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Dec 1: I'm ready for Christmas this year. We're just going to get a few gifts for the kids, nothing big. It's all about family, right?!?!?


Dec 2: Maybe we can get them each something special. What's special to a 2 year old? Five year olds like ponies right?


Dec 3: We can't get a pony. We barely have a backyard. And I might need a permit for that.


Dec 4: Maybe a...WAIT IT'S SYLVIE'S BIRTHDAY TODAY. What Christmas gift can I give to her for her birthday?


Dec 5: Crap! Now I have NO PRESENTS for her.


Dec 6: Spend 3 hours googling, saving items to my Amazon wishlist, and forwarding them to Matt for review. Phew...I have a few good ideas.


Dec 7: Get a call from the grandparents asking what they can give the kids. Send them my Amazon wishlist. Back to zero - AGAIN!


Dec 8: Christmas is about magic. My kids NEED magic. Wait...can I give them actual magic. Can I hire a REAL LIVE MAGICIAN to visit us on Christmas?


Dec 9: That idea I had yesterday was crazy. We can just bake cookies and top them with sprinkles - that's enough magic for a 2 year old. I'll let the 5 year old run the mixer - that's like magic.


Dec 10: Is this the year we go to Disney?


Dec 11: No. No, it is not.


Dec 12: But we could go on a trip, maybe somewhere warm. Jamaica...yeah that would be nice.


Dec 13: But two kids on a plane - that's not cheap.


Dec 14: Maybe we can go on a ski trip. We could go to Vermont.


Dec 15: But I don't ski.


And on this goes on until ...


Dec 23: I ONLY HAVE PAJAMAS AND BUBBLE BATH FOR KIDS! I MUST DRIVE TO TARGET NOW. I head to Target and walk up and down and up and down the aisles hoping to be inspired by something...anything...come on Target, you can do it! I pick up a few toys and put them in my cart. Finally, as the 15 minute store closing announcement is made I see it - THE GIFT. I struggle to pick up the box. It's big, so big that it doesn't fit in the cart, it just rests on top. I put all the other toys back. I'm pinning all of kids' Christmas hopes and dreams on THIS ONE GIFT. The kids are going to love it. And Matt's going to love that it was on sale. I'm getting excited for Christmas now!


Dec 24: After the kids go to sleep, Matt and I spend 3 hours assembling THE GIFT. At midnight we realize we have no way to wrap it and no bow big enough for it. I spend the next hour making a custom bow for THE GIFT. We finally get into bed around 1am. Just as I'm about to drift off, I realize that I NEVER PUT THE COOKIES AND MILK OUT FOR SANTA! I jump of bed, run into the kitchen, grab a random plate, find a few cookies, take a few bites out of the cookies and put them on the plate. I grab a glass, add milk, and chug milk. I set the plate and cup near the tree and sprint back to bed. And finally fall asleep around 2am.


Dec 25: At 5am I hear the kids stirring. They run into our room yelling, "It's Christmas! It's Christmas! Santa was here!!!!" The kids run out of our room and straight to THE GIFT, screaming and laughing with delight. The kids spend the rest of the morning playing with THE GIFT. I settle down next to them with my coffee in hand, a small smile on my face, giving myself a pat on the back for finding such a great GIFT.


Dec 26 - Dec 25 of the next year: THE GIFT sits in the corner while the kids play with...


...the box.


This story was based on true events.

© 2019 by Karyn Novakowski, Documentary Family Photographer