I awake this Christmas Eve and the kids are beyond excited. Happy Christmas Eve!! As my oldest bursts into my room and scrambles on top of me with a smothering hug. They have as much energy as if they had a triple grande at Starbucks, jumping up and down all over the place. They are so very excited and can hardly wait for Christmas tomorrow.
Sadly, this year they have serious doubts about the big man in red. This week in the car we had a conversation regarding the handwriting on their gifts and the note that Santa leaves for them each year in that it looks an awful lot like one of the parental units handwriting. I have to say seeing the magic on Christmas morning and the absolute joy on their faces when they see that Santa has magically transformed their home and deposited some loot for them has been one of the best parts of being a parent. Hands down. It makes me weepy watching them, in a good way of course.
Even though Santa is slowly inching out of the picture, it still lays the foundation for trying forge new traditions that will be spoken of for years to come. It’s amazing some of the things that become traditions. Looking back on some of the things that you remember happening from year to year sometimes just kinda happen, and I think sometimes that’s pretty cool.
When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was spent with my dad’s family. To this day, Christmas Eve reminds me of liverwurst and kielbasa sandwiches because that was the grub that was set out for us this year. And it was awesome. It was something that we didn’t often have, and it made it special and memorable. When I was really young I can remember driving home from our grandparents and someone saying, “Hey there’s Santa’s sleigh up there moving across the sky!”, and I’d be scrambling over one of my siblings trying to catch a glimpse, hoping upon hope that I was truly seeing him.
I will never forget the year that Santa was exposed. I was 5 years old, going on 6 and I had already gone to bed. I was laying in bed half between sleep and not, when I heard a strange voice I didn’t recognize coming from downstairs. It was a ho-ho-ho. I got out of my bed and strained my ears next to the railing to try and figure out what I was hearing. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t believe my ears. Then my brother came out to see what I was doing, and he dropped the bomb. There is not a santa, it’s mom and dad you dork. I was devastated. I don’t remember all the details but whatever he told me to disuade my belief, it worked. It just clicked that, damn it, he’s right. The next morning there were a couple little trinkets for each of us from santa and when I asked mom about what I heard, some good samaritan in the neighborhood was walking around and spreading Christmas cheer and handing out little gifts for the kids. Deflated….
But that’s ok. Christmas morn was still magical and steeped in the traditions that were already formed in my head: stockings filled with little things personalized for each of us, that blinding light from the movie camera, and the wonderful sound of that train chugging along under the tree.
When we got older, we’d all head to mass on Christmas Eve. I loved seeing the church decked out in finery in the dark and lighted up so beautifully. Hearing them sing all the Christmas carols made it even more magical and was something I looked forward to each year. After mass, I felt so old (back in the day when feeling old was a GOOD thing ha ha!) that I was now a part of sorting out the gifts and placing them throughout for Christmas morn. I loved it.
We’ve started our own traditions with our kids and look forward to scrambling to Christmas Eve mass, scrambling because we struggle arriving before mass begins on Sundays, let alone during a packed house on a holiday. Most years we are lucky to even score a seat because we can never usually manage to get there early enough…we return home to meal by the fire and if we’re lucky some family and friends to share in our merriment.
This followed by the cookie plate and carrots for the reindeer for santa…we’ll have to see how it plays out this year for sure. My guess is that it’s part of the tradition, I’m betting my kids will still want to do that–better not to jinx anything just because of a little doubt, right?
So here’s to forging your own tradition, and making a magical Christmas for all! And of course, Happy Birthday Jesus, here’s hoping we’re doing something right down here 🙂