Santa Might Be Late. Or Really Early.

E has to work on Christmas this year. I realize in the scheme of Ways The Military Can Screw Up Your Holidays having to work on Christmas Day is pretty minor, but it’s the first time this has happened since having kids. (Funny enough, neither of us can remember if it happened BEFORE kids – Maybe once? I know it happened the very first year we were dating but we weren’t spending the holidays together then.)

I’m really glad he’s not deployed. I’m glad it’s only a 24 hour watch. I’m glad we have some family visiting so our day can still be special. But I’m a little stumped on what to do about Santa, whether I need to hire a real beard Santa or not.

The way our day(s) would go if E didn’t have work is: Christmas Eve service at our church, open one present before bed, wake up at 7 am, open our stockings, open our gifts, make pancakes, eat way too much chocolate, have some sort of Christmasy dinner, get really bored and whiny, fight over new toys, put on fresh jammies (since we’re probably still wearing the ones we woke up in), go to bed.

This year we have three options.

1. Santa comes early. One of us sneaks all the gifts out and fill the stockings while the other loads the kids into the car for church and we open everything before bed on Christmas Eve. The major problem with this plan is getting the kids to GO to bed. They are sooooo tired in the evenings now that they don’t nap and I’d expect at least a couple meltdowns during the gift-opening, followed by major over-tired hyper energy boosts that keep them up until 11 pm. But in the morning they’ll have all the new presents to play with and we can still have pancakes.

2. Santa comes late. The kids can’t read a calendar, they don’t know what day it is. So we go to Christmas Eve service, put them to bed, and when they wake up it’s just a fun Play With Grandma and Grandpa day. I put out the gifts after they go to bed and we have normal Christmas on the 26th. I’ll let the kids open their stockings while we wait for E to get home and then he jumps right in to presents. We can all spend the whole day together, complete with pancakes and Christmas dinner. But on the 25th of December we won’t celebrate anything and I’m not entirely sure that won’t bum me out.

3. Early morning Christmas. E doesn’t actually have to be at work until 9 am (AT work, which means he has to leave here around 8 am) so we could potentially get all the major Christmas activities done before he goes in. We can wake the kids up at 6 am for stockings and presents (if they aren’t already up from excitement). Then the kids can play with their bazillion new toys all day, we can have something casual for lunch, and they can go to bed at the regular time. ALSO maybe possibly after they go to bed I can sneak off to see Les Mis alone, so I can sob my eyes out without judgment. We can do a Christmas ham and all the side dishes on the 26th if I work up enough energy, but I wouldn’t mind terribly if we skipped it for some pizza. The down side is the rush to get everything over with before E goes in to work – do we want to make it a race to open everything as fast as possible?

I realize this is an insanely first world problem – “Oh noes! My kids are getting SO MUCH stuff for Christmas we need HOURS to open it all! We might not get pancakes together! So tragic!” – but I’m trying to figure out how keep Magical Christmas magical for the ginger bebehs.

What would you do for your family? Option 1, option 2 or options 3?

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31 Responses to “Santa Might Be Late. Or Really Early.”

  1. Mackie says:

    It wasn’t until I was 34 and had my own children that my mom casually mentioned we had christmas on the 26th for 3 years when I was little. I don’t remember anything but the wonderful Christmas morning with all my family. My dad was a fireman and 3 out of 5 Christmas he volunteered to move his Christmas morning because he knew he could fool us. And I never suspected a thing. It makes me smile because I was complaining about Christmas logistics as well.

  2. Carol Davis says:

    The date doesn’t matter, it is the ones you are with that will make Christmas magical.

  3. Amanda says:

    This was a possibility for us this year so I have done some thing and had tentative plans. We were going to do Santa only gifts super early christmas morning before duty (Santa only brings one big gift and stockings so it wouldn’t take too long). From there we would have christmas gifts with my parents when they eventually arrive and probably takeout for dinner. Then on the 26th we would do the rest of Christmas with the big breakfast, mommy and daddy christmas gifts for the girls and our big christmas dinner. Basically the holiday would just get spread out over a few days. I planned on bringing cookies and probably dinner to Brandon on duty and any of the guys that were stuck there too.

    • bebehblog says:

      Oh, we could even decorate cookies on the 25th and swing by work to drop them off for the guys. Maybe. I’m entirely sure where exactly E works or if I’m allowed there.

      • Amanda says:

        I can’t go to Brandon’s office but when I drop off coffee or sweets he meets me outside the building and jumps in the car for a minute or two to chat and give the girls kisses. It’s not the same as if he worked somewhere where we could go see him but it means a lot to him that we do what we can.

  4. I would definitely pick the 26th as an option if I were you. I think the rushing and the pre-bedtime meltdowns would suck, and the kids will have no idea that it’s the 26th. Is there some kind of special Christmas activity you could plan on the 25th so you won’t be bummed? I am sure you can find something amazing on Pinterest to occupy you guys while E works! Also maybe consider going to a Christmas day service instead of Christmas Eve, just to mix it up and keep the “church the day before presents” feeling, if that is what you’re going for.

    Also, lol at the putting on fresh jammies. We hang in the Christmas Eve jammies, like the heathens we are :)

  5. Tara says:

    I like the idea of doing Santa only gifts before your husband leaves on the 25th, then you can do the rest of them the next day and get to spread out the celebrating! My husband might have to work Christmas as well this year, so we will probably do it on the 24th. I think it would be so hard to get the kids in bed if I let them open presents in the evening!

