Wishing you a Happy Chanukah if you celebrate.
With the weight of last week's heavy news (re: potential distant birth relative who wants to take the kids) it's hard to let myself fully enjoy the holidays, but I have gotten a kick out of choosing gifts for the boys... even if they are going to bankrupt us ;-P
This is their first Chanukah so I've had to explain a lot of times to Big Guy that no, we don't wake up tomorrow morning to find gifts waiting for us. And no, you don't get lots of gifts every day. And no, you don't just get toys and fun stuff... some nights you will get things you need rather than things you want. He is having a hard time with the idea that he might get some gifts he won't like.. and an even harder time with the idea of only one gift each night. He also seems convinced he will only get one gift for Christmas and it will be something he doesn't like. I think it's the anxiety of having the holidays with someone other than his mom and not knowing what to expect that are what's making him sound really entitled, selfish and spoiled when the topic of holidays and gifts come up.
Challenging consumerism and money obsession in a kid who you didn't raise for his first 9 years is really, really challenging. Big Guy is completely obsessed with how much money we're spending on him versus his brother, how many gifts he'll get, etc. This kind of thing makes part of me wish I hadn't gotten so many gifts for them and was instead doing what my parents always did with us for Chanukah... very small gifts (mostly practical) each night, something really big and fun for the family (an experience, such as tickets to a musical) on the last night, and lots of opportunities for family activities and charitable giving. Instead, I feel backed into the whole "must make Chanukah as appealing to the kids as Christmas" game, which all Jews know is futile and also cheapens what Chanukah and Christmas are actually about. Oh well, it's our first time having kids at the holidays and we'll just have to feel it out, and eventually create our own family Chanukah traditions that are more meaningful.
Lest you think I'm denying my boys Christmas, since they are not Jewish they will do Christmas at the home of some non-Jewish relatives (which is where Santa will leave their Christmas gifts and we will fill their stockings). I really enjoyed doing the stockings - I bought adhesive foam shapes at the dollar store and they sticked beautifully to the Christmas stockings I bought them at the drugstore. I really like buying little tchotchkes to fill them. I never wanted a Christmas tree when I was growing up, or any of the other trappings... But I always thought stockings seemed so fun. Sometimes it's the little things that are so appealing. I do not believe in mixing the holidays or mixing religions with one another, I think it waters down the integrity of the traditions. However, as long as our kids are not halachically (in the eyes of Jewish law) Jewish, I see no reason not to help them enjoy Christmas.
I am betting by the 8th night of Chanukah Big Guy will have the entire bracha (blessing) on the Chanukah candles memorized, by the way. It's really cute how excited he is about a holiday he didn't even know about until a few months ago!