Santa had a big surprise for the kids on Christmas morning. He hangs a white sheet in the stairway to signal that he's visited the house, but also to ward off any peeking. At just a few minutes before 8am (thankfully!) the boys awoke and were hanging out at the top of the steps. Kevin and I got our coffee, got the camera, got Meredith and let them loose.
Except, there weren't any gifts in the living room like there normally are. All that was there was a plate of mostly eaten cookies and an almost empty glass of milk. The looks on these kids' faces was of complete shock. But there was also a letter. Santa told the kids that as he was peeking around our house he saw that we had finished our basement and wanted to put gifts down there because that's probably where they'd be playing with them. Smart guy.
Downstairs, the "fireplace" was roaring and there were three gifts for each of the kids, just like Santa's last letter had said he'd leave. Three gifts, like the Three Kings: something to wear, something to read and something to play with, which is what Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh was for Jesus, right?
All the kids got a Reds shirt: Meredith, this cute capped sleeve top that looks like a girl's shirt without being pink; and the boys each got a shirt with their last name on the back, but with their favorite player's number (Lou = #27, Scott Rolen; Ben = #4 Brandon Phillips; and Charlie = #31 Jonny Gomes). They were a hit! (Sorry about the pun.)
How much fun is it that '80s toys are popular again? The boys were pumped for their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures. These are so different from when I was a kid--the turtles are leaner and more ripped. Meredith got a whole playset of doll stuff: crib, stroller, diaper bag and accessories, high chair, and a baby doll.
Santa also left a "family gift" of air hockey. This has gotten lots of use! Charlie has improved his skills so much that he can beat Kevin fairly easily.
For the "reading" portion of the gift, Meredith got a favorite of mine and, as it turns out, one Lou and Ben love listening to at school: Where the Sidewalk Ends. Charlie got a book about a little race car and part of the book is a race track that folds out and has a track that a mechanical car can race on. Louie and Benny both got a book of "1000 things to do" including crafts, drawing tips and a section with 3-D drawing, complete with glasses!
This is the first year Santa has brought the "Three Kings Gifts." We talked a lot about how Christmas is Jesus's birthday and not all about Santa, which they knew but it was good to reinforce, telling the stories around Jesus's birth. The letters Santa wrote to the kids were neat, and I think it helped their understanding of what the holiday is all about. They also were very excited in the "giving" part of Christmas this year. They each made gifts for each other, which I'll post more about later.