  6. Joanna says:

    I would honestly do Christmas on the 26th. I really think your kids are still young enough to where they won’t know the difference. Christmas Day would still be really special because you can talk Santa up all day long.

  7. I would totally do the 26th. We’ve been thinking about doing the same if somehow I end up in the hospital over Christmas. Three year olds can’t read a calendar. As long as you build it up just as much as you would Christmas Eve, they totally won’t even notice :)

    • bebehblog says:

      I was SO WORRIED about having a Christmas Due date with Caroline, I think I planned at least 4 different back up options. As much as I love a holiday baby I REALLY didn’t want to be in L&D on the actual day.

  8. FourInchHeels says:

    My dad was a pilot and spent maaaaaany holidays away from home. We just held the holiday on another day, and all was well in the world! I still got presents, and the fun was spread out over more days. You have the added bonus of the kids still being too little to realize it’s not actually the 25th when Santa came:)

    Bottom line – they won’t care if you move Christmas. Do what is easiest for you and E, and lets you guys have the family joy and fun you want. And don’t beat yourself up about it … whatever you pick will be fantastic!

  9. Audrey says:

    Maybe move it to the 26th but find some other way to make the 25th fun? Christmas movie marathon? Last minute cookie decorating fun the kids can join in on?

  10. Amy says:

    I would do the 26th and agree with Audrey about doing something prechristmasy and fun on the 25th. Cookies? Gingerbread house? Paint the sliding glass door with christmas scenes? (My family did that annually. It is AWESOME. I need to find photos and post them.)

  11. Susan says:

    The 26th. If the grandparents are around on the 25th, they can give their gifts to the kids and you can still sneak out to your movie. The date doesn’t matter – but E having that time to be there with the kids is. He works very hard for your family – honor him by waiting.

  12. Eileen says:

    TECHNICALLY Christmas lasts 12 days, and it just starts on the 25th. So I vote do something like Stockings on Christmas Morning and big presents after he gets home on the 26th, or everything on the 26th.

    • Erin says:

      Great point!!! Why do we have to rush things? I wish we (by we I mean Americans) would stretch it out for all 12 days. But of course, if all the buying is already done, then so is the holiday right? We move onto the next occasion to sell more crap before the holiday is even over!

      • Eileen says:

        I totally extend Christmas, not the gift giving, but the rest of it. But I also don’t decorate until 2 weeks before (YAY TODAY) so I’m not sick of it come January. So this weekend up go the lights and the tree. And they’ll stay up til at least Jan 6th.

  13. molly says:

    My hubby has to work on Christmas too. And he has to leave the house by 6:30 so an early day won’t work either. Boo. This has happened before and we just had our Christmas a day early. No big deal. The kids didn’t know any better. And the next day they had more Christmas presents to open at my parents. Yes, it does suck. But the medical profession does this too. Apparently, people are sick on Christmas day. How dare they?!

    • bebehblog says:

      I had my emergency kidney stone removal on Thanksgiving Day 2 years ago, so I am extremely grateful medical staff DOES work on holidays. xoxo

  14. My husband is working on Christmas day so we’re just planning on doing everything on Christmas Eve night for the boys.

  15. Robyn says:

    I’d do it on the 26th. The night before sounds like it would be disasterout for bedtime. And the kids have to miss a lot with their dad already. I’d wait and give them the whole day with him. Like other posts said, the kids won’t know what day it is. And when you tell them when they are older, it will be a great example of how important your family of 4 is to each other and how it just wouldn’t be the same without all of you there for the whole thing. Personally, I hate having to rush through holidays and don’t really get hung up on the actual date on the calendar…it’s more about the feelings and activities than the date to me.

  16. Erin says:

    I like the idea of having the kids open Grandparent’s gifts on the 26th. Then you could spend the day on the 25th doing more Christmas Eve type things (I always feel like the whole thing is over before it’s even started anyway). You could add some kind of fun bonus Christmas tradition like Gingerbread house day or something like that. It will be fun getting to spread out the gifts and get to see the kids be excited to open them to days in a row. By the way, if makes you feel better, Reid already found his big Santa Christmas present. (Darn him for being able to open closet doors now!) Try explaining THAT one to a three year old! :) (another first world problem for you — “My kid accidentally found the most expensive thing that we bought him for Christmas. No all that’s left for a surprise are the boring things!”)

  17. Erin says:

    It sounds like the problem is more making about keeping things magical for you! And I totally understand that!!! I wish I was there with you. I would help you make it magical by drinking lots of wine and entertaining you with my antics :)

  18. Brigid Keely says:

    Your kids totally and entirely won’t notice if you move celebration days around, so do what feels right and important to you and your husband.

    We’re lucky that this year the 25th is a Tuesday, which is a day Nesko goes into work late, so he’ll be home Christmas Eve evening and Christmas Day morning for breakfast and the stocking. And then we’ll do more actual gifts in January according to the Eastern Rite calendar.

  19. Tarrant says:

    My parents did option 3 one year when my dad had to work Christmas day. I wasn’t scarred for life. In fact…he had to be at work earlier and my older sister and mother went back to bed leaving us to play.

  20. Meghan says:

    I agree the kids probably won’t notice what day you celebrate. So with that I would do whatever would be easist/most enjoyable for you and your husband. I would be bummed out myself not to do anything on the 25th, so I agree with the other suggestions of trying to make that a fun movie day or something.

  21. Jennifer says:

    My husband works Christmas day as well. He has to be at work at 9am. My kids always wake up super early, so we are doing presents in the AM. After that we plan to spend the day with friends (no family nearby).

  22. PinkieBling says:

    I vote for option 3.

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