Grandparents from both sides spent Christmas Eve night and were around for Christmas morning and the chaos that ensues with a 3.5 year old who is very enthusiastic about PRESENTS.
I would say that this is the first year where LO really got the whole Santa/Christmas/presents thing and, wow, everyone who gifted her went a little bit overboard. It took hours for everyone to open all the presents, even with LO's enthusiastic help in tearing into the paper. (Side note: is my family the only one which also wraps the stocking presents?) Next year we're absolutely going to attempt to cut back.
LO's top 3 presents were the Corvette Stingray power-car which was a surprise from Santa, the rocking horse she had been asking for (out of the blue, I have no idea where that idea came from!), and the Octopod which had been the only consistent item she pointed out in any of the toy catalogs she looked through (an excellent & quiet way for her to spend time, btw).
Growing up, my mother always cooked a huge dinner on Christmas, starting shortly after the presents had been opened and spending the rest of the afternoon and evening in the kitchen. We still have a large dinner, but do it Christmas Eve (we do not do services) so food on Christmas Day is a mix of leftovers, cheese & crackers, and breakfast foods which get picked at for probably longer than is healthy. Oops.
My parents stayed through Friday and took LO home with them for a few days to give us a little break. Ames & Ig are 100% correct that 3's behave better for adults who are not their parents! The in-laws went home Christmas afternoon. On the day after Christmas my Mother and I went shopping and I finally admitted that one of my biggest challenges as a parent is that while LO has many of my features, her personality is much much different and it's hard for me to see things / anticipate things / generally understand her actions or perspective. Not sure how to fix that but I suppose like most things it's one that is a continuous process of trying with a solid mix of successes and failures.
Plans for 2014 include a trip somewhere warm - St. Lucia or Antigua - for DH and I in the spring. We are in agreement that we could not survive as a couple without regularly scheduled time for just the 2 of us to reconnect without LO or work or any other every day distraction. I can't help but feel sorry for any parents who do not get that chance to get away. Or maybe we need lessons in how to reconnect without that distance? We are lucky to have the resources in both familial support for childcare and finances to make it happen.
Oh, here's a picture of the post-Santa, pre-morning present extravaganza: