In the 14 years I’ve been a Real Plastic Wife Christmas has never been ‘normal’. There was the year we were engaged and Dr. Hubs spent Christmas day in the ER on call. Then the year we literally moved to LA on Christmas day so he could start his aesthetics fellowship a few days later. And then of course after we had kids Christmas suddenly felt like there were all these rules we had to abide by. About 3 years ago we decided to make our own rules and our Christmases have never been better.
We set up our tree and lights on Thanksgiving weekend, decorate the office and we’re done! I try not to buy new ornaments or decor because in reality we have kids and things get touched. Most of our ornaments are the plastic shatterproof kind and that’s okay. This year I let the kids decide what colors to do on our tree and it turned out fantastic with colorful lights and red, blue, and green ornaments. Decorations promptly come down after Christmas…I don’t like entering the New Year with a tree up.
All year long I take notes on my phone for gift ideas for the kids and Dr. Hubs. The kids have birthdays the month before and the month after December so those lists come in handy when guiding family members too! I spend Thanksgiving weekend planning and ordering gifts for the kids and Dr. Hub’s family. My family draws names on Thanksgiving so I get a handy list of 4 people (2 kids and 2 adults) with each of their wish lists so my shopping is easy! I have everything shipped to our house then I wrap it all nicely, package it and ship it to our families. I make it a goal to ship no less then 2 weeks before Christmas. I’ve done it this way for the past 5 years and gifts always arrive on time!
Our staff get the same gift every year and if they don’t like, it too bad! I pick up a nicer bottle of prosecco for everyone and write a card to each person thanking them for the hard work this year. Then everyone gets cash. We throw a party for the staff as well. But at the end of the day I would much rather give them something simple that I know everyone can use. No one has complained so far!
Shopping for Dr. Hubs is a bit harder and I usually head to a few stores in person. He’s not too hard, a few things I’ve gotten him in the past: humidor, a nice bottle of wine, new dress shirts, work bag, pajamas. The girls love to pick out cigars for him and it’s become a tradition to go to his favorite store. The owner of the store knows us and always wraps up their selections nicely for him.
I do my best to steer clear of Target and Costco during the month of December so I try to stock up on a two month supply of necessities for the office and home in mid-November. I also pick up wrapping paper, tape and ribbon before Thanksgiving. I feel like every time we go into a big-box store during December we pick up a nasty cold OR we leave without half the things on my list because the store is out of stock. I’d much rather prepare ahead of time and stay away from the mass of humanity.
We keep our activities during the month of December as simple as possible. The main reason is because December is one of Dr. Hubs busiest months in the Operating Room. Everyone loves to schedule their surgeries so they get the extra time off from work. We’ve even had patients ask if he operates on Christmas Eve (and of course we say no). We carefully pick which parties to attend and spend as much time with our kids as we can. Doing simple actives like looking at Christmas lights, decorating cookies and decorating the house. We don’t do Santa. My dad is a professional Santa and I decided early on it would just be to confusing if they saw Santas and PopPop looked like Santa. The kids have actually shocked people before when they just plainly answer ‘Santa is pretend for us, but PopPop comes to our house’.
We’ve asked both our families to let us have the holiday to ourselves and at first they were a little shocked, then understood that we sometimes only get 2 days to celebrate and relax. We usually see Dr. Hubs family before the holiday around Thanksgiving and my parents like to come to Charlotte after Christmas around the New Year. It works out perfectly and then we aren’t sandwiched with too many visitors. The year Julia was born we had out of town visitors 45 out of 60 days from mid-November to mid-December…that was just too much! Instead we do our best to Skype and FaceTime to fill in the gaps.
Opening presents is very non-traditional because of the no Santa situation. A few years ago Dr. Hubs came home after work to start the holiday break and declared we open gifts right then. It wasn’t even Christmas Eve. But the impromptu nature of it was just perfect. Everything was already under the tree so we just poured some wine and let the kids open and play while we relaxed the evening away. I think we even ordered pizza for dinner that year so we could literally just do nothing. Sometimes we do open in the morning and then it’s just mimosas and big breakfast to follow. But really we don’t set a date or time, rather let the mood decide.
Other then making cookies for the neighbors we don’t do much baking or cooking. A lot of vendors send us goodies as an end of year ‘thank you’ so the sweets and treats are usually coming out of our ears! Because of our busy schedule I keep our daily food clean and simple. Then I’ll make a big homemade meal for a special night. I’ve also ordered holiday dinners from our local market before to keep things easy. It’s usually too much food for just us so I only do that if we are entertaining friends or family.
Bottom line we keep Christmas SIMPLE. There’s very little pressure to find the perfect gift or host the perfect party. I don’t waste time searching Pinterest for recipes or decor ideas. I’m sure as our family gets older we’ll do more activities like going to see the Nutcracker ballet or a concert. But right now we just need the relaxation and down time.
we just stop amidst the Christmas Chaos and count our blessings.