I’ve come to expect Christmas to be a time of intense social stress, and to find myself the day after the event with a pile of credit card bills and a larger pile of noisy, expensive plastic crap cluttering up my house.

I don’t normally like being on the giving or receiving end of expensive gifts, and I really don’t like getting a huge pile of little stuff I would never buy because it’s stuff I don’t like or want me or my kids to have.

This year, however, the loot was good. I feel like a happy pirate.

Rio got a doll she LOVES and has not been separated from since it came out of the box. Plus everything else. I mean, everything. Happily, an everything that included no plastic toys at all.

I got a noisy, expensive plastic toy. My fetch has not been this psyched about a holiday gift since I was about Rio sized.

Martin got a set of guitar strings from my folks (who run a music store) and a Fender Stratocaster to go with them. Anyone coming to the fondue party is strongly encouraged to bring any instruments that play well with a Fender Strat. He may have put it down by then, but I kind of doubt it.

And in the most-lifechanging gift of all, Serena cut her first tooth!

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