If your house is anything like ours, Christmas morning is a frenzied wrap-ripping, package-destroying, gift card-losing free-for-all. Without so much as a breath or momentary pause for pictures, my kids tear through the underbelly of the Christmas tree as though winner takes all.
And every year it rubs me the wrong way.
It’s not that my kids are ungrateful or are necessarily given too much; it’s just that their unwrapping race to the finish is over faster than I can choose an Instagram filter. Think I’m kidding? Last year’s gift opening extravaganza lasted all of eight minutes — including stockings! Sure, the smiles were fun, and I suppose the frenzy was at least sort of funny, but any magic to be found that Christmas morning was definitely missing.
This year, I want things to be different, so I’m gifting my family the following Christmas morning commandments to receive by:
I. Thou shalt wake up before the kids to enjoy a momentary calm before the Christmas storm.
Late Christmas Eve, as visions of sugarplums dance in our kids’ heads, my husband and I will be assembling without instructions, robbing remotes of their AA batteries, and noshing on Christmas cookies and giant carrots intended for Santa and his reindeer. Not only do we deserve to bask by the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree in peace come morning, we deserve to do so dangerously caffeinated.
II. Thou shalt not snap or share any pictures of mom until she’s had an opportunity to put on a bra.
Listen family, I know you’re excited, but for the love of all that is good and wholesome, please give my lady lumps a mere moment to get civilized. I don’t need to be the one putting the “X” in X-mas. (At least not again anyway.)
III. Thou shalt be responsible for safeguarding thine own gift cards.
Gift cards are the most amazing gift ever until ownership gets confused or they mysteriously go missing. So Sharpie that gift card with your name. Stash it in your undies if you have to. I don’t really care what you do with those perfect plastics of possibility, just take care of them. It’s enough that I bought the gifts; I don’t need to be responsible for them, too.
IV. Thou shalt never compare gifts received with those displayed on social media.
If Santa is an equal opportunity giver, why would naughty Johnny get a PS4 while angelic Adam gets a board game? These are things my kids want to know, so instead of comparing our haul with others, let’s focus on the have and never on the have not.
V. Thou shalt at least pretend to admire the wrap job of the gift received.
GIFT WRAPPING IS HARD. It takes time and energy and a lot of tape. It takes wrapping round things, octagonal things, and things that have no business being wrapped. It takes dealing with cheap wrapping paper that tears too easily and getting creative to hide mistakes. Then, it takes hiding it all where no one will think to find it. So please, look at the wrapping! Ooo and ahh over that paper crap. Tell me it looks nice and sparkles like stars in the heavens above before ripping it open like a package of cookies when you haven’t eaten all day. Jeez.
VI. Thou shalt not gift in fear of January’s credit card statement.
We all love giving that perfect gift, but if that perfect gift comes with a less than perfect price tag, it might not be so “perfect” after all. Spend only what you can afford without sacrificing life, limb, or groceries.
VII. Thou shalt proudly wear and/or display any gift given to thee by thine children.
I have been given yellow plastic beaded jewelry on more than two occasions. I’ve been given rainbow hair bows adorned with plastic Christmas lights, SpongeBob tissue box holders, dangerously sharp clay paper weights, Christmas ornaments of glittery basketballs, and so much more, but guess what? I’ve loved it, worn it, and displayed it all because it was chosen or crafted by little hands with great big hearts.
VIII. Thou shalt keep a detailed list of gifts received in order to send timely thank you cards.
Think thank you cards are old fashioned? Think again! By having my children pause to write down who generously gave them what, they’ll be forced to slow down, take a much-needed breather, and pause for gratitude.
IX. Thou shalt appreciate the thought above all else.
Did I really appreciate it the year my husband gave me the exact same necklace as the one I’d been wearing for years? No, but perhaps I should have. Just as Commandment VII suggests, the time and energy taken to select a gift for you matters. Remember: thought above what’s bought.
X. Thou shalt slow your unroll.
Whether you unwrap the bounty in 30 seconds or three hours, the gifts remain the same. Christmas morning is not a race to receive, so let’s all take a moment to let in a little magic, shall we?