December 23rd, a most under appreciated day. Few people say they can’t wait until December 23rd (unless it’s your birthday, anniversary, or some such event). Children are looking forward to Christmas Eve and Santa flying overhead. Parents are usually busy doing last-minute shopping or wrapping, or getting ready for the big day. But do they care what day it is, other than it’s NOT Christmas Eve or Christmas? Probably not.
In our house, we are as busy as everyone else who celebrates this holiday. We usually spend it chasing cats from the Christmas tree, last-minute shopping for spoilables we couldn’t buy in advance, wrapping presents, cooking, and enjoying the crisp winter air. Dinner is usually something quick, as we plan to spend the next day cooking (and sampling) annual Christmas favorites. One of those is my hubby’s famous Pumpkin Dessert. Man, oh, man, it’s definitely something we wait allllllll year for. It’s so good that I ask for it every year for my birthday INSTEAD of cake. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t, depending on if I’ve been a good girl or a bad girl (bad girl usually gets whatever she wants!). It’s delish! But he won’t let me share the recipe with anyone. (sorry)
Christmas songs are sung with gusto on Christmas Eve day, along with impromptu dances and jigs, and maybe a jump or three in there (usually by the kids) to add flavor to the mix. Presents from one to another are wrapped carefully, usually with an excess of tape and covered in bows. The kids each get to open one present on Christmas Eve, which only whets their appetite for the morning. Yet lo and behold, every year, Santa’s sleigh flies directly over our house on his way to the other side of the US before he crosses back, and most years, his sleigh has a minor malfunction, and bells fall off into the yard. The kids wait tensely all night long for even the slightest tinkling of bells, hoping he’ll fly overhead again this year. It’s been a family tradition since the kids could crawl, and I hope it continues for grandkids and great grandkids and on into the future. What a legacy.
The kids are sent to bed early, but we can usually hear them up until the early morning hours, whispering and giggling, then tossing and turning. The doors are closed, but they keep hoping to catch Santa in the act of scarfing cooking and gulping down the milk before he whisks away up the chimney. Precious hours and precious years we have spent honing the Christmas Eve technique, tweaked every year for unexpected surprises.
Christmas morning starts early (of course), with excited kids tearing up wrapping paper in frenzied joy, adults snapping pictures, and grins all around as Christmas music blasts in the background. Papers are cleaned up soon after and new toys played with, each given a separate time to be in the spotlight by the children. Christmas cooking starts just after the paper is done, and Mom takes over the kitchen, whisking, stirring and baking until friends and family show up that evening for a table full of food, a house full of friendship, and arms full of love.
So that’s my Christmas in a nutshell. What’s yours, if you celebrate? If you don’t, what do you do instead? Would love to hear from you and maybe find some new traditions and favorite things to add to ours, or maybe ours will join with yours.