The children have gone mad. We are two days out from sweet festive freedom and I hope to survive until that final bell on Friday at 2:00. Pray for me.
To distract myself from this, let’s walk through Christmas Eve Day in my life. I’ve talked about tradition in the past 19 days, so I wanted to show you how it’s incorporated into my favorite day of the year!
For me, Christmas is about the build up of the season in its entirety. I love Christmas Day, but it also can feel melancholy as everything comes to a screeching halt on the 25th. The 365 day countdown begins anew. The tree will come down. The music stops. The movies change back to regularly scheduled programming. Christmas Eve Day and Night are my favorites because they embrace ALL of these elements. So, here’s how it happens:
[nerds unite: cue Satisfied from Hamilton – rewind, rewind…]
Christmas Eve Day always starts with a smell for me. My mom used to bake cookies in the morning and I would wander, sleepily, into the kitchen to find her. Now, I like to start the day in my pajamas and making a festive breakfast for my family. The likelihood that I am also working on Crockpot meals for the evening and preparing the table settings is high. My goal in the morning is to get as much done as I can for our family dinner (number has increased to 17), but in a relaxed setting featuring hot cocoa, Christmas music, and help from Caleigh.
If needed, I will wrap whatever gifts need it and tidy up the house. I light the candles, turn on the tree lights, and settle in for a movie snuggled with Cal and Marc.
We used to go to the 4:00 Mass pre-babies, but we’ve become heathens (really, it doesn’t work with nap times right now). I very much enjoy the children’s choir – that donkey song is my JAM! I know this next statement is easy to judge, but it’s my truth: I’m not ready to give up an hour of my time on the 24th with Caleigh to be in church. I want to be interacting with her rather than forcing her to be quiet and sit down. See? Heathen.
Without Mass, we all gather at my house around 4:00 and I’ll wake Caleigh up if she’s still napping. Everyone brings a Crockpot of something delicious and we set them out for appetizers. Presents get piled under the tree, coats are stacked on the bed, and the party begins! Being Portuguese, we do tend to eat early. While everything is casual, we sit down at the table and eat together. We say grace and a prayer for those who aren’t with us.
From dinner, we move into Secret Santa time. We all pull names on Thanksgiving for who we purchase for and have a spending limit (that I assume we all go over anyway…). What I love most about this is that we open ONE person at a time. I really cherish this practice. I like to see what other people receive and have gifted. I know this makes some people so uncomfortable, but that’s not the intention. We want to grant this time to each other and elongate it as much as we can!
Before tub & bed time for the babies and when everyone disperses, we play games. Ok, so I am super competitive and often people don’t want to play games with me BUT I do try to dial it down on this evening. We used to play Taboo – a family fave – but I think I might try to find something new this year to try out! Mallory is my partner of choice (sorry Marc!) because we have the same brain and usually ROCK together, but I’d love to find a way to build the girls in. I think they may be too young this year, but perhaps in the future.
After clean up, tubs, and pjs, everyone heads home and the three of us read The Night Before Christmas together. It’s quiet and dim and calm. Caleigh goes to sleep and Marc and I relax by the tree with a glass of wine as we put out the cookies and milk for Santa.
What do you do for your family Christmas Eve? Are there games we should be playing?