This is the part of Christmas I like the most. Except I didn't get a fire going this year, so my feet are a little cold.
I'm watching my Christmas present, which we never really wrapped and I "opened" quite early. My wife has her "present" already, a rather nice utilitarian aluminum chair which she has craved for some time. I don't get it, but I don't have to.
I'm watching the King's College Choir on Discovery HD. Their heads are bigger than mine, a fact that has my wife watching TV from the kitchen lately. I just noted that it would sound better on the stereo ..... There.
My wife and I used to do this together, starting around midnight or a bit earlier. We had a lot more presents to wrap back in the day -- my extended family is 4 siblings, each with 2 or more children, and for a while we did real presents for all of them.
They are mostly grown now, so money is the most common present. I bought stuff for only 5 children (not including my own), so there wasn't much to wrap this year, and since I started after midnight I sent my wife off to bed and did it myself.
Christmas shopping for my own children was very odd this year. First, they both wanted to buy stuff for their cousins, which is great, but that meant they wanted to go out with me on every trip. Which was just as well, because they knew exactly what they wanted and they made their lists while we walked up and down the aisles, and it was just easier to buy things right then and there.
Consequently, the only real challenge was to find SOMETHING that they would be surprised at. I managed, maybe, one for each kid, nothing big. In fact, this won't be a "big" Christmas for us, although there are lots of presents, just nothing really expensive (the most expensive thing isn't even 40 bucks this year).
Part of that is that they wanted a few more cheaper items, and part is that our family really doesn't need much, and what we desire we pretty much have already gotten. We are a "recycling" family, which means we buy a lot of used stuff. Not only does that save us money, but it helps keep things out of the trash, and is a better use of our resources. But that also means you don't just see something in September and put it on a christmas list, because it won't be there tomorrow.
So when my daughter decided she was serious about skateboarding, which meant the department-store board wouldn't do anymore, my wife took her to the "play-it-again" sports place, and picked up what I'm told is a really hot couple of boards (you need two boards apparently, one fat one and one thinner one or something like that). She's had those for a while now, I guess in a normal family that would have been the big present.
There are always Legos. However, this year we didn't put any under the tree, and in fact I haven't bought a Lego in a couple of months. But that's because I made some major purchases in the summer and fall, and have lots of unopened boxes waiting for our next big project. I had plans for a large christmas train layout, but events overcame my fantasies, and we just have the old small train running around the tree.
So the boxes of Lego sit on the Lego shelves, and some would have been "large presents" I suppose, if I was giving them away. Maybe for birthdays.
So the short of it is there won't be any shocked faces from the family this year, at least from what I know about. Of course, there are some presents from other family members, and my wife always manages to find something interesting in her travels.
When I was young, I remember christmas, but not so much all the presents. I remember it was a big deal to get things -- money has a way of jading you to that simple joy, when you can buy anything you want it's hard to remember the excitement of getting that special something under the tree. I do remember three presents. The first was a "balloon popper" my brother built for me. I don't know if I played with it much, as I don't remember having a lot of spare balloons about, but it was fun. The second was a nice N-gauge steam engine.
The third was a "remote control" robot. Back in those days, remotes were more of a marvel than today I guess, and I remember my Dad had it rigged up so I pushed a button and the robot rolled out of it's box and across the floor. I don't remember playing with it at all after that, but I remember watching the present side pop open.
For my family, christmas isn't as much about presents, and I think that's a good thing. My kids have more than they could possibly play with, and are still bored, but while we open presents and give gifts, Christmas is really more about the act of having Christmas, than what appears under the tree. We journey to my parents, and spend the day with all the relatives, and we have days off together with no real plans, and we will drive around a look at lights.
The world has many troubles, but this is the time to put them aside, at least for a day or two.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.