‘‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…..
It is no secret that I love Christmas. The twinkly lights, the chorus of carolers singing heavenly hymns, freshly fallen snow and the feeling of togetherness that seems to permeate and crackle in the air around me.
It was a gift that my parents passed onto my brother and I.
Impoverished, my parents came to adulthood with fractured and painful pasts. But together, they were determined to take a different path with their children. Life is about learning and although they struggled sometimes, they always seem to create Christmas miracles.
I will forever remember the feeling of being so completely and wholly loved during this particular holiday season.
I wonder now how my parents managed to pull off such miracles year after year. They truly must have scrimped and saved in the months before to give my brother and I such spectacular Christmases.
It always began on the 24th of December.
Early morning marked the flurry of activity and preparation that would lead to the commencement of Christmas Eve. There was meat to be sliced, cheese to be placed on platters overflowing with pickles and grainy mustards. Month long baking to be set out and last minute shopping to be rushed and fussed about.
My brother and I waited impatiently for night to fall.
And then behold ..out came the culmination of December for just the four of us. Extravagant and once a year.
My dad would look upon us with a serious expression and formally ask what one drink we would like to try. Giddy with excitement, I would always choose the milkiest, creamiest concoction garnished with bright red cherries. And every year, I could barely choke down more than a few sips of the alcoholic beverage. My dad’s face was smug as he turned his back, carrying my drink to the sink to drain the contents. “Perhaps next year, you can try again. Luckily I have some ginger ale here that I can put in a wine glass if you like?” Grateful, I nodded.
Gorging ourselves, we laughed and teased each other about what the next day might bring.
When we were finally satiated, I snuggled into my father as we watched a Christmas Carol. Black and white, it was morose and miraculous all at the same time. Trying as hard as I might to keep my eyes open, I nonetheless always drifted off to sleep. My father would gently wake me and send me to my bed.
For Christmas morning and all it’s wonder could never come soon enough.
These are my fondest memories of childhood Christmas Eves and I wanted so much to share them. Traditions are only stories that are told and acted upon generation by generation.
December is a month full of love and miracles and I would love to hear some of yours. Your traditions, your memories… let’s see if we can fill the rest of the holiday season and this page with time honored customs.