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December Reminders

searchI flipped the calendar to December and a small piece of paper fluttered onto the floor. A note from me to me. Across the top of the page I’d scribbled CHRISTMAS 2015. Reminders written last year: December 30, 2014.

  1. Treats on the porch for delivery people
  2. No new food
  3. This year’s menus worked
  4. Same gift for all.
  5. Treasure Hunt for older Grands’ gifts
  6. One big gift bag for each Grand

None of these ideas are original. Like most things I’ve ever done successfully, I’ve learned from someone else.

I buy a few gifts that are delivered. If America Girl dolls and men’s coats in tall sizes were available locally, I’d buy them here. Last year to say thank you to the delivery people, I put a basket filled with bottles of water and packaged snacks on our front porch. The UPS deliveryman knocked on the door. When I opened it, he held a water bottle in his hand. “I just wanted to see you. This is the first time anyone has ever done something like this for me. Thank you,” he said. He smiled, waved, and hopped into his truck. The woman who delivers our mail left letters and small catalogs, bundled with a rubber band, on our doorstep the day after she’d chosen a package of cheese and crackers. If you want to leave treats, put a sign in the basket. DELIVERY PEOPLE PLEASE READ and write a note inviting them to choose something; otherwise, they never know it’s for them.

I have to remind myself to keep food simple during the three days that Son and his family visit for Christmas. Those are days that Daughter’s family also eats meals with us. Six adults. Eight Grands. No new food. If the kids don’t recognize the food, they’re hesitant to eat. If they don’t eat, no one – neither the child nor parents nor this Gran – is happy. Thankfully, I saved menu notes that include kid choices: ham rolls, Angel biscuits, chicken strips, sweet potato fries, cut up apples and oranges.

Our Grands are ages six months to 10 years. Their wish lists, which I ask for, are long. Like other grandparents, I’d like to get everything, but I don’t. And I’ve learned a way to make shopping easier. Last year, one Grand asked for a soft, cuddly blanket, so each Grand got a twin size, soft, cuddly blanket. They liked that they got their favorite colors and that their blankets had their names embroidered along the top. (Yes, each Grand got one gift that was only on his/her list.)

After all the gifts were opened last Christmas, my older Grands asked why I didn’t hide the their gifts and write clues for a treasure hunt like I’d done before. I forgot. The gift becomes bigger and better as my Grands follow clues: where you sleep when you visit. Where Gran hides candy. In your baby brother’s car seat.

New this year: I bought 8 identical big gift bags and I taped a Grand’s picture on each bag. No matter the size of the gifts, they go in the bag or a note that will lead to a gift stashed in the garage. And for my four Grands who can’t even read their names, they know their pictures. I’ll let you know if this works.

I taped the CHRISTMAS 2015 note on my kitchen work desk. Reminders to keep this holiday time simple and to focus on people. Isn’t Christmas all about people?

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