This morning as I sip my coffee, I cannot help but remember the fervor of Christmas Eve when I was a child. Let’s face it, my Dad was a big kid and Christmas brought out the kid in him even more.
From my child’s perspective, not much happened during the day on Christmas Eve other than perhaps cooking. The real magic started as the day faded into dusk.
Of course we would always have our tree up before Christmas Eve. We had real trees for years and white pine, holly and mistletoe to add to the decorations.
My Dad loved lights. Oddly, his preference would have been to have the entire house strung in blue lights, but that never went over with the rest of the family. Maybe that was when he fell in love with his silver artificial tree with the blue ornaments and color wheel. I wrote about this before and a fellow blogger kindly gave me permission to share her photo.
We always went to church on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. Afterward, we all came home and the pacing at the windows would start. Everyone always hoped for snow on Christmas morning. Our parents would then shuffle us all to bed, but we were so wound up, it was nearly impossible to go to sleep. As the youngest, I was often sent to ask my parents if Santa had come yet to which they replied something like “No and if you don’t go to sleep, he won’t come!”
That may have been the reason we started sleeping ‘crossways’ in the bed with my grandmother on Christmas Eve. All four of us kids would get into bed with my grandmother in the middle, laying our heads to one side of the bed and our feet to the other instead of to the head and foot of the bed. As a grandmother now, I don’t know how she did it – it had to be pure love.
Christmas morning was always a delight. In looking back, I remember a few presents I received, my Chatty Cathy doll, a pink and white table and chairs, and my flute one year. I guess it serves as a reminder that the memories are nestled firmly in the love we shared rather than the things we received.
At some point in time, our family started opening gifts on Christmas Eve. We still went to church, and in later years it was just a short service my father started of singing hymns with each person lighting a single candle as they exited the church. It was a beautiful sight to see the procession of candles, especially if the weather was warm enough that everyone could walk home rather than drive.
When I had my own family, I always waited to open gifts on Christmas Day. Sometimes, my children would get to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but that was it. Of course when all is said and done, it is not about the gifts at all.
This year we will be spending a quiet Christmas, just the two of us which is unusual. But with circumstances as they are, that is just the way it has unfolded this year. We will, of course, talk and video chat throughout the day which will be nice.
Today, I will put on some Christmas music and go about wrapping gifts, remembering the real reason we celebrate this holiday. I will lose myself in the fond memories and count my blessings. I am thankful I have a husband who loves and cares for me to spend this very special day with. It will be small and quiet and perfect in every way.
From our home to yours, Happy Holidays!