Monday, December 1, 2014

December Desktop Calendar

With all five of our children grown and, for the most part, out of the nest, I'm not really feeling the need to go all out with the decorating this year. I used to go a little crazy with the greenery, candles, Father Christmases, vignettes and creche's. (I have my grandmother's old figures that set in a wooden manger made by Kevin Manning, a highschool friend, a Precious Moments one, complete with kings, camels, and stable walls, an Amish one with quilts but without faces, a miniature one, a handpainted wooden one that fits like a puzzle into the stable, 2 different Hallmark get the idea.) I should pull them out so you can see. But that would take effort, so you know that's not going to happen any time soon.

Anyway, just like I used to go overboard with the decorating, Andy and I used to pile presents under the tree for the kids til they wouldn't fit under the tree, or even inside an 8' circle around the tree! Then, one year, embarrassed and dismayed by the Gift Gluttony that our kids began to exhibit, we came up with a solution to limit the gifts without making the kids pout and feel neglected.

We decided that since Jesus only received three gifts (remember the 3 wise men?), the kids shouldn't receive more than Him. We explained it to the kids, and they seemed ok with that.
The real trick was how to make the present-opening last longer than 30 seconds per!

So, we made the kids work for their gifts. Don't freak.
After they all went to bed on Christmas Eve, Andy and I (ok, not so much Andy) stayed up late writing rhyming clues. One for each set of gifts. We'd put them in envelopes numbered 1, 2, and 3 and placed them on the tree. Christmas morning, the kids were allowed to get up however early they wanted, but they could only open whatever little gifts were in their stockings. At 7, they were allowed to wake us up. (Of course, wanting to make their Christmas morning all beautiful and magical for them, I'd get up at 5, light a fire in the fireplace, and put on soft Christmas music. Then I'd go back to bed.)

Andy and I would come out at the appointed hour and I'd make a pot of coffee while the kids would begin to hand out the decent amount of presents under the tree - from and to each other, from relatives and friends, and to Andy & me. When all had been dispatched, the kids would begin on the clues. There were three rules: they all had to sit on the couch while someone read the clue; they all had to agree on the solution before they could run to see if they were right, and if they were wrong, they couldn't look anywhere else. They had to come back to the couch and re-read it and try to solve it again.

At this point, I'll say that at 2am on Christmas Eve, the clues seemed extremely clever and poetic, and I was so proud of my ability to cloak an obvious hiding place inside an obtuse reference. Come the harsh light of day, however, more often than not, it became an incomprehensible and unsolvable riddle. Probably due in part to the mugs of homemade egg nog heavily laced with rum consumed whilst composing.

The really cool part of this exercise was that I could sit back and have another cup of coffee or egg nog (shhhhh....with rum!) without all the hectic wrapping paper and ribbon explosions as in the past. And the kids really enjoyed the hunt. It extended present-opening from 5 minutes to about 2 hours! Bonus: since each of the kids were only allowed three presents, Andy and I became much more selective in our present shopping, which, lo and behold, saved us a ton of money! Win/win!

Feel free to use this idea (if you didn't already shop your brains out on Black Friday)!

Finally, here's your calendar - Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

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