It's interesting to me all the "traditional" things people do for a really long time, then get mad/depressed when they can't do those things anymore. I've said it many times, but as a reminder - I grew up in a "split" family, and as an adult, I've been part of one... there are very few "traditions" that we do; we just go with the flow. No "Day After Thanksgiving" *Black Friday* craziness, no specific day to get the tree or go shopping or do the wrapping, no "Santamas Eve box" filled with jammies & a movie, no "Santamas Day feast" (obviously, we eat, but nothing specific that *has* to be fixed/eaten this day), etc. I've found it's much less stressful to do things this way because family dynamics change -- divorce/separation, kids grow up & move out, grown kids have their own families, etc.
Cards were out by early December, but I still felt this season came at me a little faster than usual. The fact that my older two kids didn't have their wish lists to me until mid-December didn't help matters, either... However, the last three weeks went very smoothly. It has been a whirlwind of gatherings, baking, working, shopping, shipping, & wrapping. Packages for my nephew and my "Littles" went out a little later than normal (December 15th!!) so the post office was pretty busy (45m line), but they did get to them in time.
As usual, all three of us got in on the baking this year... but, not usual, I ran out of goodies before I ran out of friends I wanted to bring some to! I had to add a second baking & delivery day! Next year, Ace will bake a "regular" (which a 4X normal batch) set of M&M cookies, another round of Applesauce cookies, and maybe add a third kind to his contribution. I will need to double up on the three items I make, as well... or, maybe Princess can make a batch of something solo (she usually just helps both of us).
For the first time, I decided this year to have a Wrapping Party (since I've had so many friends say something about "hating" wrapping or "just not getting to it" until a day or two before Santamas), but the turn out was not what I'd have liked. Possibly due to the late notice (I only gave two weeks). I had a few people tell me they regretted not coming. SO, next year, I will give a month's notice, and add that they can also drop off a small donation & their gifts, and WE will wrap for them.
We also, as usual, adopted a family in need. I like to choose a family I know personally, instead of just grabbing one of those Tree Angels at the mall. This year, however, I wanted to go bigger than I normally do (I usually set a budget of $100 or less). This family has four children, so I asked my FB friends/family for help. My SIL, one of my nail sisters, and one of my clientfriends all contributed, and we were able to give them $100 to Target, $100 to Fred Meyer, $15 to any Darden restaurant, and $10 for Walmart, plus I gave them a tin of goodies, a new outfit for each of their twins, and had some Gymboree & Crazy 8 coupons.
I *don't*, however, set a budget for our own family. Ace usually tells me "Don't go overboard" but since I've never heard "You've gone overboard", I'm not sure exactly what that means. I'm assuming that if we ever had trouble paying the credit card bills (as a debt-free family, we pay off our cards in full every month), that would qualify... :)
This year, Squeaks needed a new laptop. She contributed about a third of the cost herself and Ace did all the research to find a good one for her needs. He got it ordered, set up a date for her to come over with her old one, and got everything transferred over & set up for her. There were a few other things on her list, as well, so we took care of those. Gamerboy asked for specific clothing items & new pots/pans, among other things. We got him almost everything he asked for, as well.
Princess didn't have a real "list" (as she said, her biggest wish was granted on October 7th of this year -- her adoption!), but she does have both an Amazon wish list and a Wanelo wish list. LOTS of ideas on those. She got a lot of the new clothes she wanted, another cabinet for her silver spoon collection, new boots, a Michael Kors wristlet, etc. The only thing I wanted to get her but didn't is a new office chair for her room (although she can buy one herself with her money/gift card gifts).
Ace was on top of things this year, and took care of 1/2 my stocking (I take care of things like candy, beauty/toiletry items, gift cards, and scratch-it tickets for everyone), plus I got a new laptop (much needed), some clothing items, and a new stamping set for work. Princess got Ace a tee shirt that said "BEST. PAPA. EVER.", and I got him a scope & stand for his rifle, plus some clothes and kitchen stuff. My bestie found the dragonfly bowl set I'd been eying for a couple years, plus sent me a really cute penguin mug, and she sent a Michael Kors beanie for Princess.
Our Santamas celebrations have one more round, tomorrow at my SIL & BIL's house. All of our kids, furry ones too, will be joining us for food, gifts, and family time. I am making the green bean casserole (at S's request), plus we are bringing some baked goodies, and a couple of small gifts for them. The gifts for the older two kids, and the ones from Squeaks to us that she brought over when she came down for her computer, will be brought down as well.
Next week I have a very light work load, so my plan is to spend a couple hours on Tuesday (before my one evening client) taking inventory, making an order list, restocking/reorganizing a few things, and doing a bit of deep cleaning. Same thing at home at some point, too... Gotta get our end-of-year donations taken care of!