Christmas Eve is most often associated with high excitement. When I was a small child, it was waiting for Santa Claus, and Christmas morning. Later, it was helping to make the holiday special for the younger children. As a young adult with children of my own, the anticipation rose from the desire to make their Christmas memorable.
In my little family, we had a few traditions. My daughters could open one present before bed on Christmas Eve, and it was always new pajamas. That way, they’d be well turned out for Christmas morning photos. Stockings could be gotten into as soon as they woke up in the morning; all other gifts, even the ones unwrapped and perfectly visible under the tree, had to wait until everyone was up. Gifts were well thought out, but not excessive.
I did not believe in going overboard at Christmastime. The girls always received a doll, and a stuffed animal. There were books, puzzles and a game the whole family could play. New blankets, sheets or sleeping bags would be wrapped as gifts when they were needed, just like socks and underwear. If a new winter coat or boots was needed, and if it could wait for Christmas, it would be wrapped and under the tree.There was always a new outfit for school, and the Christmas Eve pajamas.
Still, I was raised in a large family. With nine children, even a modest Christmas looked excessive, when all the presents were arranged under the tree. So, there was usually a point on Christmas Eve night where I felt my own Christmas didn’t measure up. More stuff was necessary, I would decide, long after the time I could do anything about it. Many Christmas Eve nights found me desperately sewing or crocheting “just a few more things” to make the display more impressive.
I miss those special days, with young children and the magical spirit of the holidays. What has replaced them, though, is special in its own way. This year, I traveled mid-December down to meet my daughters and their families for our Christmas celebration. That forced me to have all of my buying and wrapping done far ahead of time. It was a wonderful gathering, a good chance to see everyone, and a perfect celebration.
I came home glad to be able to settle in to my cozy home for the next few months, and happy to be home for Christmas. Tonight, the house is bright with candles and Christmas lights. I have a pot of soup simmering on the stove. The dogs are dozing on assorted chairs and cushions behind me, and I think I’ll settle in with a holiday movie. This is a perfect Christmas Eve!