May your blogger feeds be filled with recaps & your cups be filled with adult eggnog.

by Beth Anne on December 26, 2013

1528533 10100988783232521 1258713448 n May your blogger feeds be filled with recaps & your cups be filled with adult eggnog.

Santa came with love this year, quietly unpacking with whispers & a moment of collapsing on the couch to stare at the tree. By the fireplace laid Harrison’s coveted “carries cars monsters trucks”, aka a car carrier with monster trucks. He’s been asking for it for months, spending minutes & hours staring in the Target aisles, along with an ambulance & tow truck for his little Imaginext city. He then asked me if Santa shopped at Target & I’m worried we’ve got a Beth Anne 2.0 on our hands (I informed my mother at the age of 5 that I absolutely could not believe in Santa. Too bad, so sad).

christmas1 May your blogger feeds be filled with recaps & your cups be filled with adult eggnog.

1506999 10100988785687601 239783489 n May your blogger feeds be filled with recaps & your cups be filled with adult eggnog.

There were moments of doubt, where I looked at his small pile & wondered if we should have, could have, would have done more. There were pangs of jealousy looking through Instagram feeds full of expensive gifts & massive piles. On Christmas morning, I opened a book I’ve wanted since its release & Harrison gave Doug a new tie for interviews but there were moments where my breaths came too fast, where I let the anxiety take over the magic of Christmas.

There’s horrible, honest guilt in those feelings, felt beside a lit Christmas tree with a happy son & beautiful home. Callaway clubs & Tiffany boxes do not make Christmas, but rather a small boy that had to be wakened at 8am because he laid awake late into the night, listening for jingle bells. In those brief moments of feeling inadequate, I remembered Harrison & his Matchbox cars on the church pew the night before while we lifted candles high in the air.

Simple happiness is a balm for anxiety & can be found everywhere. I just have to take the blinders off & keep my eyes open.

1517575 10100988786266441 96587367 n May your blogger feeds be filled with recaps & your cups be filled with adult eggnog.

After our little family of three opened gifts, we drove to my parent’s house for gifts & breakfast & stayed through dinner. To me, Christmas is simply better with family although there were moments when I craved to be in my own home all day. I wonder if that feeling will grow stronger over the years.

1535438 10100988794385171 1311406190 n May your blogger feeds be filled with recaps & your cups be filled with adult eggnog.

Harry took this picture of me after dinner while we were pulling out dessert & scrubbing china plates. I want him to remember me this way on Christmas Day, encouraging wild silliness. I want to remember that moment he giggled when Doug kissed me under the mistletoe with a laugh. I want to remember my little sister’s face when she saw the powder blue retro bike my parents bought her. & I really want to remember to put 1/3 more sour cream in the mashed potatoes from now on because YUM.

1459826 10100988793971001 723433771 n May your blogger feeds be filled with recaps & your cups be filled with adult eggnog.

I look at these pictures & my heart explodes. Despite my excessive navel-gazing, despite my flaws, Harrison found the real joy in the day.

I think that’s what makes four-year-olds the best.

We hope you had a beautiful, wonderful Christmas. May the coming days be filled with rest & hope for the new year.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

molly December 26, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Girl, I so get it. We have had a couple really lean holidays where the pressure to buy buy BUY nearly killed me. But it looks like you had a lovely holiday. And I swear even after I got the kids what they wanted I found Brigham playing with the leftover cardboard roll of gift wrap!

Here’s to 2014 being a kick ass year for you guys!


Beth Anne December 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Yes, yes, yes. The worst part is knowing the pressure is all ours to own, you know?

Here’s to YOUR amazing 2014 with Sawyer on the way!


Nicole at Mommy Moxie December 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I agree as well-it took a lot this year to remember that it wasn’t all about the amount of stuff, but finding the stuff that meant so much. Funny thing was, around here that was the $20 play kitchen from Walmart (because my 4 year old is obsessed with Master Chef Junior) and the $3.99 play carpet with the roads printed on it that I found at Goodwill and threw in as a “gift “at the last minute for fun.

Your holiday looks as though it was amazing-as Molly said, here’s to 2014 being a kick ass year for everyone!



