“Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age.”

When I was a kid, I knew today was the longest day of the year. It had everything to do with anticipation. Clock watching never helped. The clock’s hands took forever to move from one tick to the next, and every tick seemed to echo. Usually it was too cold to go outside and play so there was little to do to while away the hours. We’d watch television, and we’d watch Santa Claus, who had been on TV every afternoon for a few weeks from a station in New Hampshire. He’d be winding up his TV career, loading his sleigh and saying good-bye to all of us. As soon as it got dark, we pretended to be tired, but my mother knew. We just wanted to go to bed early hoping we’d fall asleep so the night would pass quickly. Supper was light. My mother always had the big dinner to prepare the next day so mostly we had sandwiches and sugar cookies for dessert. The tree looked especially beautiful on Christmas Eve. It was lit the whole day.

I remember one year on Christmas Eve my mother sent me to buy some ingredient she’d forgotten. I rode my bike to the red store. I couldn’t believe my mother had me doing an errand on such an important day. It just wasn’t right. Christmas Eve was too special for a simple errand.

If we were lucky, A Christmas Carol, the perfect movie for Christmas Eve, was on TV in the late afternoon or before dinner. I have never tired of watching Scrooge and his redemption. This year I have seen two different versions, both excellent: George C. Scott and Alastair Sim.

Just before bed, it was time to hang the stockings. They were red with white cuffs. Our names were on the cuffs and had gold glitter on them. The bannister was a small one but we managed to fit all four stockings. Though we didn’t have a fireplace, we never worried. Santa would find a way.

We’d lie in bed and talk from room to room until finally we’d drift off to sleep.

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21 Comments on ““Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age.””

  1. Caryn Says:

    Morning Kat,
    Another early day.
    Christmas Eve was an odd day. The day itself passed as usual. We always had things to do to fill it up. My mother sent us outside to play, if at all possible. We had the woods and fields around us to get lost in.
    After supper was different. We always tried to stay up later just in case Santa came early. Sometimes our parents would let us, in hope that maybe we would wake up later in the morning. Hah! πŸ™‚
    The tree was lit and all the other decorations were up. No stockings were hung. Santa brought those. Christmas music would be playing on the hifi. But eventually we were sent off to bed where we did not sleep. My brothers shared a room and I had my own room. We would talk across the hall to each other because it was Christmas eve and who could sleep? My father would yell up the stairs for us to quiet down because Santa wouldn’t come if we were awake. Eventually we would drop off to sleep.
    We’d wake up at 0:darkthirty AM to find our Christmas socks all full with presents from Santa that we could play with until our parents finally woke up and we could get to the serious business of opening wrapped things and having a huge breakfast.

    It’s still dark but I guess it will be sunny today. I have one errand to do or Rocky won’t have anything to eat. After that I am back to cozy mode. πŸ™‚
    Enjoy the day!

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Yup, another early day. This is a habit I’d rather break.

      Christmas Eve was always more exciting than Christmas Day as we were always so filled with excitement. More than not we were in the house driving her crazy.

      It’s funny you wanted to stay up late while we wanted to go to bed. We knew Santa would never come when we were awake.

      We always woke up in the dark as well. The first thing we’d see was our stocking now filled to the brim usually with a small doll hanging out of the top. The first look at the tree with all the toys under it alway opened my mouth in amazement.

      I have my friends coming over tonight so we can decorate our gingerbread houses. I’m having 3 appetizers: a red , white and green one! We always have a lot of fun.

      Have a great and cozy Christmas Eve!!

  2. Bill S. Says:

    I was awake at 3, got up at 4. Last night we had 12 here for dinner/Lisa’s birthday/Kevin and Becky’s Christmas, as they won’t be here on Tuesday. They are having her family over. I finally got to drink the blueberry wine you had given us–I can’t believe I drank the whole thing (or did I?).

    Tomorrow we will go to Peg’s dad’s house for Christmas dinner. Her other sister from Maryland and niece will be there as well. More eating and drinking–when will it all end?? I have a physical schedule for January–that should be interesting.

    • Kat Says:

      Such festivities!! Lots of people for dinner, but I bet it was delicious. I think a glass or two or three is just right for the holiday. I am making my famous egg nog for tonight when friends will be over for our gingerbread house decorating, a yearly event.

      Tomorrow I’ll go to their house for dinner and presents.

      I figure this is the time of year to make most merry!!

      Merry Christmas to you and Peg!!!

  3. Y’know something–my ‘kids’ (ages 15, 17, 20 and 21) are not that much different from when they were MUICH younger. They still seem to enjoy the holidays with the same joy as when they were in grade school. I often wonder what memories they will bring to adulthood. No matter–it’s all great!

    • Kat Says:

      I think they’re already bringing great memories to adulthood. You can tell by how much they still enjoy Christmas.

      I have always loved Christmas and still marvel at the tree at night and I always take a ride to see the lights. The best parts of Christmas always stay with you!!

      Merry Christmas, maurice.

  4. Birgit Says:

    Dear Kat and KTCC family,
    may I add a classical Hallelujah on Christmas Eve?
    Ladies First Barbershopchorus – Hallelujah (by G.F.HΓ€ndel):
    (The unnamed chorus who also sang Cohens Hallelujah)
    Have a great festive day !

