This past Christmas (yes, I realize it was over a month ago), we entered a new era in our own personal Christmas tradition. This was the 4th Christmas for the boys, and this year we reached a milestone. I'm sure you are dying to know what this benchmark was. Did we reach the 200 mark on Hot Wheels cars? Did we set a new record on Christmas spending? Did I manage to survive on eggnog and candy canes or 25 days straight? No, it was nothing dramatic, but it does change things from now on.

For the first time, the boys actually ASKED for something for Christmas. As soon as all the turkey from Thanksgiving was put away and we had pulled all of the decorations from the attic, the Christmas advertisements started rolling in. Toys 'R Us, Target, Walmart. Every Sunday brought a new barrage of colorful, multi-page ads filled with just about every toy you can imagine: remote control gadgets, video games, riding toys, Disney toys, toys from cartoons I have never even heard of, girls' dolls dressed like prostitutes (sorry, Bratz, that is pretty much what you look like). For the first time, the boys pored over these catalogs and carefully examined each toy as if they were walking the aisles of F.A.O. Schwarz.

All of this perusing finally led to the big moment: The Christmas Wish. And what did they ask for? A blue S.U.V. At first, I was disappointed because we already have so many toy cars and trucks, we look like a miniature car lot. But the more they described it, I started to realize this was a toy they could actually ride on and not just another toy car. Gina and I already had something in mind for the boys, and we had to discuss this sudden change of plans a little bit. After some going back and forth, we decided that Sam and Nate would only be little boys once, and we went ahead with the purchase.

I will skip ahead to the big day, and I think we were more excited than the boys were. We had rushed back from Shreveport on Christmas Eve so the boys could open their presents at the house, and when they woke up that morning the blue jeep was sitting in the living room. Nate was very excited and jumped right in. Sam was not feeling all that well (nor was I), so his enthusiasm was more subdued. After some driving around in the house, we learned two things. First, this was going to be a lot of fun and we were glad we went ahead and got it for the boys. Second, they have a lot to learn about driving. In that regard, this Christmas is just a glimpse into what we can expect in about 13 years. For now, I much prefer the small plastic car that is driven on the sidewalk.