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True confession: When my two oldest kids were little, I read aloud to them three to five hours every day. (Well, some of it was devotions and bedtime stories with their daddy too.) My husband worked twelve to thirteen hour days, and I had several small children. So I read. And read. And read.
Through the years, our reading time went down to two to four hours a day. And we all look back fondly on those days—even my thirty-four and thirty year olds still talk about all of that read aloud time. And how wonderful it was to have that much time to read and learn together.
Christmas is over. Time to turn our attention to New Year’s resolutions, back to school plans, and reorganizing from holiday messes.
For some of us blessed with parents who give us money for Christmas, it is also time to turn our attention to using that Christmas money on something we have longed for, wanted, needed, or drooled over. Here are a few things that I have found to be well worth spending that generous Christmas gift on.
This fall we took a family vacation to Florida (all fourteen of us!), so we decided beforehand that due to finances and time to shop (we returned a few days before Thanksgiving), we would give our kids gift cards for Christmas rather than presents (except for our Christmas Eve Plastic Wrap Prize Ball and Grab Bags). As it turns out, my dad was very sick and in the hospital for two weeks, and I was completely tied up between him and working/writing/teaching that I didn’t have a chance to do any Christmas shopping until mid-December, so we were glad we had made that decision early on. (If you’ve read about our plastic wrap prizes and grab bags, you will know that those require some shopping and planning too!)
This is our regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. It is Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies without the coconut. When sugars and butter are thoroughly whipped, these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever.
I have talked at length about our Christmas Eve celebrations, games, food, and tradition. One newer tradition that we began a few years ago with all of our olders (who are now all olders!) is the Pass and “Steal” Grab Bags.
One of the most popular classic Christmas stories that we have read and/or listened to as a family quite often through the years is O.Henry’s Gift of the Magi. In this story, a young, poverty stricken married couple give up each one’s greatest possession in order to get the other person a Christmas gift. It is heart-warming and embraces the true meaning of sacrificial giving.