Mission Possible VII: Christmas


Santa Came to Town!

As the kids get old enough to “get it”, it becomes even more important to make it special – and my husband is the master of that. This year, not only did he shop for me, but he also shopped for himself, wrapped his and my gifts with the kids and put them under the tree. You read that right: I had no idea until Christmas what I got for Bart.

Funniest part is that HE didn’t realize that until he was telling me which one he should open first. I (for once) had simply followed instructions. He told me he had purchased things for himself and that I was not allowed to buy him anything more. Well, I DID do a little of that, since I couldn’t stand him not getting anything from Santa, and since the kids had WRAPPED his gifts, those were clearly NOT from Santa.

Anyway, that was just one of the many tactical errors made by Santa’s elves this Christmas. I’ve gathered some tips so the same might not happen to you:

  • Never, and I mean never, go to Target WITHOUT the kids just to “get a few small things for their stockings”… Trust me.
  • It’s a great idea to give kids the Target Holiday Toy book and allow them to circle some things that they might want for Christmas – as long as you TELL them that they will not get EVERYTHING they circle (which we did). But then, when you shorten that list, DO NOT revisit it later thinking “maybe just a few more things…”
  • Get a Douglas fir tree. This year we ended up with a Noble fir, which we got right after Thanksgiving, and today, that is ONE DROOPY tree…plus, it never smelled like Christmas (even though Bart bought scented sticks, my nose was not fooled).
  • Even if it worked like a charm 2 years ago, THINK TWICE before wrapping the kids’ door with red and green streamers… At 2 am you just might hear the door open (even if you INSIST that your kids go potty before bed for just such a reason) and have to talk a child through sneaking out under those streamers quietly to not wake her sister. And at 2:30 am you may have that same little girl at your bedside unable to sleep because she is “trapped in her room” (read: she wants to see if Santa brought toys)…
  • If you want that little girl to go back to sleep until 6 am, don’t tell her you want her to sleep for “8 Mickeys” (Mickey Mouse shows) and NOT give her an iPad. Most children stink at gauging time, but I’m willing to bet that NONE of them can guess how long “8 Mickeys” is without watching 8 Mickeys. I’m honestly not sure how long/if Zoe slept after 2 am…

Oh and,  if you have a husband like mine who lives to make experiences for people, make a LIST of all your Christmas traditions so he can SEE that you have 20 things that you do EVERY YEAR. Otherwise, on Christmas Eve he may just think you haven’t “done enough” and make you doubt yourself so much that you search Pinterest to FIND a tradition to start THIS year, only to find you already DO most of them.

For posterity’s sake, here’s our list (with a few shifting exceptions):

  1. Get and decorate a tree as soon as humanly possible after Thanksgiving
  2. Let the kids put the star on top (I’m dying to see how this one pans out next year, now that Zoe is already almost 50 pounds!)
  3. Hang Christmas lights around the living room (this year we added a Rudolph)
  4. Go see Christmas lights somewhere else – we do everything from enjoying them as we drive around to Zoo lights and other “professional” ones
  5. Bake cookies and butterscotch blondies
  6. Buy gifts (and/or give baked goodies) to kids and teachers at school
  7. Use an advent calendar
  8. Go see Santa at the mall or anywhere else we can (we get in at least 2 Santas)
  9. Take pictures for the Holiday Card and send out a bunch
  10. Against your better judgment, have an Elf on the Shelf
  11. Have a “big feast”, as Zoe calls it
  12. Listen to Holiday music nonstop from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day
  13. Donate toys to other kids
  14. Make a gingerbread something
  15. Watch Holiday movies: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (and various others on Netflix)
  16. Dress up for parties, school and for the first year ever, matching Family Christmas pajamas
  17. Open presents on Christmas Eve with the Johnsons and Christmas Day with my family
  18. Enjoy Christmas performances at school and winter camp
  19. Put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve
  20. Spend time with friends and family – in person, on the phone and on video

This year, our friends Rebecca and Danielle just came over for brunch, and I’ve cleaned up the living room 3 times after the girls have opened gift after gift for what seems like a week straight. Speaking of which, I have a suggestion:

Dear Our Generation Doll maker, 

You should really rethink your Coral doll packaging. Seriously.


Two key themes this year: 1) My super cool niece Sophie gave Zoe her American Girl doll (Laney), so we got Ella that Our Generation doll (Coral) above and somehow have 25% of all available accessories for those dolls all over our house – and there are a lot. 2) A Li’l Woodzeez doll house and seemingly 2,000 tiny pieces that go along with every animal family you can think of… It’s been a blast opening parent proof packaging and trying to wrangle every teeny bit.

Disturbing packaging aside, we are SO BLESSED to have each other, our amazing friends and family, and to be able to give our children a Christmas filled with too many gifts from the Target Holiday list, while they still prefer “volume” to “value”.



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