We have lots of children, seven in fact, and four of them are born around the Christmas season. Fluffy is on the 27th of December, Roo is on the 8th of January, TrojanHero on the 15th of Jan and finally Sauraus on the 27th of January.
You could be right in describing this season as a busy and financially draining time of year for us, and yet everything is going very well. We've had some luck in the form of large gifts just falling in our laps, cheap or even free, smaller gifts being found at even more reduced prices and we've been chilled at finding them.
We have a big family, and we used to run on the idea that everyone got everyone else something each. It was a lot of present buying, a lot of money and it meant a lot of things were left in their stockings at the ends of the their beds, un-played with for a long time. It was too much.
Two years ago we moved to a new structure, a new way of doing things. Everyone gets a present form mum and Dad, the kids get a gift for mum and dad from them, and then they all put their names in a hat and they pull out the person they are going to give a gift to. It means that every person gets two gifts and a stocking. I wrestled with this new regime, thinking it was paired back too much, that it would mean they would be unhappy to have less, but I've come to understand that isn't the issue at all.
The issue was that I felt bad that we couldn't spoil them all because I didn't earn enough. It was all about pride, all about me, and coming into that first new Christmas I was dubious we'd see a happy day... But it turned out great!
On that morning everyone had a cool stocking of cheap books and some very cheap movies and some sweets and bits and pieces. It was cool. When they hammered downstairs they knew they were getting two things and so when they got them they opened them carefully, not with one eye looking out for the next one, but concentrating on what was before them. With fewer gifts to buy people spent longer shopping around for the right gift, not the easy one, and we even brought in elements of having to make or craft something too.
This year we have gifts bought, things stored and gathered, and I'm looking forward to the big day. We still have a way to go before we're ready, but we are getting there, even with the current sparse funds and lack of work, and though I am very grateful that we are coping... I dearly want this to be the last year we walk past the windows we want to look in and instead head to the ones we can only just afford.
Don't get me wrong, I'm over the moon that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by thoughtful people that can see the issues and act without prompting, to help us out. But I'd much rather be doing it, and everything else, on our own backs.
Still, their generosity is never forgotten and the kids love of the simpler gifts they receive is never taken for granted by me. I'm thankful for the wonder that they all are, and that is what the season is all about.
Not the presents, but the presence.