“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”

It’s raining, and it’s 50˚, but none of that matters. It’s Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, it was the longest day of the year. The clock never seemed to move. I remember begging my mother to let me go to bed around six or seven. Tired had nothing to do with it. I was filled with anticipation, and I remember believing sleeping the night away was the quickest way to get to morning and to Santa’s surprises. It, of course, was always the one night I could never get to sleep. I remember having conversations with my brother down the hall while both of us were still in bed in our own rooms. Periodically my mother would yell up the stairs for us to stop talking so we could go to sleep. I used to wonder why she didn’t realize sleep was far away on Christmas Eve. Hers was a silly request.

Every year my mother put a few presents under the tree. Every year my sister Moe poked tiny holes in each present to see what was there. It was during these hole poking days she developed an aptitude for guessing exactly what each wrapped present was. Holes were no longer necessary. One Christmas is legendary. She was going to a Christmas party with Rod, my brother-in-law, and had nothing to wear. She felt a few presents from my parents and found her outfit, felt a few more and found new earrings to match her dress. She called to thank my mother who then became the tale bearer of my sister’s latest Christmas miracle.

We could open one present on Christmas Eve, but we never got to pick the present. We always had to open the pajamas. New pajamas were part of our Christmas tradition.

I can still see the tree at 16 Washington Ave. in its usual corner with the wrapped gifts underneath, the ones from my parents and grandparents, the ones with the tiny holes. The lights in the windows seemed especially brilliant on Christmas Eve. TV Santa, the one from New Hampshire we watched every afternoon, wished us a Merry Christmas, waved and left for his big adventure around the world. We hung our stockings on the railing going upstairs. We had no chimney. We watched a Christmas show or two on TV then we went to bed. Eons later we all fell asleep.

Today is still all about tradition. This morning I opened number 24 on my Advent calendar. It is the crèche scene, the same as it always is. This afternoon I will work on tomorrow’s dinner, and tonight my friends and I will build gingerbread houses, eat some appies and have a drink or two. That’s one of our favorite Christmas traditions.

Happy Christmas Eve! I hope you’re all on the good list.

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14 Comments on ““Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.””

  1. flyboybob Says:

    Like the Kechup TV commercial used to say, ‘anticipation’ enhances the moment of pleasure. During the eight nights of Chanukah my parents kept our presents hidden. Each night another would appear after we lit the menorah. Having to look at the wrapped presents under the tree but not being able to open them must have been an excruciating torture for a kid. If I were a parent I would hide all the gifts and put them out on Christmas Eve after the kids went to bed. This way you can keep the Santa Claus ruse going. Every family has their own traditions.

    Clear skies today after a cloudy day yesterday with some rain. Temperatures are forecast in the 60s but the cold weather is coming next week.

    Merry Christmas.

    • katry Says:

      The presents under the tree weren’t the ones from Santa. They were the wrapped new pajamas, slippers and a gift or two from my parents and grandparents. Santa always came when we were asleep, and he never wrapped gifts ( a huge controversy-does Santa wrap or not?).

      They weren’t super torture as we knew about the pajamas, but we always held out hope we could open a different present from my parents. It would never be.

      I think it is universal for Santa to leave the gifts while everyone is sleeping. My mother held to that all her life. She never put our gifts out, even when we were adults, and she signed all the gift tags Santa. The tree always had plenty of gifts around it as I would put the ones I brought under it when I arrived at my parents’ house.

      We may actually hit 60˚ today!

  2. Hedley Says:

    St. John Fisher Chapel will be dark, save the candle light, the long introduction will bring us to the voices, and we will fill the space.
    “Silent Night, Holy Night” and the tears will flow, they always do.

    Happy Christmas Kat, Happy Christmas KTCC family.

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I too let the tears flow with the joy of the evening and of the day tomorrow.

      The carols will play all day as I go about getting my dinner ready for tomorrow. I’ll sing along.

      Merry Christmas, My Dear Hedley, and blessings of the season.

  3. olof1 Says:

    I can’t remember that I felt the day before Christmas eve felt especially long but they must have. I think the presents were placed beneath the tree as they arrived in our home so I think I sort of got used to have them there. We kids also knew that if we wanted to experince another Christmas we better not go close to those presents 🙂

    We got a white Christmas after all, a dusting is laying on the ground and the temperature is dropping fast now. It will fall to 14F as coldest tomorrow and it will stay cold for at least a week they say. It’s still a bit cloudy but I’ll be able to see lots of stars when I get up tomorrow morning. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to find Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter before the sun rise 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      Santa’s presents were never there until morning, and they were the best presents of all.

      I love a white Christmas and a frosting of light snow would be perfect. We have rain, damp and not festive.

      Have a wonderful Christmas Eve.

  4. im6 Says:

    Merry Christmas to Kat and her entire Koffee Klan. I’d try to offer greetings to everyone in their native language, but I’d rather not make a fool of myself. I do that quite often and quite easily enough without setting myself up for it. Cheers!

    • katry Says:

      Merry, merry Christmas!

      I am working on tomorrow’s dinner then out at 5:30 for the festivities. Gracie is sporting a new collar and has already had one of her Christmas treats.

      Thanks for the music-happy and festive!!

  5. Birgit Says:

    We returned from church and Christmas dinner is in the oven. (Yes, me, the old protestant atheist attended a catholic service again, because my friend sang in the choir. Must be love.)
    We start Christmas on Christmas Eve and I’ll know whether I was on the good list in about an hour. Now the scent of salmon with spinache and thyme potatoes is slowly filling the house…
    Christmas (Surviving Germany):
    Happy Christmas Eve / Merry Christmas to all of you!

    • katry Says:

      I used to love midnight mass. I got goosebumps when the choir sang. Maybe I should think about return visit.

      Lots of people have Christmas Eve get-togethers though it isn’t an official occasion except with the Italian-Americans and their Feast of the Seven Fishes which is always on Christmas Eve.

      Do you also have another big dinner tomorrow?

      Have a wonderful Christmas. Frohe Weihnachten!

      • Birgit Says:

        We’ll have leftovers tomorrow. Usually only one big meal either on Christmas Eve or on first Christmas day.
        Christmas Eve is over now, I was on the good list 🙂
        Finally time and leisure for your old time radio Christmas carol …

      • katry Says:

        My brother alternated with his ex-wife: one year Christmas eve and the next year Christmas day. As he was never into Christmas, he’d bring his two boys to my mothers. When he had them determined when we had dinner. If it was Christmas Eve, we had leftovers on Christmas day. I liked that. It made the day far less hectic.

  6. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Christmas eve was always so long. My parents were caught between the rock of keeping us up until our regular bedtime so we would actually sleep and the hard place of wanting us in bed so they could pull out the rest of the presents and wrap them.
    Of course we always felt that the earlier we went to bed, the faster Christmas would come. My brothers and I also conversed across the hall from our own beds. My father would yell the traditional refrain up the stairs, “Don’t make me come up there!” 🙂

    Merry Christmas to you, Kat, and to all the Coffee family.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I just got home from my friends’ house. The gingerbread houses look great, and we had time for a game, a card game we love: Phase 10. They’ll come here tomorrow.

      I remember hoping to falsely but being far too excited. When sleep finally came, we slept well and long. We were never up at 3 or 4 kids.

      Merry Christmas, Caryn.

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