This will be my last post related to Christmas--for 11 months, that is! Tomorrow is Epiphany, when we celebrate the three kings visiting Jesus, in the church calendar. In Mike's family tradition, we leave our shoes under the tree tonight, and the three kings leave one final present. And then we can take our tree down. Usually I'm ambivalent about taking the tree and decorations down, but this year I'm ready. Nick keeps taking the ornaments off and playing with them...and he also likes to plug in the tree lights, which makes me very nervous.
In spite of this apparent one-more-chance shot at getting gifts, we consciously chose to keep our gift giving more low key this year. According to this article in the New York Times, many Americans are making that choice, although you wouldn't know it from all the buzz about shopping. We made that choice not so much because of economic necessity (as we have been largely shielded from the recession compared to so many others), but because of my "One Year to an Organized Life" project in 2009. I am so overwhelmed by all the unnecessary things we own and all the money that gets spent (by us, and by others) on things that do not get used. In the spirit of reducing clutter, we chose a little bit differently this year.
Fortunately the kids were really easy. Nick wanted only a ukulele. Kieran wanted hot wheel tracks, which he got from his grandparents. Chris wanted WWE videos and books but he knew we wouldn't buy them for him! (And actually, he said to us the other day that he's finally reached his limit on wrestling books and videos...thank God!)
In lieu of gifts (except for a few tokens), Mike and I decided to make a donation to a charity that fixes cleft palates. After researching cleft palate charities, we ended up with Interplast, because of the high grades it receives for low overheads. The better-known cleft palate charities, Smile Train and Operation Smile, spend a lot higher percentage on fundraising. Their directors also have a highly public feud with each other, which really turns me off. At any rate, this was a very personal choice for me, since I'm well aware of how lucky I was to be born in this place and time and have my own cleft palate and lip repaired.
For Chris and Kieran, we gave them tickets to see "Rain," a Beatles tribute band. The concert was last Saturday, January 2. Our family has been into the Beatles lately with the Beatles Rock Band I got for my birthday. I wasn't sure how they would react, since they were not prepared for this gift, but it was a big success. We had a blast! The band was really talented and did a full multimedia show along with the singing, costume changes, etc. It's brought up lots of questions about war and peace, etc. We unearthed an old CD the Fairy Godmother Nancie had given Chris of kids singing Beatles songs, and it's on the stereo constantly now.
Nick was very sad not to be able to go to the concert, but he had a good time--as usual--with his grandparents. When we went to pick him up, they were in the middle of The Little Engine That Could, one of my childhood favorites:
Happy Epiphany everyone!