I have a pretty vivid (pre-kid) memory of going over to a friend’s house who was already a parent on Christmas Eve. While we sipped beers, she and her husband frantically wrapped presents and assembled toys. Their family tradition is that Santa brings all the toys and they arrive only on Christmas morning. So, that meant a lot of prep time once the kids were tucked in. If I remember correctly, in my house Santa filled the stockings and left you one “big” present out under the tree. At my husband’s house, Santa’s presents were wrapped with special paper so you knew which ones were from him. I’ve heard that sometimes each kid will get their own wrapping paper so they know whose is whose.

It’s getting pretty close to the big day now and my husband and I have still got some figuring out to do regarding how it works with the big guy. I’ve been asking around to other moms and it seems like everyone has different rules about Santa. Our oldest daughter is three years old, so I consider this the first year she’s really paying attention. I’m conscious of the fact that whatever tradition we decide to go with we will then be stuck with for several years, so we need to really think it through. Do I want to be up all night wrapping presents the night before Christmas? Absolutely not. This would drive the planner in me insane. We’ve also got to get the story straight and communicate it to family, so they’re on board too. I think we’ll go with how my parents did it – stockings from Santa on Christmas morning and one big present from Santa, the rest from Mom and Dad. I want to get some credit for those great gifts too! Also, we travel on Christmas Day, so that makes it even more complicated! We’ll be celebrating our immediate family’s Christmas a week early. If you’re traveling on Christmas, it’d be a lot of work to take all the presents with you.

And then there are the stockings. What do you put in stockings? My Parents Santa always put toiletries in my stocking. I got lots of floss, toothpaste and other useful things. He also put in some small toys and treats. Nothing was wrapped in my stocking, but I’ve heard of some parents who wrap each little gift. Sounds fun for the kids, but like too much work to me! Does Santa fill the parents’ stockings too? In my house he did because I was an only child and there were only three of us including my parents.

Then there’s the issue of opening presents on Christmas morning. At my house we always went from youngest to oldest. We used this rule with my small immediate family and then also with both sides of my extended family. You open your present, show it to everyone and say thank you and then it’s the next person’s turn. At my husband’s house it’s a free for all. In their defense, there were four boys so it would take forever if they took turns. But they’re adults now and it’s still chaos. I don’t love it. I don’t get to see people, especially the kids, open the presents I’ve so lovingly picked out for them. And now that I am a parent, I don’t really get to see my kids open all their presents and note who each one came from. Last year we were packing up our presents and I didn’t even realize one was for my daughter and she didn’t remember either. I like taking a moment to focus on each gift and the person that gave it to me – that’s just my opinion.

I guess I can just go with the flow on stockings, presents and Santa this year. It’s not what’s most important on Christmas. But I do feel the need to be consistent, as my daughter seems like the kind of kid who is going to poke holes in this whole Santa thing at an early age. Since she’s got a younger sister, I’d like to keep the magic alive for as long as I can.

What were your Christmas morning traditions growing up? What do you plan to do with your kids on the big day to make memories?

On a side note, my cousin sent my three year old a personalized video from Santa and she LOVED it – so at least I know the magic is there for now.

12-13-13 Santa Cry