This was the first year I had all my gifts done weeks ahead of time. It gave me an odd sensation of… I think this is what they call ‘relaxed.’ Also, Charles, Dad and I limited our gifts to under $20, which was wonderful. It was big enough to get them something fun but took all the pressure off to get the absolute perfect thing. Whatever that is.

It was also the first year that Gus was excited about Santa. I don’t have enough words to say how magical this was for me. On Xmas eve he put out cookies and brandy (it’s an Australian thing) and a pear for rudolf. He also wanted to hang a sticking for Santa so that he got a present too (in this case a drawing of Santa). In the morning I could hear him wake up and hum to himself a bit as he lay there in bed. Suddenly he remembered and yelled out, “did Santa come?!” we said we didn’t know and to look at the bottom of his bed for a present (another Australian thing). Silence for a moment and then “There is! There is! He came!” Then he brought the present in and opened it in bed with us. It was lovely.

We had breakfast and opened the rest of the presents at Dad’s where we also had the tree.

And then went to Kristi & Bill’s for dinner. They gave Gus his first ever pirate sword -which I had fretted and googled and talked with other parents about for weeks before. We finally came to the position that extremes in either direction weren’t for us. To ban them would give them more power and he wasn’t being violent with it in any case. But we also didn’t want weapons to be no big deal. I wanted to signal that they’re not just any toy. So we have strict rules (no hitting people,

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