christmas 2014


{image is a photo of the fireplace on Christmas morning, above which are hanging our now-full stockings. If you look reeeeeally carefully, you can see the cookie crumbs that Luau sprinkled on the nutcracker’s tray after we completely forgot the whole cookie thing before bed. Oops.}

I tried to keep it simple and lean. Not to get too much. Not only because money is tight, but because it’s just not the point. And too much is, well, too much.

I failed miserably.

A last-minute trip to the mall which  I swore would be a surgical strike in and out became an adventure in “Oh my God, [insert name of child] will LOVE this,” and suddenly the tree looked like this …



{image is a photo that Luau took of our Christmas tree at midnight on Christmas Eve. It is overflowing with gifts, most prominently a very large dinosaur that Brooke requested from Santa.}

One minute before that photo was taken, we were still wrapping gifts, realizing that we had forgotten the cookies for Santa, and Luau had loudly exclaimed, “Oh $!&#, I forgot to get anything for your stocking!” at which point I’d tossed him the extra box of toffee that I hadn’t needed for the teachers and said, “I really wanted these. Just make sure you don’t make a fire in the fireplace with these in there.”

In other words, I got to say, “Yay! I got exactly what I wanted!” when I opened my stocking the next morning and Santa got screwed out of his cookies. Oh well, can’t win em all.

Five hours after that photo was taken, I was awoken by a teenager doing her best impression of a five year-old on Christmas morning. Yes, really. She came into my room at FIVE THIRTY AY EM and told me it was time for Christmas. Loudly. The kid who I have to drag out of bed at 10:00 on weekends. I sent her back to bed and told her she wasn’t allowed back into my room until 7:00 or Christmas was cancelled.

She came back at 7:00:01 and woke me up, then began texting me around 7:10 to tell me I wasn’t moving fast enough. Meanwhile, her sister, the only one in the house who still (theoretically) believes in Santa, didn’t make a peep until 7:30. Go figure.

As soon as Brooke came downstairs, I sent her back up to get her Grammy and Grandpa DD and get the show on the road. I told Katie she could get her stocking and bring it into the living room by the tree. She then sat like this for the next ten minutes.


{image is a photo of Katie in her pjs and Santa hat, hugging her stocking to her chest and attempting to peer inside.}

Finally we got the troops together and the gift opening commenced. Brooke found herself a spot that she liked and settled into it.


{image is a photo of Brooke tucked in beneath the piano, under Katie’s telescope and surrounded by gifts.}

Until she opened a gift. Which she immediately announced belonged in the den. So off she went. And so began the process of Brooke’s present opening. Open, disappear, play for a while, re-emerge when ready. It was Christmas in a way that worked for her, and it was perfect.

I can’t even tell you how much fun it was to watch Katie open presents this year. Especially the books. I mean, how many kids get this excited about a (used) unabridged copy of Les Miserables? But that’s my girl.


{image is a photo of Katie with a huge grin after opening Les Miserables, which was at the top of her Christmas list.}

And the best part? After opening EVERY SINGLE one of these, she said, “Oh my God, this is the book I wanted!”


{image is the stack of books that Katie had amassed by the end of the day. From bottom to top: Harry Potter Creature Vault, The Spectacular Now, Fangirl, The Rosie Project, Les Miserables, Go Ask Alice, Six Months Later, Paper Towns, Eleanor and Park, The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, Harry Potter’s Ultimate Quiz Book. Thanks to Bibliofind, nearly all of them were  purchased used from independent bookstores around the country (and one in the UK.) That makes me happy.}

And reading them makes her happy.


{image is a photo of Katie with her nose already in one of the books.}

This year, I bought some really pretty gift boxes a) in order to avoid having to wrap everything in paper (which I pretended was because I was going green but was really because I’m lazy and tired and not wrapping gifts also happens to be conveniently environmental) and b) to be able to reuse them year after year. Brooke had an interesting method of opening them that sort of completely laid waste to the latter part of that plan.


{image is a photo of Luau holding a gift box, from which Brooke has just extracted a gift by tearing into one quarter of the top while leaving the rest not only intact, but still perfectly tied with ribbon and adorned with sparkle.}

And wouldn’t ya know it, she kind of liked the whole tearing paper thing.


{image is a photo of Brooke holding a ballerina doll from her grandparents. She loved watching her spin by her hair. Perhaps not precisely what was intended, but it made for a happy kid. Which made for a happy Mama.}

Luau was pretty excited about his gift from Brooke.


{image is a photo of Luau holding up his new Captain America t-shirt, photobombed by Katie.}

And Brooke loved her gift from Katie.


{image is a photo of Brooke hugging her banana pillow (a particular challenge from her Santa list) while opening her gift from her sister. It’s a figurine that she likes to play with at the Hallmark store every time we go – a little girl with a Dora backpack. In the foreground is a bag of Pork rinds that I’d put in Luau’s stocking. Apparently they were past their “good til” date, because, say it with me, I’m awesome, but that didn’t stop him from eating them. If he doesn’t keel over today, I’d say it worked out fine.}

And Katie was very, very touched by her gift from Brooke.


{image is a photo of Katie unwrapping her gift from Brooke – a figurine of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. A few weeks ago, Brooke handed this to me in a store and said, “We need to get this for Katie for Christmas.” It was the first time that she’d ever done that, for anyone. The fact that Katie had played Dorothy in her fall play, something of which she was very proud, clearly had not escaped her sister.}

Katie was also thrilled to finally get a Marauder’s Map.