  5. Bob Says:

    Time always goes slowly when anticipating something important in the kid calendar such as birthdays and Christmas. As an adult Christmas loses its anticipatory excitement because the adults have bought all the gifts and know that many of them will have to be returned. “Oh, look another battery operated blender”. I will have to send aunt ____ a you note telling her how much I love the blender. It will go back to the big box store on the 26th along with all the other junk that distant relatives have carefully chosen, wrapped and sent which you don’t need, want or have room to store. Gifts from relatives that haven’t seen you in years are like the pink, footed, bunny PJs that Ralphie received from his aunt in the movie “The Christmas Story”. Most adults have way more junk in their house than they need and don’t need another ugly Christmas sweater that you only wear on Christmas Day if you are not going out in public. I think it would be better for adults to make a charitable contribution in the name of the relative instead of buying another battery operated blender that they will never use. It’s more in line with the spirit of the holidays.

    My parents always allowed my sister and I to hang up stockings on Christmas Eve and they filled them with candy or small gifts. If Chanukah came early that year we had already opened our gifts and had long tired of playing with them. Some times the Jewish calendar aligned with Christmas Day and we opened that night’s gift on Christmas Eve. My parents didn’t want us to feel left out. We didn’t go so far as to have a Chanukah bush. My wife came from a more reformed Jewish family and she had a blue and white stocking with a star of David on the top to hang up on Christmas Eve.

    • Kat Says:

      Nope, it doesn’t ever have to be like that. Buying Christmas presents means finding just the right gift. I shop for Christmas all year. If I find something which I know will be perfect for a friend or a family member, I buy it right then and there and put it into my Christmas box and then mark it on the list I keep in the box so I’ll know what I have. Knowing the person well is the key to finding the best present.

      Making gifts is also wonderful. I used to needlepoint them all the time, but aging eyes make it less fun than it used to be.

      The stockings were always wonderful, even when I was an adult. My mother was the best of all at stuffing stockings.

      • Bob Says:

        You are the exception!

        Most people are not that organized nor that thoughtful. Everything else is just crass commercialism. I still like the idea of giving a gift to a charity that the relative supports. Of course that also requires that you know the person very well πŸ™‚

        Have a very happy Christmas Eve

  6. olof1 Says:

    The most important part of the day is over, I’ve just watched Donald Duck and his friends πŸ™‚

    Im almost all families this was the time the Yule Gnome came and gave us our presents. I hated that moment since I was so scared of him πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I changed my traditions slightly this year, I opened my presents early today and now after Donald Duck I’ll eat. I’ll post a link to an article (in English from a wb site called slate, found it on FB) that describes our fascination for Donald and his friends further down.

    Still I haven’t seen one single Christmas movie?! They’ll start showing them later today, they know there’s nu use sending them before Donald or after when the gnome comes πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Have a great day!


    • Kat Says:

      That was a great link. Now I know the whole story of Donald, Disney and Sweden.

      Iceland has gnomes also, but they are around all the time, not just Yule, and are called the hidden people.

      Not many Christmas movies yet today though I keep looking.

      Have a wonderful evening!!

      • olof1 Says:

        Our gnomes are around all year too, but they are as rare as farmers these days πŸ™‚ Our Yule gnome is more of a mix between Santa and our old gnomes.

  7. Cuidado Says:

    The Merriest of Christmases to you, Kat, and thank you for day after day, bringing us your wonderful blog and the family it has created. Best wishes of the season.

    • Kat Says:

      Thank you so much!!

      I also wish you the merriest of Christmases and am glad you’re part of the family!

  8. Hedley Says:

    And the snows came, more than we expected and we have a white Christmas. Father Jerry welcomed the faithful and we celebrated

    Happy Christmas Kat, a Mah to all of us πŸ™‚

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      A white Christmas makes the day even more beautiful.

      Tonight my friends and I decorated ginger bread houses and enjoyed each other’s company while Christmas music played. It was a wonderful evening.

      Happy Christmas to you, my friend.

  9. MT C Says:

    Again late as is my usual.

    The night before was busy as usual. This year we had five of W’s friends over from his work for Eve’s dinner. Of course there was no imbibing here as to get caught with alcohol carries heavy penalties and these gentlemen cannot afford that. So they had to put up with my cooking dry. Which they seemed to take rather well. I think it was Izzy’s traditional Filipino spring rolls that were the real hit. Next to the rhubarb cake, which was consumed in less than a blink when it was presented. Then came the joke gifts, always lots of fun and these guys really went out of their way to have some good ones. All, of course had to be explained to the outsiders (Izzy and I). But they had a good time with it. For them, without their families, it was an evening of distraction, an early night away from the work, sleep, work cycle they are on for 11 months out of the year. And it was good to see that no one had ‘work things’ to discuss.

    It sounds like your really enjoyed your Christmas this year. And I am glad you did. My favorite part is my memories, which I mostly keep to myself any more, as the younger crowd quickly tires of ‘ancient history’. LOL

    And now with Christmas out of the way, we can look forward to the next biggie, out with the old and in with the new. So that I am not once again late for any reason, I will wish you all the best in the New Year. Have a Happy New Year, Kat. I know you will bring as many happy memories in 13 as you have in 12.


    • Kat Says:

      It sounds as if you had a wonderful Christmas. I think I too would have dug into the Filipino spring rolls and helped the rhubarb cake disappear even a bit more quickly.

      My Christmas Eve was also spent with friends at my house then today they were the hosts at theirs. We exchanged gifts and had a great dinner.

      I remember the first Christmas without my family was when I was in Ghana in the Peace Corps. I expected to be bummed by the holiday, but we ended up having a party as quite a few volunteers were passing through my town on their way north to Burkina Faso (Upper Volta then) and Mali. We had a great time and even sang carols.

      Happy New Year to you as well. May it be the best of all years!!

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