At the beginning of December we sat down with the kids and told them that this Christmas was going to be more about experiences and less about gifts. I think there was some disappointment, some acceptance, and then a general naivete for what exactly that meant come Christmas morning, but really, kids are not that hard to please.
Each of the kids got one gift and stocking from Santa, one gift from Richard and me, and then a gift from each of their two sets of grandparents. It was really nice to keep it simple. We only had to wrap a few presents on Christmas Eve and we didn’t spend too much time unwrapping presents on Christmas morning. This year it was mostly motivated by a desire to use our money on travel and outings, and to minimize the amount of STUFF that we accumulate while we live here because it will either have to be shipped or given away. But it went so smoothly, and felt right, so maybe we will keep this system indefinitely, motivated by more noble things like a desire to be less consumer-ish. Or something like that.
Cameron got a Chelsea football and kit (jersey). It was the only thing he asked for – and Santa came through.
Eli who is still obsessed with all things Egyptian got this game and activity set. More about it later…
Santa brought Mim a tea set – a must for every British girl.
Fireman Sam is a British Cartoon that is the center of Simon’s universe. This is a Fireman Sam fire station with Fireman Sam, Station Officer Steele and Fireman Elvis included.
Tic-tacs are a Bird family favorite.
[Oh my! Her face!] This is Elsa’s coronation dress made by the amazing Baca Hall and Miriam would wear it 24/7 if I let her.
Eli made gifts for each of his siblings- and he made Mim this “chatterbox.” I can’t think of a good way to explain how he customized it for her- so just know that he did. And it was really sweet.
Mim’s one request from Santa was a doll- but Santa really wanted a tea set for Mim. So Baca Bird to the rescue! She is named Brianna, but Mim wanted to call her Annabelle instead. And Annabelle even came to Switzerland with us, being Mim’s constant companion on the airplane.
This is the Egyptian play and dig set. It came as a big block of clay, and then there were archaeological “tools” to “excavate” the ancient Egyptian artifacts out of. Eli had such a fantastic time with it, but it made a wicked mess.
After we sat around in our pajamas all morning and into the afternoon, assembled Playmobil, started new books, excavated a sarcophagus, ate chocolate, listened to harmonicas (both Cam & Eli got one), and were sufficiently lazy, we dressed ourselves and took the kids to Greenwich park so Cameron could play with his new football.
We also took a peak at one last Paddington. #42 – Paddington Who? Designed by Peter Capaldi. (The current Dr. Who.) Sadly, the other Paddington in Greenwich Park was the Gravity Bear, designed by Sandra Bullock, but he was inside the Royal Observatory, which of course was closed on Christmas Day.
And of course- my favorite view from Greenwich Park. Merry Christmas Canary Wharf!
Merry Christmas central London!
I literally had no plans for a Christmas Dinner going into the day, so I just made some rolls, cooked some meat we had in the freezer (that I can’t recall) and roasted some veggies that would have gone bad before our return from Switzerland. It was really quite a dull meal, but we had Christmas Crackers to spice it up!
But Christmas Crackers are not crackers (or what the Brits call biscuits) at all. They sort of resemble a firecracker, they make a big popping sound when you pull them apart, and they have fun toys or jokes or treats inside. (Or all of the above!) I can’t believe this tradition hasn’t made it to the U.S. They were so fun.
Exhibit A: Christmas Cracker
Well I try to be nothing on this blog if I’m not authentic! This picture of our Christmas feast just makes me laugh. There is no fancy tablecloth or centerpiece or any decorations at all for that matter- and to make it worse there is laundry hanging on all the chairs. What was I thinking?! Why did I even take this picture? I had to do laundry on Christmas day to get ready for our trip the next day, and I was running out of places to hang pajamas so they could dry. Such is life.
The people that I love.
It was a really wonderful Christmas that also included Facetime and chatting with family members back home. We are very blessed.