a very happy christmas 2013

I woke up way too early and stayed up way too late on Christmas. It was a pretty awesome day. This is, without a doubt, the best Christmas we’ve had yet.

Christmas 2013


 At my urging, earlier in the season, Kidling wrote a gift list (I’m a big believer in gift lists — I think if someone gives out a list of 10 items to 5 people, then the person is still definitely going to be surprised on Christmas, and they’re going to be surprised with gifts that are actually meaningful and wanted by them). His original typed list said, 

Battlefield 4
Xbox money, or whatever I can get DLCs with
Halo Megablocks sets (any you want to pick)
Punch ’em Sock ’em robots

Over the month, he added the following handwritten requests:

Same equality as an adult
Toys for cats
Toys for Sirius (our dog)
My Little Pony (anything you can get your hands on.)
Money (does not matter on how much, also okay with getting none)
Phone case
New shirts (My Little Pony, please)
New gloves hat (My Little Pony, please)
ThinkGeek stuff

Although we did not grant him the “full equality of an adult” (and I did explain to him that for an 11-year old, he enjoys an unusual amount of household respect), we did get him several other items on the list. Not all, but quite a few. We also purchased a treat for the family — a PS4.


This is posed for photographic purposes. The box was not under the tree on xmas morning.

It was going to be a bit of a financial sacrifice, in that there would be no gifts for me and only the one gift for John that I had been paying for on layaway for the past month, but if we could find one we were sure it would be worth it. The problem was, the consoles were sold out everywhere, and as Christmas crept closer, our allotted spending cash continued to shrink. It was looking less and less like we would be able to get the console, even if we found it.

We had been talking about the console all month, and I suspected Kidling had overheard our conversations and might have his hopes up. So I explained to him that we would not be getting any new consoles for Christmas, because they were out of stock everywhere and we’d already spent too much on presents.

Then my aunt sent us a Christmas check for $1,000, and the next day my husband found the last PS4 in stock at the local GameStop. We snatched it up barely a week before Christmas, and we were able to get some kickass gifts for each other, my dad, my brother, my sister, my aunt, and some close family friends.

We set up the PS4 on Christmas Eve. It’s a really unobtrusive unit. The slim black box is barely noticeable next to the black television and on top of the dark walnut of the bookcase it’s sitting on. We wrapped the controller and Battlefield 4 video game up into one bundle, which we hid in the corner of the couch underneath a throw, away from the other gifts. 

So Christmas morning arrives, and Kidling started opening his gifts.

beginning 3 xmas 2013 beginning 2 xmas 2013 beginning 1 xmas 2013 excite! xmas 2013

Hilariously, and completely unplanned by me, the first gift he opens is a toothbrush. True, it’s a sonic screwdriver electric toothbrush, but it is a toothbrush. A flash of disappointment crosses his face before he quickly hides it and thanks us with a big grin.



From the perspective of an adult who would personally love to have a sonic screwdriver electric toothbrush, but who can remember a time when such a utilitarian toy would seem dull, I was highly amused by his disappointment. I was also impressed with how quickly he covered it up. Don’t worry — as we continued opening gifts, his excitement progressed from fake to very real.

dr whooves xmas 2013 halo exmas 2013

The next dip in his joy was when he opened up a blu-ray copy of Despicable Me: 2. It’s his current favorite movie, but it’s also the exact same shape and size of a video game box. He thought he was opening Battlefield 4 or Skyrim, and instead was holding Despicable Me: 2.

I don’t care how much you love a movie; if you’re expecting and hoping for one thing and you get another, it kinda feels like a bait and switch — especially since Despicable Me: 2 wasn’t actually on his list. Still, he does like the movie, and he cheered up when he saw that there were extra little mini-movies not shown in the theater.

Pictured: Not Battlefield 4.

Pictured: Not Battlefield 4.

So he finishes opening all his gifts under the tree and settled back, clearly satisfied with his haul, but also kind of quiet.

gyroscope xmas 2013

I could tell he was simultaneously happy and disappointed — pleased with his gifts, yet trying to adjust to the fact that there were no video games, which was pretty much all he talked about wanting in the days leading up to christmas. There’s a little shadow of barely-concealed disappointment in his eyes when he thinks we’re not looking.

post gift bliss xmas 2013

So I sit down on the couch to open a present from John, and “pretend” to find a stray gift on the couch. “Oh,” I say. “This one’s for Kidling. How did it get over here?”

