with the fact that, at this point, there were only two other grandchildren on one side and none on the other. And MS was still the only grandchild past a babyhood. Even in the midst of the present opening, I remember thinking, "This is way out of control." And I know ML had similar thoughts.
While we didn't whittle down to our three gifts for several years (partially because it doesn't completely work with toddlers), the very next year we started backing up present opening based on the number we had to open to work out to one per day. If I remember correctly, we miscalculated and had a couple to open Christmas Eve, but it was still a vast improvement. Presents, even "less desirable" ones like "just a book" (practically a heretical phrase in our house, but you get the idea) were fully appreciated and fawned over. For a whole day. There was even a year where we were very busy around Christmas time due to it coinciding with a Muslim holiday during which we had many visits to make (the Muslim calendar is lunar, so the holidays move in relation to ours; therefore, this isn't always the case). That year, we were still opening presents through the end of December.
This year, we're on track to get finish opening our presents Christmas Eve. Then, Christmas morning, there will be Advent, stockings, breakfast from our stockings (with scrambled eggs), and preparations for our ex-pat Christmas dinner gathering (which will be Mexican food this year!). I'll write more about those things as they come to pass.
I think I'll close this post and put up a separate one with the pictures. It'll be less cluttered.
*The finishing up of present opening on Christmas Eve was a minor relational bump early on in our marriage as ML's family opened all presents Christmas Eve and did only stockings Christmas morning, whereas my family opened one present on Christmas Eve (a tradition my brother and I conveniently made up one Christmas Eve) and then did stockings and presents on Christmas morning. And when I say minor bump, I mean minor bump. I decided that A) Christmas Eve was as good a day as any to open presents (or finish up opening, as it's developed) and B) ML is *super* easy-going, so if he had a preference on this, I should take advantage of the fact that he was expressing it and go with it.