Christmas is occupying a lot of space in my brain right now. Presents, ornament exchange, Zach's phone call on Christmas day from Estonia, getting the Christmas tree, a missing Christmas list from Madeline are just some of the things that are all jockeying for some attention in my very small brain. I have never been a spectacular holiday mom. Not one Baird child believed in Santa past 5 years old. We have only one thing we can say we "always" do. Lots of things we "used" to do and lots of things I "wish" we did. I console myself with the hope that I have made life easy for my kids future spouses because there won't be anything that the Baird kids HAVE to do for holidays when they grow up.
Present purchasing is always the biggest drama this time of year. All the Baird children submit lists to me. I always save their lists from year to year...no, I do not attach them to a sheet of amazingly beautiful acid free paper, with a very special archival quality glue, and write in calligraphy on them, I just throw them in a page protector and toss them in their designated box for them to get a kick out of sometime in the future.
I take the lists seriously. I do not purchase everything on the lists but the lists are what keeps me focused in the stores where I can tend to get very distracted. I keep their lists all stapled together in my purse, at all times, throughout the shopping season. It is catastrophe if I get caught without them...trust me I know. My plan B for avoiding catastrophe is that I rewrite everything on their lists onto another piece of paper just to help commit everything to my mind. This plan B started when I had a few times that I got home from being all cocky, shopping without the lists and realized I had been standing next to what they wanted and did not even realize it.
Every year there seems to be one child that really wants something that I can not decide whether to get or not. This year it is an American Girl Doll for Natalie. She has been begging for one for quite awhile. But for $98.00 bucks I want to know that she is going to play with it everyday and love it forever and that is not reality I can not know any of that until at least next March. So I have to take that leap into the unknown. And sometimes I take the leap and get burned and sometimes I take the leap and get to congratulate myself on a job well done. I have to decide by tomorrow.....help. I do not remember ever begging for a certain present when I was a kid. I can't remember ever needing something so desperately that I was sure I would die if I did not get it. So the few times a Baird child has done this I have not really known what to do.
Madeline, has been difficult to buy for the last couple of years she has started asking for totally impossible things...like a car. And she always digs in her heels and holds out for her one item rarely giving me other ideas thinking all her dreams will come true. I have to work hard to get her to give me some other ideas. I finally got her to talk about some other possibilities the other night.
Procuring the Christmas tree gets tougher and tougher each year. And I really hate that. We always cut our own and in an ideal world everyone with the last name Baird in our home would attend this outing but the last couple of years that ideal world has not existed. By the time you factor in amount of daylight in a day, weather, paper routes, dad's work, dad being in town, kids sports and the tree needing to be up before my ornament exchange it gets extremely complicated. So right now the plan is tree tomorrow at about 4 pm without Miriam and Amanda...but the weather is threatening so plan B is Saturday morning.
As you all know Zach is on his mission. This is his first Christmas away. In October we got an e-mail from his mission president telling us all about sending a package for Christmas to Estonia. About how long it took and details like that. I sent his package on Halloween. I filled one large flat rate box and spent $53.95 to send it. He already has it....one of the joys of having a paranoid, deadline loving mom. I wonder if the mission president expected there to be one mom out there who would take him seriously? :) Zach is under strict instructions to wait to open it until Christmas. He is one of "those" kind of people that never needs or wants anything. So it is very hard to buy for him. Being on a mission and being the strict rule follower that he is has made it even harder. He begged for letters for Christmas and I in turn begged everyone else for letters for him. I even offered to mail them if they would just e-mail them to me. We only got about 10 letters out of the 100 people that receive his weekly e-mail. So I felt bad that his one request for Christmas did not go so well. But I threw in a BYU t-shirt for p-day, the old stand by tie, a small travel game for p-days or when a companion was sick, some candy and some family pictures. I worry daily about what I sent.
My ornament exchange is a big part of the holidays. I started this tradition after we lived in Kansas and dear Wendy Stalcup introduced me to the fun (and stress) of an ornament exchange. I invite everyone and they all bring a wrapped ornament and I cook tons of food and we eat, fight over ornaments, and talk. This year the exchange is next Tuesday. I have my menu completed and I am very excited about it. Now I just need to chart and graph when I will fix each thing. What needs to be in the fridge over night and what needs the oven and for how long. And find the perfect thing to wrap my ornaments in. This is the one and only time I am all about wrapping and the appearance...usually I don't care about that sort of thing :)
The last but not the least thing on my mind is the Christmas card. This is one tradition I will always have. We send one every year to 100 families. I write it all by myself and I am pretty sure that this fact frustrates the heck out of my husband. I have thought about letting him submit an entry for my approval but I don't want to get his hopes up :) I am a little distressed because it is December 2nd and I have no picture taken and no letter written but I am taking deep breaths and designating tomorrow as, "writing the letter" day and Saturday is picture day...even if I have to grab someone off the street to take it for us.
So, what is done? Well my 100 stamps are bought, the front porch is decorated, the advent calendar is out of the box just not hung up yet, but I think I may still qualify for "mother of the year" because it was out of the basement before December 1st, and each child has at least 2 gifts in my closet....speaking of the closet and hidden gifts, the darn cat has eaten through three Target bags in my closet.....but I will tell you about that tomorrow :)