I’m laying in bed as I hear Santa wrapping up presents down the hall, the smell of homemade Italian sauce wafting smoothly through the air, and my sister twisting the candlelights in each window to a soft glimmer.
It’s Christmas Eve and all seems so right in my little world back home in Connecticut. I’m totally imagining all this rain was a beautiful blanket of snowfall, and I really wish my dad didn’t have to work tonight, but si ce est la vie I suppose.
My Christmas Eve has always been not-so-traditional. Each year my grandma turns another year older on this day, so while many are munching on a Christmas cookie or two, my family and I are around lit-candles singing Happy Birthday. Each year my dad may or may not have to work and his hours always vary. Sometimes a friend or so will stop in, but mostly not because they’re gathered around their own homes with their families. We typically make it to midnight mass, but to be honest, we’ve missed the last few. Sometimes we burn an incredible fire and surround ourselves with a game of Scrabble, but when my dad isn’t here, we don’t like to engulf ourselves in family fun because the family isn’t “all here”.
It may sound like some sad tale Scrooge may whisper about, but that not-so-traditional Christmas is what makes coming home for the holidays so incredible.
Remember how I said I was laying in bed? Yeah, I’m laying with a bag of Doritos, my sister munching on blueberries in my ear, and an episode of Friends playing in the background. When we woke up this morning, the first thing we did as a family was give MeMe her birthday gift. It was her and Poppy’s wedding picture blown up beautifully on canvas – she cried. When my mom and grandma baked Christmas cookies this morning, they totally messed up a batch of Thumbprints so in the trash they went and we all got a giggle. My dad started the morning Jimbo style in the hot tub, then labeled his gift to my mom with his classic: “from me” with his weird hand-drawn smiley face that is recognizable anywhere. Once the afternoon rolled around, he kissed us all goodbye as I asked him to watch out for Santa and his reindeer! He may have to work on Christmas Eve but I’m so proud of what he does that it doesn’t really phase me. Right now, our annual Christmas footie pajamas are rolling around in the dryer, preparing for us to climb into them, and my mom is putting Mahi Mahi in the oven.
Each year, our Christmas Eve is not-so-traditional. It honestly never feels like Christmas Eve but it’s always one of my favorite nights of the year. Christmas Eve isn’t always about surrounding yourself with family, or getting dressed up for mass. It’s about taking a moment to reflect on all you have – in under 24 hours hundreds of years ago, Christ was born:
For…all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. (Colossians 1:16-18)
Tomorrow, is when my family comes together to have the traditional Christmas celebration. We open the gifts St. Nicholas has left under our tree, we say Grace before eating a fantastic Italian-style dinner around a big table, we see our loved ones and even visit those who are no longer with us, and we take a moment to reflect on the year that is passing us.
I hope however you and yours are spending your Christmas Eve, that you never take for granted how you celebrate it–whether it’s always that “traditional” Eve where one family member is always too drunk or it’s a different one that is unique to your family, it’s your Christmas Eve. It’s just as beautiful and amazing as the next.
Merry Christmas Eve to all and to all a good night :)