Christmas, help!

As the kids get older I find it harder to think of Christmas presents for them. Our apartment is not massive so I really have to think about space, also I don’t like just buying things for the sake of buying. I want to get them gifts that will mean something to them and they will use. I just don’t know what those things are.

My first thought was bikes, Summer is the only one that can ride without stabilizers which I find totally ridiculous but I guess moving to the city where the sidewalks suck and everyone drives, it never calls for cycling much.

Really, I think I would just like to get them a couple of little things each and then spend the big money taking them somewhere exciting. An experience to remember! But Christmas for kids has turned into a shit show of plastic and paper, with the excitement of opening gifts then throwing them aside. Do they really need another box of shopkins or  more toy cars or whatever fad gift is relevant this year?

I’ve been wondering a safe way to teach them about the value of giving, that is a much nicer and more fulfilling way to spend Christmas than receiving an abundance of toys. I’d really like to head down to a soup kitchen or something but I don’t know about having a four year old in that environment is any good or even a thing that is allowed. Also I know that everyone wants to help at this time of year and we would be better doing a homeless charity when volunteers are low mid year. I guess google will be my friend when investigating this.

So how do you all choose Christmas presents? How do you differentiate between what they really want and what they REALLY want? My kids tend to look at catalogues that we get through the door and pick about 10 things on each page. Telling me how cool it is and how they absolutely need a chocolate making kit or they may not survive Christmas. Jeezy, were we all this greedy as kids?

I still remember my favourite present as a kid. I don’t really remember my age, maybe six or seven. I was overjoyed with a cardboard sweet shop that had real sweets. I sat for hours weighing out sweets for everyone that they were not allowed to eat, because then I’d have none left to play with. The sweet shop could not have cost for then a couple of quid, but boy did my mum do well that year! Now it’s about spending as much as you possibly can on the kids. Everyone posts to Instagram and Facebook with their massive piles of presents under the tree on Christmas eve. I feel a bit like it is keeping up with the Joneses and I just couldn’t give a crap about that. I would rather impress my kids with time and an experience.

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Since I started writing this blog post, Jacob and I have decided that we are going to go away for Christmas. The kids will get a few little presents as we can’t carry that much then a larger one between them when we get back. While away we will show them the craziness and man made eyesore that is Las Vegas, then move on to Lake Mead in the hope that we can teach them about how Vegas may be fun but it is draining this lake dry. I will come armed with information about what conservation ideas are around and see if they can think of any. From there we’ll move on to the Grand Canyon because who doesn’t want to see metamorphic rock…this will take some good explaining, I’m sure! Then to the Joshua tree for a little hiking and peace. Being a thrifty chick I want to do all this on a budget. Google has already told me a lot of exciting free things to do while on the trip but if anyone has anymore ideas then hit me up. I really want to show these kids everything!

 

 

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December, December.

December.

I love December, Well, I love November too.

Dinovember straight into putting up the Christmas tree, what’s not to love.

Last Christmas (2014) was all a bit rushed. We moved to L.A from London on the 28th December so our flat was bare. Apart from a few pieces of furniture and a Christmas tree which was hastily binned on the 26th. Friends were coming in and out taking pieces of kitchen ware that we were not able to pack. We were sleeping on Mattresses on the floor as we had sold all the bed frames and we had five suitcases which we had to fit everything into. All of the kids presents were either edible or things that they would colour on the flight. Looking back on it, it all seems very disorganised and totally haphazard but we done it.

Now a year on with no move in sight. There was no rush. No stress to pack up. So, I got my Christmas crazy on. The kids and I made decorations. We took trips to see Christmas lights. We watched only Christmas films for the whole month  (apart from Frozen, once). I downloaded cheesy Christmas Albums to sing along to everyday. The radio in the car was changed to a Christmas station and I enjoyed every moment of it!

We were lucky to have visitors from the UK. A family from Summer’s old school came to stay. We had so much fun. The kids playing around in the apartment. Taking a trip to the beach and having walks in the canyons. Us mums had a night out and a night in (painting nails while drinking cocktails…not a great idea!) They were here for ten days and left just before Christmas day but I considered hiding their passports and keeping them here for longer.

My brother decided a couple of days before Christmas that he would take a last minute flight out to see us for a couple of weeks. He would be here just in time for Christmas dinner. Not in time to help prepare dinner but perfect for eating it!

On Christmas eve we were in a dilemma as to what to do. My first instinct was to drive somewhere with real snow and play around. Then I though the Pasadena Christmas parade truck would be fun. but in the end we opted to go to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown L.A for their free Christmas concert. It is a televised show in a beautiful old theater where the public come along, grab a seat, watch choirs, dance groups and other musical acts. It’s a totally open door policy so we were able to leave when the kids decided to squirm.

When the big day finally arrived the kids received gifts that they could keep and play with for more than 48 hours. I was delighted to have their new toys lying around in the living room for days. Actually, some of the presents replaced things that they lost in the move. I can stop my motherly guilt about last year now…I’ve been carrying that for way too long!

As the days passed and new year came around. We had a ‘party like it was 1999’ or actually we danced around in the house, in the dark, with glow sticks. What kid (or adult) doesn’t like that huh! I then struggled to stay awake until the bells (or midnight if you’re not Scottish!)

Our yearly planning lists did make an appearance though. We looked back to see what we accomplish in 2015? What did we not accomplish? and more importantly what do we want on the 2016 list? I find these list really difficult to make, my little mind goes blank. However, I like that it sticks to the fridge and I have to look at them fairly often. Physiologically it must seep into my brain just from its presence. Maybe we get more done. Who knows? but I do like the tradition of sitting taking about what we want from the next 365 days.

I’ve started my typical January habit of reminiscing about life gone by. The hazy memory of the past where everything seems a little more golden but actually it was the same as it is now. It’s just that the real memory has faded and left me with something that resembles the truth. I am now looking at the 2016 list and repeating my mantra.

Always forward, Never back.