I love Christmas, but what I love more is celebrating Christmas with children.
My children are adults now but I still tell them if they don't believe they, won't receive.
They humour me... or just maybe they are a little uncertain if this could actually be the case.
You see I have been keeping that mystical Christmas dream alive since the day they were born.
There has always been an abundance of decorations around the house (the nativity taking pride of place in the lounge room and another, at one time, on my front lawn until someone stole the cut out of baby Jesus and a couple of wise men from the display).
Each family member has an advent calendar to help count down the days, Christmas crafts are a priority (including building gingerbread houses), evenings watching just about every Christmas movie ever made have always been a favourite and the festive season is not complete without bedtime stories with a particular focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
I tend to completely immerse myself in both the spiritual and commercial aspects of Christmas. It's all part of what adds to the growing excitement as we head towards December 25 each year.
I try to stick to the rule that the festivities and excessive decorating begins on December 1 (sometimes I last until then), but as far as shopping for Christmas gifts is concerned... well it has been a bit of a year-round activity.
This was partly out of necessity - I jump on the after Christmas and end of season sales to help ensure I don't break the bank.
Of course starting so early means that I need to keep a list handy so that I don't forget what I have. The listed gifts also has the amount I have spent on each item to ensure I keep within my budget and there is a fair distribution of gifts. You could say I am a little obsessive.
It is a process that has been diligently followed, even when my children were too young to understand.
All three of my children were born very early in the year so I convinced myself that it would be exciting to have lots of gifts under the tree for their first Christmas. I kidded myself that they would actually have a clue about the festivities come Christmas time in that first year they were born. I think the biggest kid was me.
I wasn't exhorbitant - well that's what I tell myself - books, clothes, a few early learning toys were my go-to gift options and maybe a little keepsake, or two, that I told myself they would one day truly treasure.
Off course as the family grew I was determined to make sure that the newest addition had the same amount of gifts as the older ones who actually were at the age to get excited about Santa coming and what he would leave under the tree.
But when Christmas came around on the year before their respective first birthdays they had no idea...or interest for that matter.
The wrapping paper proved entertaining for a short while but their main priority was to 'goo and ga' for all the family as they were handed around from one person to the next.
As for the special little keepsakes, well even in their adulthood they have no idea what they were, and nor do I.
Quite simply, despite my love for Christmas I could have celebrated those first years with each child in a far less expensive way and still created plenty of memories.
Now, I don't think I would have had the discipline to leave nothing under the tree but I could have pared it back...significantly. One good outfit, maybe a book to read to them (you can never start too early reading books to children as far as I'm concerned) and a learning toy that made a rustling sound similar to that of the Christmas paper they loved so much.
It has taken time...a long time... but I think I may be adding a little common sense to my festive spirit. We'll see when the grandchildren come along.
Christmas can be a wonderful time, nurturing the mystical moments is fun and exciting for all, but you don't need to break the bank creating the illusion of abundance for a newborn.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.