Beth Anne December 26, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Nicole, thank you. I was so afraid when I posted this that the reaction was going to be YOU ARE SO AWFUL but it is so nice to hear that someone else knows the feeling. (& ours was a $20 truck with a board game that my mother-in-law snagged for $2 a few years ago!)

Merry Christmas :)


Christy December 26, 2013 at 9:38 pm

This is the only blog post I’ve read that hasn’t been full of obnoxious bragging! Seriously, I don’t follow many blogs or instagrams of people I don’t know in “real life”, but I love yours because yore so real. I didn’t get in Instagram until late last night after kiddos were in bed and I was shocked to see ALL the pictures of STUFF. Some people had been posting all day long, showcasing every “name brand” expensive thing they got. Annoying! Spend time playing with your kids instead of posting too many pics for people you don’t even know to see! Sorry, but I just don’t understand… Guess that’s why all my stuff is private. I shared what the kids got and some of my special presents with my family and friends, privately. You’re soon a great job mama, love Harry’s gifts and that he’s figuring out Santa May shop at Target…my 3 year old is figuring it out too!


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 9:50 am

Thanks, Christy. I was thinking it was going to be a total bummer of a Christmas recap but I think it’s important to know that there’s a ton of us that felt that same feeling. & that it’s okay & it will pass.

On another note, I am borderline crying that next year he may not believe. I made the epic mistake of not sweeping out the “reindeer food” he put out (a mixture of oats & glitter a neighbor gave us) & he was like, “HEY. Why didn’t they eat that?” & then the Target comment. He’s too literal for this kind of imagination, I think.


Katie-LovesofLife December 26, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I honestly can say I had the weird pangs of AM I DOING THIS WRONG when I saw people’s overflowing gifts on my feed, too that night. But our 3 gift rule this year felt right. And enough. And it was. :) glad you had a great day.


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 9:44 am

YES. Those weird pangs & you’re like, OH CRAP IT IS TOO LATE TO BUY OUT AMAZON.

I love your 3 gift rule. I have a girlfriend that does that, too. I think it’s wonderful.


Lindsay @ December 26, 2013 at 10:29 pm

I told my husband that I refused to go on social media on Christmas Day because I knew I would get upset by the millions of photos of piles of gifts and “spoiled” being used like it’s a compliment and, ugh, I didn’t listen to my gut instinct and of course spent way more time being annoyed! My son asked Santa for a chair game he saw at the science museum and a rolling pin this year. He got both, and lots of books, and art supplies, and things that he truly loved. And he was SO HAPPY. My husband said “you know nothing could have made him happier,” and I knew he was right. I hate that I let other people make me second guess myself, or make me feel guilty!


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 9:48 am

Yep. I loved looking through my Christmas Eve feed, but I was also like “Self, get the hell off this. It’s only going to cause problems.”

I have been that person showing off my blue boxes & boots & this year…well, I got a book written by a friend. In retrospect, I like that even better.

So happy your son was thrilled with Christmas this year. The rolling pin made me giggle. That is awesome.


Erin December 26, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Ugh, I’m sorry you had even a moment of feeling like you needed more on Christmas, and glad that you ended up having a wonderful day! We have always limited the presents from us/Santa because the kids just seem horribly overwhelmed by all the STUFF and they get SO much from family (just because there are a lot of them!).


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 9:43 am

Thanks, Erin. I hated it because it’s such a character flaw, you know?

& THE GRANDPARENTS. Thankful for them but dude, he got plenty of new toys from Grammy’s house. Including a Shake n’ Go racetrack & I have no idea where I’m going to put it.


Jess F December 26, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Right there with ya. Two years ago my daughter got puzzles and coloring books from the Target dollar aisle. I look back and shake my head about how guilty I felt. She was 2yrs old and was just happy about opening presents. She didn’t know whether it was ‘good’ or not.

This year I planned ahead and scooped up some princess stuff that Target had on sale for 50-70% off! FYI, in September Target gets rid of end of season toys to start rolling out for the holiday season! Only thing you have to worry about is if it will match up with their Santa list!


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 9:42 am

HA! I have this image of you sweating it out waiting for a Christmas list to land when the toys were already bought :) It is such a good idea, though! We were able to snag his Imaginext trucks on sale, thankfully! I snagged them sometime around Thanksgiving when they were a couple bucks off each truck. Every little bit helps!

