We decided to do something a bit different for Christmas this year.

This has really been the most difficult Christmas I’ve ever had as far as gift-buying is concerned. The kids are at an age where they don’t care anything about toys anymore. They have all the game systems. If they want something, they do chores, save up their money, and go buy it. They couldn’t even think of anything they wanted. They mentioned they needed new jeans. Sweet. That’s helps.

It was getting to the point where I was just angry. I felt like it was my job as a mother to make Christmas special, the way I’ve always done since they were old enough to know what Christmas is.

I just couldn’t swallow waking up on Christmas morning without having all the fabulously wrapped gifts and awe and wonder and surprises under the tree. You have to understand. My mother used to wrap all our gifts complete with professionally curled ribbons and flawless wrapping. I suppose that was part “single mom guilt” and part perfectionist. She is, without a doubt, a perfectionist in every fiber of her being.

What I’ve come to accept is that as your children grow and mature, so must your traditions. And that I am the opposite of a perfectionist.

So, this year, Christmas has matured a little. We decided that each of the four of us were going to buy everyone one gift, so that on Christmas morning, everyone will have three gifts under the tree. And we didn’t go Christmas shopping until today. TODAY.

We did give the boys the amount of money we normally spend on them at Christmas and they received money from other family members.

So when we went to the store to do our shopping today, I fully expected them to want to try to get away with spending as little money as possible on everyone else and buy themselves ridiculous amounts of candy and flashy electronical crap with their giant wad of cash.

Because that’s what I would have done.

Because I did that once.

Once upon a time, when I was in 7th grade, I made a wooden soap dish in shop class. That same year for Christmas, my stepdad took us Christmas shopping at the mall. He gave us some money and we were supposed to go buy our mom a Christmas gift. So what do I do? I go to the cheap store and find a wooden bar of soap that has the word “SOAP” carved into it. BRILLIANT! So, my mom got a wooden soap dish and a wooden bar of soap for Christmas and I pocketed $18.75. It was probably the most ingenious idea I had ever devised up until that point in my life. And to this day, my mother still keeps her soap dish and bar of soap right there next to her kitchen sink. Needless to say, I got a serious, well-deserved tongue-lashing from my stepdad that year.

Obviously, I expected as much from my beautiful offspring.

Little did I know, my gorgeous spawn would have royally kicked my 7th grade ASS.

Separately, without conferring with one another, and without a thought as to what big/little brother was buying him, they willingly and excitedly forked over almost $100 on their gifts for each other. I didn’t know what to buy them. They didn’t know what to tell me to buy them. But they knew EXACTLY what to buy each other. And they did it with more gusto and tingly gift-buying revelry than I’ve been able to muster all damn year.

Now I just hope that as they’re patting each other on the back and giving high fives on Christmas morning, they don’t hang me from the ceiling fan with their new jeans.