How did our Rule of Three go this year for Christmas? Short answer, pretty well. We stuck to the Rule of Three and the kids didn't seem to notice the difference. That being said, the grandparents did not do the Rule of Three, and so the kids did technically get more than three presents, albeit not from us. Even though scaling back on the gifts on Christmas is something I really believe in, I'm not about to tell grandparents what to do when it comes to the big day. Not going there. Their haul was also supplemented with snowboarding and ski gear to get ready for ski school next month and some books, so it wasn't quite as stark as some people might imagine. Finn, however, did point out that the snowboarding gear "wasn't a present", to which I swiftly explained that yes that WAS a gift (and was also the most expensive as well). My favorite part of the Rule of Three was that Jack only got one gift. Sean and I thought about what to get our almost two year old and really couldn't come up with anything, mainly because he has ALL of Finn and Levy's old toys to play with. I have to admit I'm a little OCD when it comes to keeping their toys nice, I pride myself on not losing any of the pieces and still have an intact Handy Manny tool set I bought for Finn when he was potty training. Hunter may have put some teeth marks in Stretch (the tape measure guy) but I still have every. Single. Piece. I did, however, give away a lot of Finn's old Thomas the Tank Engine toys once he outgrew them, mainly because I know how expensive a Thomas habit can get and how fleeting it can sometimes be, so I would happily dole them out to anyone whose child had a new found appreciation for him.
Sean and I finally decided that since the choo choos were pretty much gone except for a select few that we would get Jack a few more trains to boost his collection. I found an inexpensive set of generic (those Thomas trains really are crazy expensive) magnetic trains. Three of them in one box. It was the only gift that sat wrapped and waiting for Jack.
As Finn and Lev took their time going through their stockings and their little pile of gifts Jack hopped around stealing Christmas cookies and oohing and ahhing over what his brother and sister were unwrapping, pretty unaware that he too should be unwrapping stuff. When Jack finally unwrapped his one gift his pure, unadulterated joy at receiving NEW CHOO CHOOS was priceless.
Besides his new trains, Jack also fell in love with the little ballerina ornament I had gotten for Levy to mark the occasion of her being in the Nutcracker this year. I could have wrapped that up and given it to him and he would have been over the moon.
Did we get the "Is that it?" question? We sure did. But to be fair, we also got that question last year and the year before when there were a lot more toys. But once the unwrapping hoopla was over the kids got right down to playing with their new stuff. Since there were only a few things to focus on, nothing got tossed aside or forgotten. Each present was special. The clean up was the easiest it has ever been, and we didn't need to make a ton of room for new stuff coming in. The focus of the day instead was having a meal together with the family, eating the cookies we made together, watching holiday movies, just hanging out. We spent less, but the gifts were a lot more thoughtful, because I had to decide which ones they would really, truly appreciate. Levy was a little disappointed at not getting her Easy Bake Oven, but said she would just put it on her list for next year.
For dinner that night we had our Christmas crackers, which we do at every Christmas dinner. In case you're not familiar with them, they are little poppers that come with a paper crown, a little joke written on a slip of paper like in a fortune cookie, and some sort of tiny prize. This year I bought our crackers strictly for looks, they were made to all look like little Santa Clauses, and they were so cute. But I forgot to look to see if the little prizes were going to be appealing to the kids. Levy wound up with a small set of measuring spoons, and Finn wound up with a miniature stapler. Jack wound up with a teeny tiny silver yo yo.
The yo yo was lost almost immediately and is gathering dust and dog hair under a couch presumably, and although the novelty of the mini stapler lasted way longer than I thought it could possibly last, it was finally banished to the junk drawer. Levy, however, absolutely treasured her little measuring spoons, and assumed that I had purposely selected that specific cracker just for her so she would get them (I of course went along with that idea). Because the gold foil crown came with those measuring spoons in the cracker she insisted on keeping it too, and has been wearing it around the house for the past few days, only folding it up at night and smoothing out the creases till it lays flat and safe from getting crumpled. We made cupcakes for a party the day after Christmas, and I invented numerous opportunities for her to use her new spoons, and she was so proud at being able to help out. When I asked her why she liked them so much, she said it was because she liked baking with me.
It was this simplicity that I wanted for the holidays. This tiny little joy that usually comes by accident. To remember that a five year old girl can really be truly satisfied with very little. That wanting to give them all the toys they want usually says more about me and my feeling than theirs. That small children will usually prefer to play in the big box toys came in rather than the toys themselves. Next year we are going to take one toy away from the Rule of Three and add in an experience, something we can all do together, because memories are built on being with each other, not something you can buy from Toys R Us.
I hope that all of you had a really amazing holiday, and I want to wish all of you much love, happiness, health and peace for the new year. I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of facebook is scrolling through photos that we all post on the same day. The first day of school photos are always fun to see, as well as the Halloween costume ones, and the Christmas morning photos are also one of my favorites. No matter how you choose to celebrate, I wish you much joy. xoxo