When I was a kid, after much negotiation with our parents, we were allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve and the rest of our presents on Christmas day.
As an adult, I don’t have to wait. I open them as they come. In fact, I used this amazing three tier rack which was this year’s Christmas present to me from my MIL to hold rolls, cornbread, and zucchini bread at Thanksgiving this year because she does her Christmas shopping early. Similarly, I told DH I wanted a better reading lamp situation and he got me this amazing floor lamp that does everything I wanted and doesn’t even require a hole in the wall or a headboard for the bed (my favorite part: the way the light switch lights up when I fumble for it in the dark). I have been appreciating it for weeks now. I have also been enjoying downloading my shiny new kindle book presents as they come– I will read them through our holiday travel.
#2 is different– she likes surprises and opens everything on Christmas morning. I know this because she always thanks me via IM on Christmas. (See also: her birthday.)
Of course, what one does as an adult doesn’t necessarily translate into what one forces on one’s children. Part of the magic of being an adult is that you no longer have to do what your parents tell you to do, but before then you mostly have to. So that means since the kids have gotten old enough to understand Christmas, we’ve generally been saving their Christmas presents for them to open on Christmas morning. Given our in-laws’ generosity, this can get overwhelming.
This year we’ve got complicated travel plans. On the 23rd, we’re taking the kids to the city where they will stay at my sister’s with my parents. Then we will join them on the 24th. Then on the 25th, we’re getting on a plane to visit DH’s family. I asked my mom if she wanted to see the kids open their presents from her (she’s already sent them via the magic of Amazon) or if we should open them before heading into the city. She said whatever was easiest, noting that we shouldn’t have to drive presents all over the place or leave them at my sister’s. So we’ll be doing some of the unwrapping on the 23rd. DC1 will be able to pick out which new books to take with hir while traveling, something that will make life easier for everyone. Then there will be more presents on the 25th since my in-laws have decided to ship the kids’ presents to their place rather than ours (which itself brings the logistical hassle of getting stuff back home).
This past Saturday I let DC1 open the present from my mom that I knew was a Rubix Cube because zie had gotten so good at the computer version that I thought maybe it was time for a real one. Zie has been spending every non-chore moment this weekend messing up and solving and messing up and solving again. (In fact, it’s likely that the ~$10 Rubix cube would crowd out time spent on the ~$250 handheld Nintendo thing that my MIL is getting hir if zie opened them the same day!)
On the one hand, I feel like spreading things out allows each gift to be appreciated and to give me maximal pleasure. On the other hand, it does take away a little bit of the magic of Christmas. But we do always do the stockings (full of candy!) on Christmas even if some of the other presents get pushed earlier. And maybe the magic of Christmas should be less about gifts and more about family, I dunno.
And of course, poor DC1 gets showered with even more presents just a few days later given hir holiday birthday. This year we’re traveling on hir birthday so we’ll probably celebrate with cake the day before with the in-laws and maybe with my sister on the day. We’ll see. We will leave hir birthday presents from us* and from my parents to be unwrapped when we conclude our travels.
*My sister claims this violin tuner is really a gift to ourselves…she’s not wrong.
When do you open gifts– as soon as you get them, or do you wait until the celebrated event (be it a religious holiday or your birthday)? Has it changed as you’ve gotten older? If applicable, do you enforce the same rules on your children?