I hand it to Kidling, and his lips kind of quirk up in this confused smile. He gives us this sort of, “what’s going on here …” look, and begins to tear at the paper. He pulls out the PS4 controller, but doesn’t immediately recognize that it’s for PS4 — he says, “My own … controller?” (clearly baffled, clearly thinking it’s for the xbox 360 console we currently own, but confused because it feels/ looks different from normal). We just keep grinning as he continues unwrapping and reveals the second part of the gift — Battlefield 4 for PS4. He stares at the box for a second, confused, then looks up with a dawning sense of wonder on his face and asks, “Where is it? Where’s the PS4?”

John started laughing and said, “Look behind you!”

The installed console was right behind Kidling’s head the whole time. He didn’t even notice. He turns around and does this hilarious double-take, and then he began doing a celebratory Gangum Style dance around the living room.

It cracked me up, because his expression was one of perfect seriousness as he performed these dance moves — it looked almost ritualistic, as though he was performing a ceremonial dance for the Gods of Fun and Presents. I would post a video, but unfortunately I took so much video on my phone that morning that my phone memory filled up and the damn thing stopped recording.

That said, here’s a picture of him posing with the game and controller in front of the PS4 menu.

ps4 xmas 2013

All in all, it was a super-fun xmas.

I was talking to John afterward, and I realized that what with layoffs (2001), financial concerns (2001-2009), family death (2003 & 2009), separation (2006), injuries (2007), flooding and house damage (2007 & 2008), foreclosure threats (2007 – 2011), the poly experiment (2009), and drama with extended family (2000-2012), it’s only within the past year or so that we have actually had the opportunity to have a stress-free holiday where we can just enjoy spending time with each other and giving/ receiving gifts.

I guess what I’m saying is, you’ll have to excuse my exuberant consumerism — this is maybe the 3rd holiday season since we got married that our world isn’t collapsing in on us.

The 2013 Gift Extravaganza


  • PS4
  • $1,000 check (from aunt)
  • Candy (from sister)
  • Penguin xmas ornament (from dad)
  • Homemade cookies & candies (from family friends — personalized gifts listed individually)


john3 xmas 2013 CaptureJohn

  • Kawasaki KLR soft luggage (saddlebags, tail bag, handlebar bag)
  • Nautilus air horn for motorcycle 
  • Wüsthof Classic Nakiri & Chef’s Knife 2-piece knife set
  • Tankbot
  • Ramen bowl, spicy ramen noodles, Japanese mango soda, and “sciencey stuff” (a geyser tube with mentos, for cola + mentos, and touchable bubbles) from Kidling
  • By Any Means, by Charley Boorman & Motorcycle Touring in the Pacific Northwest
  • A new wok and some nice chopsticks
  • Ghost pepper plant
  • Stocking: Assorted candy, a marzipan pig, and Christmas Peeps
  • Off the Beaten Path, Ed. 2 (from family friend)

For Me

bigbear xmas 2013 nook glowlight xmas 2013

  • Nook Glowlight & foldable cover
  • Blu-Ray of my favorite animated Disney movie, Robin Hood
  • Desired kitchen utensils (spatula, pastry brush, etc)
  • Mochi (3 packs), box of Cherry cordials, Pocky Sticks (2 packs), Chocolate-Banana bar, box of Marzipan sticks. (from Kidling)
  • Owlet kitchen timer & Owl stackable measuring cup set (from Kidling)
  • Stocking: Assorted candy and marzipans
  • Fictionary and Me: Stories of My Life, by Katharine Hepburn (family friend); bamboo purse (from sister)


CaptureAustin2 CaptureAustin1

As AWESOME as all the gifts were, the thing that really infused and made this holiday season one to remember was the time spent with loved ones, the reconnections, and the complete lack of seriously debilitating stress.

This holiday season, I reconnected with my brother (and hopefully soon nephew!), who I’ve missed very much. We spent Thanksgiving (and hopefully started a new tradition!) with some very dear, amazing, and thoughtful friends. We were able to spend some one-on-one time with our friends Edie and Chelle, as well as their families. We had the time, leisure, and financial security to pay it forward for much of the generosity, kindness, and assistance given to us in the past by helping those in need. Above all, we were able to enjoy a stress-free holiday where we could focus on each other and have fun.

I’m so grateful for my family. I love them so much, and this was a wonderful cap to a pretty good year. In 2010, I started joking to my husband that we had dealt with so much shit over the past decade, we had earned one year of absolute peace and quiet. As we enter 2014, I look back with gratitude on the last year of relative peace and quiet, and I look forward with hope for another low-key year full of friends, family, and good times.

beginning 4 xmas 2013


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