Christmas can be really hard. It can be especially hard preparing everything when you’re on your own, kids in tow. And kids are smart. They know when you’re finding things tough.
And so, today while we were running through my lengthy list of pressing errands, my eight year old ran around the car and pushed me hard in the gut.
“What are you doing? Stop! Stop!” I was agitated. When did she become so strong?
She looked up at me with glistening eyes and pointed to the blue ribbon she stuck on my belly. She had won the first place ribbon during a competition and, years later, still carried it with her everywhere she went.
“You’re my number one, Mommy.” She held her eight year old finger up and smiled.
I was shocked as I pulled the ribbon off my jacket to examine it. Her prize. It had worn from the touch of her dear little hand. Much of the gold writing was faded, but the number one and the Olympic torch remained legible.
That very morning we had been discussing priorities and how we needed to decide what was the most important, because there is never time for everything. Some things could wait, so we need to focus on what is most important.
The enormity of her statement filled my heart as I brought her in close for a bear hug. ‘You’re my number one.’ Her little sister, not willing to miss a single moment, joined in.
“I couldn’t have wished for a better gift this Christmas.”
She beamed with pride. “Neither could I, Mom!” And the three of us held one another tightly.
We didn’t finish that errand, or any other errand today. Instead, we headed straight for home. And when we got home, we didn’t worry about tidying in case someone dropped by. We decided not to worry at all.
In fact, decided to take the time for ourselves. To take the time to sing, to play, and to laugh together, because everything else just really isn’t that important.
So the cards will be sent. The house will be tidy. And the laundry will be finished. One day. Just not today.
Merry Christmas everyone! And God bless us, one and all.
My mother, who is affectionately known as Grandma Rossie, did everything for us growing up: cooking, cleaning, driving, teaching, and anything else she felt needed to be done. She was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mother, which was much more common in the 1970s through 1990s.
I, on the other hand, have my girls working as hard as I do at home. I couldn’t function if I had to do all the work at home on top of working full time! Honestly, sometimes I don’t know how we all make it through the day. But we do make it through and at night we all sleep well knowing we have to start again the next morning.
This year I’m heading to a potluck for Christmas dinner. I am in charge of only a small portion of the dinner, but for more people. I’m looking forward to a lot of laughs with friends and family. It should be much easier on me than my childhood dinners were on my mom.
The most exhaustive work that she did had to be our Christmas dinners. Grandma Rossie invited our entire family. It didn’t stop there! She also invited anyone else who might not have family nearby at Christmas time. It was wonderful! Well, it was wonderful for all of us. Maybe not so much for her.
She was in the kitchen for days, when she wasn’t cleaning the entire house, often on her hands and knees scrubbing our floors. She served the Christmas dinner to everyone and even did all of the clean-up. I barely remember her sitting down even for a moment, although I do remember she was always at the table for Grace. Did she even eat?
In her words…
Grandma Rossie talks about our Christmas dinners and the unsolicited feedback from her father-in-law at his final Christmas dinner. Sometimes you have to hear it from somebody else.
Maybe your kids don’t show you their Christmas List for Santa. Maybe your kids are too overwhelmed to tell Santa what they’d like. If your kids are like mine, you might have to hit half a dozen Santas. Well, I’ve done that for you! (The real one is at Market Square.)
Girls really want Shopkins, Dragons, Kendamas, and Bunchems. So what are all these fad toys? And what are this mom’s picks?
Watch my children’s wish list video and then read more below.
What are Shopkins? Shopkins are tiny bits of plastic about the size of the top joint
of your middle finger. They look like grocery store items with a happy face painted on them. Kids collect and trade these plastic pieces of garbage (some are actually little garbage cans, so that comment isn’t just a comparison). The sparkly ones are worth more, so if you happen across a package of sparkly ones, your kids will love you that much more. Elementary school-aged kids love them. Parents hate them. At least I hate them. If you don’t hate them, wait until you step on a few.
Cost: Buy more for a lower price and you’ll pay about a $1 per Shopkin.
FurReal Friends Torch, My Blazin’ Dragon
I panicked a little but when my daughter asked Santa for a fire breathing dragon that cooks marshmallows. Another mother let me know that it was “just a toy that costs over one hundred dollars.”