{image is Katie reading her Marauder’s Map (it’s a Harry Potter thing) from her Baba and Grandpa Svend. She’s been wanting one for years but her mean mama wouldn’t spend the money on it. In other words, Happy kid.}

This is what it looks like from the front.


{image is a photo of the closed Marauder’s Map.}

She may have gotten just a couple more Harry Potter things. Ya know, just a couple.


{image is a photo of a box containing all seven Horcruxes in the form of bookmarks. I had planned to divide these up into her Advent elf, but once I saw them displayed like this, I didn’t have the heart to separate them.}


{image is a photo of some more Harry Potter loot. Clockwise from left: Quidditch socks, a sign I had commissioned that reads, “Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes, “a magic beyond all we do here,” a Gryffindor hat, and a Hogwarts dress. Photobomb by Katniss.}

With a little Doctor thrown in for good measure.


{image is a photo of a TARDIS cardigan (a Dr Who thing) lying on top of Gryffindor sweatpants. #WhenFandomsCollide}

She’d later come downstairs looking like this.


{image is a photo of Katie in her Gryffindor pants, Chaser socks and Gryffindor hat. I love my Potterhead.}

Meanwhile, Brooke was very happy to find Twilight Sparkle under the tree.


{image is a photo of Brooke kissing a very large My Little Pony. Irony noted.}

But it was the rainbow ribbon from her grandparents that was the biggest hit.


{image is a photo of Brooke twirling her rainbow ribbon from Grammy and Grandpa DD. She loved watching it dance at the end of its stick.}

She was pretty happy with this too.


{image is a photo of a very large Kai-LAN coloring sheet which Brooke immediately took to the den and colored between opening gifts.}

Once evening came, it was time for the birthday party.

The cake, which I’d completely forgotten about until Brooke asked after it around noon (and I’d subsequently scrambled to make), was ready.


{image is a photo of the cake that Brooke decorated for Jesus’s birthday. In food coloring, it reads, “Happy 2014th Birthday, Jesus.” She also drew a picture of Kai-LAN on it because, she explained, he was having a Kai-LAN themed party.}

After dinner, Brooke recruited everyone in the house, including our visiting friend, who happens to be an affirmed atheist, to sing for the birthday boy. That was sort of epic.


{image is a photo of Brooke smiling over the lit cake as her three My (not so) Little Ponies and her Clifford the (not very) Big Red Dog, watch. Irony squared.}


{image is a photo of Brooke helping Jesus (in the bottom right corner of the frame) blow out his candles.}

And then we all ate far too much cake.

In short, it was a very Wilson Christmas. Full of foibles and missteps and laughter and family and joy given and received in individual packages, some wrapped with care, some not wrapped at all, and some torn right open in the middle, just as they should be.

With love from us to you. May the joy of the season carry you through the year.

6 thoughts on “christmas 2014

  1. Katie seems like my kind of girl!! Love that she loves to read and LOVE that she loves used books! Nothing beats the smell of books! And its pretty cool to think about who has held them, read them and loved them before me!

  2. I love your Christmas story. Every year I, too, overdo the Christmas shopping. We are not the kind of people who buy things for our kids all year long and they are (fortunately) not the kinds of kids who ask for things constantly. We budget and scrimp and save. They get birthday gifts and Christmas gifts and that’s about it. So every Christmas I’m thrilled to pile packages under the tree – big things, little things, many of them fairly inexpensive – for the joy of watching them tear into the wrapping paper. My 17yo son is always, ALWAYS the first up on Christmas morning and will wake up his younger sisters (14 and 6) to recruit them to wake us up. The fact that they all find Christmas magical is as important to me as reminding them why we celebrate Christmas at all.

  3. Love how you “do” Christmas! It is perfect as it should be <3. We have or had a rule – can't wake Mom & Dad till 7:00 am – unless big sister calls before that (she is always up and ready to open Christmas by 5:30 am – chances are she's up before our grandchildren) and then well all bets are off. That changed this year with our girl on meds every 8 hrs round the clock…so 6:30 it was 🙂 And, like Brooke, Chloe does Christmas her way and we LOVE it!

  4. We’ve always tried to let Baguette open presents at her own pace, even if that means it takes a week to get to all of them. If she enjoys the process, why not?

    (This policy didn’t work as well this year, but I’m going to try to get back to it next year. Which now that I type it, is going to be harder because we won’t be at our house.)

    And Katie had my kind of Christmas! I used to get tons of books, and it was always so exciting. Mr. Sandwich still gets me books, but no one else does, alas.

  5. Loved all your pictures. It was just the three of us this year, as last year. The mail was absolutely amazing. Quentin loved opening and reading everything he recieved. He got a lot of gifts that were doubled and tripled and that was great, because he has such a generous heart, he gave some of the gifts to some of the other kids that weren’t as fortunate has he was this year. We have several kids here at Ronald McDonald that have cancer for the second and third time and Quentin is very aware that some of them are very sick. Mommy, let’s give her or him that gift I got yesterday or last week. I already have one, maybe he or she would enjoy it. Such a wonderful kid. So, our Christmas was very special. Showing us how generous and giving the world is. Thank you Jess for your blog and facebook posts. You are a wonderful and amazing woman. Thank you for opening up your world to us for a glimpse of your life and family. Have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

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