Also, now that the day has passed I am THANKFUL for the small pile. Right now we are going through & purging & donating his older toys & I cannot imagine trying to find more space for anything else. He has plenty & I am happy for it.


Madonna December 27, 2013 at 8:09 am

It looks like you had a lovely Christmas – filled with love and laughter. You may not realize it, but you are teaching Harrison a valuable lesson about the holiday season… It’s not about the consumerism that goes into it, but it’s the love, laughter, and family. I hit a lot of sales and dollar bins to provide a nice Christmas for our family and friends, and that’s okay. My kids don’t know if the gift was a $1 or $100. And honestly, the boxes have gotten the most use as we pull them around the house while sitting on them.

This year has been tough on my family, and some of that I bring on myself by comparing what we “don’t have” to what others “do have.” And I truly want to change that for 2014. To focus on US and to simplify our life and be happy for others, without having the need to compare or feel guilt. It will be difficult, but I think it will bring me that breath of sanity I’ve been looking for.


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 9:40 am

Yes. So much of this.

& wishing a wonderful 2014 for your family, as well. Full of good change.


Kristin December 27, 2013 at 10:12 am

Last week I read this after it showed up on my Twitter feed:

And it couldn’t be more true. Harrison is going to remember the joy and laughter-and the simple things. Not the big flashy gifts. Gifts don’t make Christmas special, people do. He’s going to remember the goofy picture he took of you-not the fact that the pile under the tree was “small”.

It’s so hard to keep it simple-no matter what the situation is. I struggled this year with all of the sales, but realized that when Benjamin got his $30 Craigslist play kitchen… that was all it took to make his day (and mine-3 hours of solo play from the toddler!!). We enjoyed the last year that he won’t understand Santa-but were able to stop and think about setting up his expectations for the future and what Christmas will mean to him.

Maybe this year was the year to reset expectations-the few, thoughtful gifts, but the more important part was the joy of spending time with family. I hope 2014 brings you joy and happiness!


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 10:21 am

Yes, a perfect reset. What a great way to see it.

& I love that post. What a perfect holiday reminder. I feel like I need to print it out & read it every year.


Em December 27, 2013 at 10:18 am

A lovely post Momma and it sounds like a beautiful Christmas! Memories make
Christmas not the quantity of presents! So glad to see your magical memories!!!


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 10:19 am

Thanks, Em! It was definitely full of memories, like when he would run in circles on Christmas Eve screaming “I AM JUST SO EXCITED!” :)


Jill December 27, 2013 at 10:32 am

Beth Anne, I loved your Christmas post…. and yes you guys made wonderful childhood memories for Harrison He will remember all the love you shared as a family long after the toys are gone. I love reading your blogs…. Have a Happy 2014, Darling!! Love, Aunt Jill


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 10:40 am

Thank you, Jill! We are so thankful for you.


Hannah December 27, 2013 at 10:39 am

You did such a great job making this beautiful for your family.
You’re rockstar no matter the budget.



Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 10:40 am

YOU are a rockstar. Don’t forget it.


Sara December 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

My beautiful friend. Your Christmas looks amazing. And happy. And gorgeous. And blessed. Because you have a wonderful soul and a humongous heart. I love your post and I love you. Here’s to a fantastic 2014.


Beth Anne December 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Don’t make me cry, Sara. See you in just a few days & I can’t wait to squeeze you so hard.


Sara December 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I’m going to squeeze YOU so hard. CANNOT WAIT. xoxo


Sarah K. December 27, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Beautiful photos as always. Merry Christmas!

I had some anxiety too over the small pile of presents. B got a filled stocking and the coveted motorized Rosie from Thomas, with extra train cars and a new winter coat. I was so worried he would ask why he didn’t get more though.

Nope. Getting the one thing he really wanted (Rosie) made his Christmas and he is still happily playing with her, and introducing her to his other trains.

Having our family over for Christmas dinner also made his day, having all the grandparents and his favorite uncle to show his new train to.

Looking back, I can’t believe how stressed I was over the presents.

Little kids are awesome.


Beth Anne December 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm

ROSIE! She’s basically the best & I am dying over him introducing her to the other trains. I think when they get what they really want, everything else fades away. I hope it will stay that way.

