loving the gift… or giving the gift of love

You know that thrill of waking up on Christmas morning, to a pile of presents. You see the boxes and bags with your name on it and have that moment of anticipation, of “I wonder what’s inside?”

I didn’t get that this year. There were presents for my kids’ from family members that I didn’t know the contents of until opened; And my husband got a couple stocking stuffer-sized surprises (from me). But unless you count a few gift cards we received from family members and a very surprising Christmas bonus from Dan’s company, every present I opened… I wrapped. I bought. I picked out meticulously.

Dan and I have been in the habit of buying our Christmas presents for each other together. It’s always seemed easier. And until this year that hasn’t bothered me, because other people (namely our parents) were giving us presents, too. So I got to get “the present I wanted” and the “surprise presents” as well. It all made sense, until we moved. And neither of us thought much about it until the day after Christmas.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m disappointed that nobody sent me presents. We live 1,000 miles away and gift cards are more practical – and the kids are more important anyway. I put the gift cards we did get to good use – the kids got some adorable new outfits and I used a bit of our Christmas bonus to buy some of the books I’ve been coveting for awhile and Dan got a Mario game for the Wii and Wii Fit Plus was purchased for both of us. The rest of the bonus went towards our house savings fund, which will be the ultimate gift in a few years. “Santa” you could say, was good to us. But I missed that “surprising” feeling of “What will I get.”

All this means is that Dan and I decided to no longer aid each other in buying our Christmas presents. I want the surprise – so I’m going to let him surprise me. If there’s a present that I really want that doesn’t come Christmas morning, we can talk about it after the holiday and see what we want to do about it – maybe we’ll be blessed with more gift cards or another good bonus. And of course all of this seems to beg the question, “What is Christmas about? What is important and what isn’t?”

Is the stuff really this important? And for me the answer is no – but the surprises are. It’s not the item that matters, which is why picking it out myself doesn’t matter – to be honest, we maybe did this to avoid buying something the other wouldn’t really want. But… let’s have a little faith in each other and not worry about the material, but rather focus on the experience of opening a gift that the person we love picked out just for us. Celebrating the love that went into the buying of the gift – and not just the gift itself.

Does anyone else find themselves wrapping their own Christmas presents? Is the surprise important to you or would you rather just know you are getting what you want?

monday mentions: december 28th

Monday Mentions is an easy way to share any and all of the fun things you’ve discovered recently, online or otherwise. For more information read this post by the mastermind behind this whole thing, Jen @ Daily Mish Mash. Here’s what I’ve discovered this week…

This week all of my mentions are of the “new year” or “resolution” variety since, well, it seemed timely. Short and sweet, here are some things worth checking out:

  • Blissfully Domestic shares some great healthy New Years gifts to give yourself – all under thirty dollars. I’d like to throw in an additional suggestion, if you’ve already got the Wii Fit, you can get their latest installment, Wii Fit Plus for $19.99. We picked it up this weekend and are already loving all the new games and features. It’s definitely inspiring us to get back on the exercise bandwagon, which is good because the “eating healthy” bandwagon is still being ignored with all the great food in our home.
  • Another BD goodie – marriage resolutions for 2010 – 5 ideas to strengthen your relationship with your spouse
  • Simple Mom has some ideas for making financial resolutions – one of my personal resolutions for 2010 will be to get serious about saving for a house. What areas of your financial lives could use a resolution?
  • In her post about financial resolutions, Simple Mom makes reference to Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. Simple steps to creating an emergency fund, getting out of debt and investing in your future.
  • I’ve been spending a lot of time at lumosity.com lately – they have a lot of fun brain games to play and keep your mind feeling sharp.

daybook: december 28th

Today…

Outside my window: it’s another cold but mostly cloudy day. It snowed a lot last week and I’m hoping it’s gotten some of that out of it’s system… but not holding my breath.

I am hearing: Curious George on tv. PBS has decided to play nice again and is airing normal old PBS Kids shows instead of the butt load of random it has been dishing up for months now.

I am thinking: that I really dropped the ball with our ABC lessons these past two weeks. I week was rough because Dan was out of town and I couldn’t come up with many “easy for a three year old to comprehend” I words. Then last week was chock full of holiday business. I am thinking of going back and doing I or J week over again or maybe combining the two for a quick crash course and then starting K week next week. I went through my “calendar” of lesson plans and combined some other small weeks and now I have things set up to end just before his 4th birthday. I might even be able to print his ABC book as a birthday present.

I am hoping: that Miss Blue feels better after she wakes up – teething is basically the opposite of fun sometimes…

I am reading: Splendor by Anna Godbersen – one of the awesome books that I bought myself with some of the Christmas money we got from Dan’s work. They surprised us with a quite unexpected Christmas bonus. We’re putting most of it in savings, but Dan did let me treat myself to a few new books.

I am creating: nothing really, but right now I’m pretty content with just getting back to normal

I am wearing: new pajama pants from Target (with pockets!) that look sort of like these but grey with snowflakes and a black tee shirt

In the kitchen:

      Plans for the week: get back on track with MM’s ABC lessons, eat our way through all the delicious food in the apartment, go out for Mexican food and count down to the new year on Thursday

      A few of my favorite things: pajama pants with pockets, the Wii Fit 2, new books, Pioneer Woman‘s Olive Cheese Bread (and all the other fun recipes in her cookbook), my birthday cake which Dan made twicw when it didn’t come out right the first time… love that man!

      A picture thought:

      just because