Our Christmas Day is always a two day affair in our house. That is the benefit you get for growing up German and then accepting American citizenship. :-) Germans celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. I've always loved the fact that Christmas celebrations were held when it was cozy dark outside and the house was lit only by candles or Christmas lights (on the tree and otherwise).
Once I met that handsome and patriotic American, we both changed how we did Christmas a bit. It has changed a bit over the years as well, but here is where we are now:
We have lots of traditions during the season, such as a daily chocolate (German) and activities calendar (American), devotions, decorations, books, music (both German and American), movies, etc. We LOVE Christmas. But that is an entire post in itself.
As for the main days of family celebrations, they are filled with present opening. It wasn't always that way, but since we've had kids, grandparents, aunts and uncles have blessed us beyond rich with gifts and that has never stopped.
My mom used to send ginormous packages for the kids, filled with all sorts of goodies. Years back, one was able to send package via ship and while it took 6 - 10 weeks, careful planners could send a huge package for a mere $10. Now that option is no longer available and the same package costs $50-$60. Having now four grandchildren, that gets expensive quick. She still loves to send ginormous candy packages. The kids love to unwrap those and fall into a sugar coma shortly after. :-) But that is what makes them special... And let me tell you, that German candy is fantastic. Besides, how much fun is it to try a whole box of new candies? Awesome!
Anyway, for her main presents, she sends money now and then we buy the big gifts here.
Sooooo, that means we still have a bit of a time difference. Thanks to Skype, we can be with each other and unwrap each other's presents but we now have to do that on the 24th in the morning in order to celebrate with Oma in Germany on Christmas Eve. No, my kids don't mind not having to wait all day to unwrap presents. They are selfless that way. And Oma required the kids to sing a song, say a poem, read a story, play a song or dance a dance (for Isabelle). This year Nathan played "Jingle Bells" (which Abby had taught him) on the piano while Abby sang and then Abby played some of the songs that her friend Abby M. had taught her during piano lessons. We sang along with her. And Isabelle felt shy so she did an impromptu ballet performance to one of her favorite songs ("Brother" by Needtobreathe - great, great song).
After that, we moved the laptop to the living room and spent time unwrapping the kids' goodies. Nathan and Abby had multiple presents, as theirs were smaller items that had cost less. It was the hardest thing for Isabelle to not get a present. We had told her that she would get one really big one but she'd have to wait until the end. Halfway through she completely embraced it and was happy to bring presents to her siblings. How sweet! I love moments like those when your kid's character shines.
In the end, my mom pretty much bought each one of the older children their wish list. Isabelle got a play kitchen!!! She was super excited (and so was Hannah). She didn't even really notice that she didn't have food and utensils yet. Isabelle played all day in her new kitchen and was blissfully happy - thanks to dad who had spent 4 hours the night before putting it together - while being sick. Let me tell you, it is WONDERFUL when you have your husband for 4 days! He gets full days of so seldom, this was such a treat. Unfortunately he had caught a bug and wasn't feeling great but just having him there, was lovely. The kids utterly enjoyed having dad available.
We relaxed the rest of the day, put together some toys, spent wonderful time with each other as a family. We listened to Christmas music, had candles and Christmas lights on and munched on Grandma's homemade cookies. Just lovely.
In the evening we unwrapped some presents from our friends who had blessed us. We felt very spoiled and loved when we had taken the last pieces of wrapping paper off. And we discovered that Frozen's Anna and Elsa are still loved! How much so, only tomorrow would tell....