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Katy England Katy England
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A lot like Christmas

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Each year Christmas gets exponentially better. The first couple were a blur of the kids not really understanding what was going on or caring about anything beyond the wrapping paper and the boxes that some of their presents came in.

Last year, there was some excitement and some fun to be had during the buildup towards and celebration of Christmas. But this year is different. This year they know. This year it matters.

As we have marked other holidays, the kids have been sharper than razors in picking up on them and anticipating each one. During November, my son asked daily if it was Thanksgiving, and we would ritualistically count down the days.

The kids are involved in ways that were unrealistic in years past searching for a Christmas tree in the woods, decorating it, and even going Christmas shopping for siblings.

Of course, not all traditions make sense. My son chose two helicopters for his sisters (fire rescue and police the guy knows his sisters well), and we got a new star for the tree and a few other gew gaws and lights. He knew he was getting his sisters presents. He knew they were for Christmas but he doesn't understand waiting. They do say waiting is the hardest part well, Tom Petty does anyway.

And it reminded me of when I didn'tgetChristmas. I distinctly remember going shopping with my mom, dad and brother (my sister wasn't on scene yet, so I was under 4). We had gone to a toy store, split up, and met back at the car afterwards. I knew what my mom had gotten my brother it was a light sabre, from the then very popular original 'Star Wars' movies we both loved. Plastic none of these fancy fluorescent dealies you see these days. But I knew he wanted it bad, I knew she'd even gotten him the right color I knew everything. But I didn't understand that all of that was supposed to be a secret.

When I told my brother all of this, I expected him to be happy. No one was happy. He was mad because I ruined the surprise. I'm pretty sure mom thought I did it on purpose to be a brat (which I get, I was a brat), and I was upset because I was legitimately trying to be nice.

And that's a bit of what we're doing this year. Taking them shopping and hoping that when they start talking about the things they picked out, their siblings will be too oblivious to really pick up on it. So far, so good. Though the boy doesreallywant to play with his sisters' presents which will probably be a whole new level of crazy come Dec. 25. But one thing having a few years under your belt with kids brings is knowing that the crazy isn't permanent. Yeah, you'll always be refereeing, but the hardcore crazy simmers down after about a week. Especially if they know you're dead serious about confiscating Santa's gifts.

And there's so much more to it that's fun. Hot chocolate, snowmen (you know, when we actually get some snow), singing carols (and having the girls tell me to STOP!), and the lights. Don't they just love the lights! And they will run around the house and wish you a Merry Christmas with each loop. And it is. Every time.

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