Nine days out, the holiday tension is getting thick at our house.

Shortly after our tree went up, the girls began making presents for each other and putting them under the tree. They were mostly paintings and drawings, but everything was placed into a gift bag or wrapped in a box so they looked like any other gift.

They decided last week that waiting until Christmas to open them was dumb, so they tore them all open. I’m not sure what happened, exactly, but a few minutes later C. was up in her room crying. Did someone make fun of the gift she made? Or did her sisters not put the same effort into her gifts that she put into theirs? Either way, feelings were hurt.

There’s a lot of that going around, unfortunately.

L. brought home her school-made gifts for us last night, along with a note suggesting we open then right away so they can be part of our decorations. She made us the obligatory tree ornament, a little piece of pottery, and brought home some hot chocolate mix that included marshmallows she decorated as snowmen.

Wound up by presenting those to us, she and C. decided they wanted us to open the gift they had put under the tree for us two weeks ago. They were jumping up and down and yelling they were so excited. So we were very happy to receive a bag full of individual Starburst candies that they had taken from their Halloween stash. Such sweet little girls!

I’m really not sure why they even bother with school this week. Just about every day is filled with holiday activities, homework has been ratcheted way back, and most of the projects they have are fairly small. I guess that would be the case no matter when the last day of school was.

In Elf-related news, I’m pleased to report I’ve stepped up my game this year. Instead of just hiding, Elfie has been doing more silly things this year. Riding horses with Barbie. “Zip-lining” from the window treatments to the dining room chandelier. Playing cards with some of the other stuffed animals in the house.

But my favorite was when I stole an idea I found on the Internet and sat him on the toilet and dropped some peppermint candies into the bowl. I set him up the night before and was careful to use some double-sided tape to make sure he didn’t fall in. Luckily I gave him a quick check in the morning, because he had flipped over and was hanging by his feet over the floor. I quickly replaced him and woke the girls up.

They screamed! Unfortunately, he flipped over again before we left and I had to just remove him from the seat for his safety, or so I told the girls.

Each morning L. has a writing project in class where she draws a picture of something and then writes a descriptive paragraph. She wrote that she found Elie “…on the tolit…” and he “…poopd mintz…” I can only imagine what kind of things other kids write that her teacher has to keep a straight face about each day.