Little kids, man. I love them.


Erin December 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I’m one of those who posted the BIG.OLD.PILE.OF.PRESENTS on Instagram the day after, and I hate to think I made anyone feel bad. Honestly, it’s more for my own remembrance and documentation, and it didn’t come from a place of bragging – far from it. I think it’s obscene, even though we contributed to it. But just too many people are buying for our kids and it’s out of control.

The kids won’t remember the amount of gifts. They’ll remember the warmth and laughter and love. That’s what Christmas is about!


Beth Anne December 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Oh, Erin. I almost hesitated posting this because I NEVER want anyone to feel that they did something wrong by my own pathetic insecurities. Your Christmas was beautiful. & believe me, I have had years of showing off Tiffany boxes & a pile that cannot be contained under 1 tree. I know exactly how it is & I think we just need to love Christmas, in plenty & in want.


Suz December 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Merry Christmas! Love the photos & recap. LOL’d at Target comment. My favorite too!


Beth Anne December 28, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Merry Christmas, Suz!!!


Megan B December 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Good for you – for finding the joy. I have done too much in the past. And I don’t say that with the 48 Facebook pictures of piles of toys saying, “Oh, we did too much, but you know. . . ” I mean it. Too. Much. And this year – there were 2 (hand-me-down) Cozy Coupes under the tree for my twins, along with one wrapped gift for each of them, and 4 wrapped gifts for my 5-year-old boy. The thing he wanted more than ANYthing – a Nintendo DS – we got for free (another hand-me-down) from a relative. When he first saw the tree, he looked around and said, “Is this all?” and the pang hit me. But when he opened his gifts and was delighted in each one, I knew we did the right thing. And even in years to come, when (hopefully) we’re in a better position financially, I pray that we keep it simple and small, like this year. I want him to learn that Christmas magic is in family and laughing and telling stories and cuddling under blankets and being together. I’m thankful for this year of less. It showed me how much we really have, you know?

P.S. You are always so real, and I love it. I love your words (!) and your pictures and just all of it. I’m a Carolina girl, too, and I feel we would be “real life” friends if we ever ran into each other. :) (Creepy?)


Beth Anne December 28, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Cozy Coupes are probably the best gift ever & I hope the twins love them! (We finally made Harry give his up since he can barely squeeze in it past 4 years old.)

YES to the wanting to keep it small no matter our financial position. Doug & I talked a lot about that this year, wanting to spoil him with love, not necessarily things. My parents said that growing up, we got to ask for 3 things & we were guaranteed 1 of those. I don’t even remember that, but I wonder if that will be the direction we go as he gets older.

& yes, to it showing what we have. We took our tree down today & I’m sitting here half missing Christmas & half thankful it’s over, so we can get back to our normal routine.

p.s. NOT CREEPY. I think that so often about other people that I know exactly what you mean.


Mandi McClure December 28, 2013 at 11:46 am

Your Christmas sounds perfect. We (rather I) baked Pilsbury Cookies from a package and then both of us decorated. No shame in it at all. Keeps things simple and leaves thing time for the most fun part. If I could have stopped Christmas at Christmas morning where it was just the 3 of us at home and the 4 presents our little guy got from us and Santa combined, I would have. The best thing about this Christmas was the Tristan got it. He truly got the magic and it was magic for us. It’s what I will remember. I’m sure you will remember it too from Harrison.


Beth Anne December 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Yours sounds just like ours, so just as perfect :)


Laura Case December 28, 2013 at 9:20 pm

1. Beautiful post.

2. We purposefully keep Christmas small after some lean years, focusing on a couple of very much wanted items. Christmas with two 7 year olds took a couple of hours because they slowly opened each one, appreciated what it was, and played with it. Totally worth it.

3. We thought we were busted with Nate at age 4 because he asked a lot of specific questions – HOW does Santa make it to every house? The following year we explained Santa only comes to kids who believe and he was a lot less questioning. Alex still believes at age 7 but I think Nate believes because he wants to believe in magic, and I am perfectly ok with that.


Vanessa December 29, 2013 at 7:10 pm

It looks like a beautiful Christmas. The feeling of which will last much longer for him than the memories of the presents.

We, too, had a super lean year. No presents between myself and my husband. Handmade or only one present for adult siblings and grandparents. But three years ago we started the three present rule. It was a relief to know that Christmas morning our children weren’t going to see “less”. Weren’t going to feel the anxiety of all the bills. Weren’t going to have the magic of Santa and presents under the tree robbed by adult responsibility. Three is what we give and what they get. I put on fb that we have been working on the holiday being more about Christ than Mas. Seems like you have done the same beautifully.

But, I get it. And a new chapter is on the way! Clinking a glass for an incredible 2014.


Beth Anne December 30, 2013 at 10:52 am

::clink:: 2014 has to be more awesome.

& I just love that 3 presents. Do you do 3 presents total or 3 from Santa? I have friends that do 3 from Santa & then multiple from mom & dad, & friends that do 3 presents total.


Vanessa December 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm

We do three presents from the family. Last year it was all Mom and Dad. This year it was Mom, Dad and Brother. Santa stuffs the stockings, gets them an ornament and the ONE ohmuhgoshnowayhedidhedidhedid present that you never think you’re going to get. For our older son it was a police car with remote control from Target. It makes it nice and manageable. For giving and receiving. So it turns out to be five presents total, I guess. But T loved hearing which ornaments he got over his (four) years while we decorated the tree. And happily hung his new one and played with his presents Christmas morning. Contrast that to the grandparent house where our son turned into a scattered, tantrum monster because there simply was just too much. It barely fit into our suv on the way home. No joke. Just furthered our resolve to stick to our 5(apparently : ) ) presents.

But you just asked me how many, right? Oops.

::clink:: C’mon 2014 – momma needs a new job.


DadCAMP December 30, 2013 at 12:39 am

Best thing I ever did this Christmas? Turned off my phone and computer for 48 hours. I don’t need humblebrags filling my feeds with excess. Christmas was for me. For my kids. For my family.

Hope yours was too.


Beth Anne December 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

AWESOME, man. I turned off work & that was glorious for me. So glad you had a wonderful Christmas.


Erin December 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

I totally know that feeling of not giving enough! I constantly feel guilty b/c I want to give my kid all the things I never had but then I have to remind myself that I don’t want her spoiled either. She should understand the reason we celebrate Christmas and why Santa brings presents. We got lucky this year b/c we found a lot of toys on super clearance at Target back in August but we were lucky enough she still liked the same things from Aug to Dec! I just have so much guilt that I want to give her the world but at the same time I don’t want her constantly thinking she needs to get everything she see’s just b/c someone else has it. When we get together with family I purposefully don’t ask what kids get or what others got b/c I don’t want to feel bummed that I didn’t get spoiled! Or my kid isn’t spoiled like their kids are! I remind myself that yup, my SIL gets ridiculous jewelry every year & they just got back from a trip to Disney but you know what? They ate pb&j the entire time, didn’t buy any souveniors or do a lot of “extras” and they eat boxed mac & cheese & ramen noodles for dinner…as the “main” dish all the time b/c they can’t afford anything else and they buy their kids 1-2 gifts each b/c “they can’t afford anything else” yet spend hundreds on each other…you & I just have priorities :). We’d rather survive & live the rest of the year than be spoiled on ONE day!


Cari December 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

We had one of the leanest Christmas’s and yet it was by far my favorite of the 8 years of being married! That is after I talked myself out of feeling guilty for not buying, buying, buying! My daughter (4yrs old) told Santa to surprise her (she also told him and the rest of the children in line that he wasn’t the real Santa, but he was nice to help the REAL Santa). Watching her open her little gifts and being so excited made me realize I don’t need to ‘buy-in’ to all of the holiday junk!

Happy New Year!


Kristin at In Between the Piles January 7, 2014 at 9:28 pm

I found your blog through the friend you mentioned in your 2014 post. She was my first blog love :-). Your writing is fantastic – I can only hope to blog as well as you and Diana. Thanks for inspiring me to write more. And, thank you for writing about something that is so important to me – keeping Christmas simple. I pray that I can help to make Christmas a season that my kiddos remember as filled with love and togetherness…not as a stressful, overbooked, present-stuffed holiday. You aren’t alone! Thank you again…


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