Posted tagged ‘Christmas Eve’

“At Christmas, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ makes me cry in exactly the same places every time, even though I know it’s coming.”

December 4, 2012

Today is warm and beautiful with sun and a lightly clouded sky as its backdrop. The dog and I are going out though we have no destination, but a day like today should never be wasted so we’ll wander until something catches our eyes.

Gifts are on the bed upstairs in the guest room and in the cellar. I’ll start bringing them here to the den so I can spend evenings wrapping. I’m still waiting for one order of cards to come in the mail then I can write out my cards and send them. The tree and the inside decorations are next and then comes the baking. I have a list of what I want to make, and my sisters have put in their requests so I just need to grocery shop. Christmas is on its way.

My family has many Christmas traditions, most from my mother, but some from me. My sister Moe’s kids each got a piñata from me every Christmas starting the year they had turned three. My sister would attach their piñatas to the stair railing, and they’d hang down into the family room. On Christmas Eve, after dinner, it was piñata time. The kids loved opening all of the little presents and by bedtime they were exhausted and would sleep all night into the morning. A few times my sister had to wake them up to let them know Santa had come. My nephew Ryan has a six-year-old. On Christmas Eve his son Ryder will whack at and open a piñata for the third time. His aunt, my niece, carries on the tradition.

My mother used to send us each an Advent calendar, and every morning I’d hunt for the date so I could open the little window. I’d find candles, elves, decorated trees or toys, but I knew on Christmas Eve morning I’d find a manger scene no matter what the Advent calendar looked like. One year I sent my sister’s kids a calendar with chocolate behind each window. My nephew figured out how to open the bottom so all the chocolate would fall out, and he ate every one of them, all 24 pieces. The next year they got the traditional calendar, no more chocolate. After my mother passed away, I started sending one to my sisters every year to keep the tradition going. Last year for the first time I send one from on-line and did the same this year. The calendar is animated with beautiful scenes and lovely music. My friend sent me one, and every morning it is the first thing I do on the computer. I have decorated a tree, made and dressed a snowman and today I watched alpine skiing.  I’m thinking the 24th might just have a manger scene.

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

December 22, 2011

55° on December 22nd just doesn’t seem right. When I went to get the papers, I stood a while outside and took in the morning. We have sun and blue skies for the first time in days, but it all seems wrong. Where’s the snow? I should be seeing my breath and be clad in wool from head to toe. I’m sure it sounds like complaining, and I really don’t want winter as I’m loving this temperature, but it’s Christmas time. It’s sleigh bells ringing and Frosty dancing. It’s even the first day of winter. Mother Nature is behind her time.

Every kid counted down to the big day, Christmas Eve. The lucky ones, like us, had advent calendars which let us know how many days were left without having to ask. I swear that’s why my mother started giving them to us. We just counted the unopened windows and knew how long. Later, when we were older, we did the math. I have to admit that still being in school until the 23rd helped. We were forced to be busy so the days went more quickly. Christmas Eve is the longest day of the year, not the summer solstice. Just ask any kid.

I don’t remember the specifics of most Christmas Eve days except night was a long time in coming. I bet we drove my mother crazy. It was never a day for us to play outside or wander. It was a close to home day. The TV was always on in case there was a Christmas show, just what we needed to heighten the excitement. We wondered what Santa would bring. Would he follow our list or be creative?

We always got a new game or two for Christmas. As long as I can remember, we were a family of game players. Learning to play cards started with war then we worked our way up to more complex games as we got older. My parents, figuring they had built-in partners, taught my brother and me whist. We also played all sorts of board games either sitting on the living room rug or at the kitchen table. Santa always left the games front and center under the tree leaning upright against other toys. They were often the first things we saw. I don’t remember asking for games on my list. They were Santa’s choice, but we never complained.

I still try to give a game at Christmas. It’s one of those traditions meant to be carried on year to year. The one change is we just can’t manage sitting on the rug to play. It’s too hard to get up.

“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.”

December 15, 2011

Today is cloudy, but a few patches of clouds are backlit. That’s where the sun is hiding. The day is damp as it rained during the night, but it’s warm, the last warm day for a while. I went to UPS and sent the packages for Colorado on their Christmas trek. That was the most important item to cross off my to-do list. The other items have no time constraint other than the big day. My back is a bit iffy today so I’ve decided today is my do little or nothing day.

I remember one Christmas Eve when my mother sent me to the corner store, probably for bread. I rode my bicycle so there wasn’t any snow. I remember riding my bike down the grass hill beside the steps leading to the street, something my father always hated us doing, but it was fun so we did it anyway hoping not to get caught. I was going to the white store, the closer store. I never minded doing bike errands for my mother, but I was annoyed that day. It seemed to me my mother was taking the day far too lightly. I couldn’t believe that she would actually send me to do an errand on Christmas Eve. I thought it odd she didn’t realize Christmas Eve is one of the sacred days for kids, not a day for errands. It was a day for dreaming and for hoping to fall asleep as early as possible.

When it got dark, we always got restless. We watched the clock and waited. My mother let us open one gift on Christmas Eve, and that one gift was always new pajamas. Every year we argued that we should pick the gift, but it was inevitable that we’d get stuck with the new pajamas.

Back then Santa Claus was on TV every day in the late afternoon starting a few weeks before Christmas from a station out of New Hampshire. He was in his workshop and had one elf. Every Christmas Eve, the last show, we’d watch as he filled up his sleigh and we’d listen to his reminder about being fast asleep before his arrival.

Bedtime was never more welcome than it was every Christmas Eve.

“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus!… There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.”

December 24, 2010

I remember being giddy every Christmas Eve. The minutes passed like hours. By four o’clock I was ready for bed figuring the earlier I went to bed the sooner Santa would come. I had nothing to do all day so I paced a lot, read for about two minutes, looked out the window hoping to see a snowflake and shook the few wrapped packages under the tree. The pajamas were easy to guess. Each of the other packages sported a small hole on the side where my sister Moe had peeked. She made the hole small hoping no one would notice. We all did. I wanted to be surprised so I used every bit of the restraint in my young body not to look.The wrapped packages were from my parents. Every Christmas Eve my mother would tell us we could open one, and we’d run to pick out the package, but she’d hand a package to each of us. We’d groan and moan because we knew it was new pajamas. It always was. I figured my mother wanted us looking good for the morning pictures. We’d complain and ask to open a different one, but that was a battle we never won.

This was one night my mother never had to argue with us about our bedtime. First we’d hang up our stockings on the banister. We didn’t have a fireplace but long ago my mother had explained that Santa could get into every house, and we believed her. After all, Christmas is magic. The stockings were hung by age so mine was at the top. My stocking was an old one my mother had bought when I was toddler. It has since disappeared, but I remember it well. It had silver glitter and my name was written in black across the cuff. When I was much older, I thought the stocking small. When I was young, it seemed to hold a million surprises.

We’d get into bed but falling asleep took forever. We’d talk across the hall to one another trying to guess what Santa might leave for us. My mother or father would yell up the stairs and tell us to go to sleep. They always reminded us Santa wouldn’t come if we were awake, but sleep evaded us for the longest time. I don’t ever remember falling asleep. I only remember waking up and hurrying down the stairs on Christmas morning.

Don’t forget to leave out the cookies and milk!


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