I chuckled at the kids’ lists, until Santa looked at me and said, “Santa delivers!” Maybe Santa should deliver, because over a hundred bucks is insanity! That was on a Friday night. The next morning, the toy dropped to less than half price at all the local stores, so I guess Santa did deliver.
What is this fire-breathing dragon? The FurReal Friends Torch, My Blazin’ Dragon is a cute toy that you fill with water and he sprays an orangey mist to look like flames. He also burps, which kids adore. Kids can also pet his nose for a cute response. He comes with a marshmallow on a stick that changes color from the dragon’s “flames” to look like it is torched. It’s definitely a gimmick, but FurReal Friends are still better than Hatchimals. I certainly wouldn’t pay full price for one.
Cost: These are up to $120. Look for the half price sales, which likely will remain until the current batch is sold.
Kendamas are the toys every schoolboy and girl wants this year. They are built to last, require no batteries, and provide long-term appeal, so both you and your kids will be happy.
What is a Kendama? A Kendama is a Japanese wooden cup-and-ball toy. The ball is attached by a cord to the handle, which has three cups (sides and bottom) to catch the ball and a spike on top to store the ball. Kendama is a well-constructed toy and actually holds kids’ attention long term, unlike most of the battery driven toys. It helps to develop hand-eye coordination.
Cost: This classic costs less than $20.
These are multi-colored plastic burdock burrs that stick together to make whatever you can imagine.
What are burdock burrs? If you ever had a round spikey thing from a small bush stuck to your clothing, in your hair, or on your pet, you know what they are. The are so sticky and annoying that they inspired the invention of velcro. Read more on wikipedia. So they serve their purpose, but can you imagine intentionally bringing these into your home?
Cost: Who cares what they cost. They are multi-colored plastic burdock burrs.
My standard Christmas shopping list is: Dress, PJs, Doll, Book, and Art supplies. The dresses arrive before the Christmas concerts. The PJs before all the Christmas parties. So that just leaves the Doll, Book, and Art supplies for Christmas morning.
I always start my shopping at L’il Shop of Science in Brunswick Square. Read more…
Gifts for Parents
And what about a gifts for parents? Everyone I talk to would love:
Furniture, especially shelves—Getting rid of furniture? Single, divorced, or new parents really need it! Offer it to them first, even if you are selling it. It’s hard to find affordable quality furniture. We’ll pay!
Free babysitting—This costs you nothing, but a few hours of your time.
Hats and mittens—This is actually for the kids, but really helps parents. Decent hats and mittens are pricey and kids always lose the last set long after they are out of stock in stores.
Anything else—Ask. It’s okay for Christmas gifts to not be a surprise.
I love Christmas shopping. I really do! I know that running around looking for gifts can be a nightmare, so I choose the easiest way to shop. I shop in uptown Saint John, which makes life a lot easier for me as a parent. Because I work uptown, I can also shop during lunch or on the way home from work. What could be easier?
My favorite store in Uptown Saint John
I love to Christmas shop in uptown Saint John. And my favorite place to shop has to be L’il Shop of Science in Brunswick Square! Carla Salazar greets everyone with a smile and provides the latest interactive educational toys for kids of all ages. She makes sure the store is well stocked with the standard goodies: Rockets, Telescopes, Chemistry and Physics sets, Rock Tumblers, Anatomy sets, puzzles, and games. She also brings in heaps of specialty items: Turbospoke bicycle exhaust systems, SmartPhone Science, and Puzzle Lights kits, to name a few.
Kendamas are all the rage right now and my girls begged me to buy them that very night. I insisted we wait to see what Santa would bring. A Kendama is a Japanese wooden cup-and-ball toy. The ball is attached by a cord to the handle, which has three cups (sides and bottom) to catch the ball and a spike on top to store the ball.
Personally, I was excited to see the pogo sticks. Yes, that’s a hint. There are only so many years I’ll be able to hop on one! Hopefully, Santa will remember me this Christmas!
My shopping excursion at L’il Shop of Science
I asked Carla Salazar if I could vlog while Christmas shopping at L’il Shop of Science to help other parents decide what to buy. She was nice enough to agree! So enjoy, like, comment, and share! Support businesses in uptown Saint John. Brunswick Square has so many wonderful businesses. Let me know what your favorite stores are and what you’ve bought for your kids this year.