Gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve 2015.
We broke from tradition a bit this year. It has always been our practice to open gifts on Christmas morning. That's how it was in my family growing up, and that's how it was in Mark's family, so that became the established tradition in the Carter home when Mark and I had our children. I love the old home movies of tousle-headed, sleepy-eyed kids stumbling from their bedrooms into the living room, eyes growing wide with wonder as the proof of Santa's late-night visit appeared before their dazzled eyes.
Dylan sorts the presents into four piles, one for each of us.
On occasion, we might allow the opening of one gift on Christmas Eve. Usually, in the Butler family, it was a pair of new pajamas made by Grandma Haley so we could wear them to bed that very night. Usually, in the Carter family, it was either pajamas (from Walmart) or the new calendar I chose for each child every Christmas. Never anything terribly exciting. Those were reserved for Christmas morning.
Dylan poses with his stack of presents on Christmas Eve.
With a houseful of working adults this year, though, we had to rethink things a bit. On Christmas morning Jake had to work from 6:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Mark had to work from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. At first I was somewhat of a die-hard, telling everyone we'd be getting up at 5:30 a.m. so we could open our gifts together on Christmas morning, as we'd always done. After enduring a bit of muffled grumbling, however, I relented.
Jake with his pile of gifts.
Jake told me that he and his mom always had to work on Christmas Day, so their tradition was to wait and open gifts in the evening after they got home and had Christmas dinner. I considered that idea but decided against it, mainly because Walmart actually closes on Christmas Day, which meant Dylan would be home all day. For us, Christmas is a day to play with your new toys, watch your new videos, read your new books, and play your new games. I wanted Dylan to be able to enjoy his new gifts on Christmas Day.
Mark enjoyed his first real Christmas since 2010.
So we all agreed to Option 2, and we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. We still had to wait on work schedules, since Dylan worked until 8:30 on Christmas Eve, but by 9:30 we were all settled in the living room and ready to share our gifts.
We got a chuckle comparing my pile of 3 tiny gifts to the guys' huge piles!
However, they were all thoughtful, amazing gifts and I loved each one.
Besides, I get my greatest fun from watching my family open their presents.
Dylan and Jake build their own mini-lightsabers.
We did not open every gift under the tree, just the ones we got for each other among the four of us. The gifts sent from Utah by Jacob and Danielle and those we received from Chris and Sarah we would wait and open together when Chris and Sarah joined us for Christmas dinner later on Christmas Day.
Success! Now they are both true Jedi!
It was fun opening our gifts on Christmas Eve, but it definitely had a different vibe. Even Dylan commented on how different it felt, not quite the same magical feeling as when we wake up on Christmas morning. For this year, though, I'm sure it was the better option than having four not-morning-people-type adults getting up before the crack of dawn and trying to act cheerful!
Dylan got this M&Ms dispenser for Christmas 6 years ago.
Every Christmas since then he gets a huge bag of M&Ms to fill it up.
As for the gifts we opened, I'll wait and share those in my next post about Christmas Day. As you may know, it's my tradition for each person to gather and display all their gifts together to be featured in a photo. That may seem silly now, but I started doing this back in the 1970s, and decades later it's fun to look at those old pictures and think, "Oh yeah, I remember when so-and-so gave me that! I loved that old gift!"
Dylan starts assembling one of his gifts, a K'Nex building set.
Christmas Day itself was pretty strange without the traditional gathering and opening of gifts to start it off. I got up at 7:30 to drive Mark to work. Then I washed dishes from dinner the night before (Mark had grilled steak and I'd made a big green salad for our quiet Christmas Eve dinner), and then I washed four loads of laundry before jumping in the shower. Meanwhile, Dylan slept late and then played his new video games all afternoon. Pretty much a typical day so far.
Santa fills the guys' stockings after midnight. There was no stocking for Mark,
so Santa filled a zip-lock bag for him!
Things began to feel a little more Christmas-ish around 1:00 on Christmas Day. But then, that's a story for another day!
A few gifts left under the tree to be opened on Christmas Day.