Christmas Eve was always my favorite day of the year. The anticipation of the season had climaxed to a point of unbearable containment. In the morning I’d wake up early. Probably earlier than on Christmas day itself. I never learned that this was not a wise move. The earlier I woke, the more waiting I had to do. It felt like the longest day of the year.
Mom would send me downstairs to watch cartoons while I waited. Cartoons did not help matters much. I watched Bugs Bunny and friends in all their silly escapades while my mom disappeared behind her closed bedroom door. Her bedroom was off limits when the door closed on Christmas Eve. She busily wrapped presents. I’m not sure how she did it but she managed to be Mrs. Santa and fix the Christmas dinner at the same time. Sure, there were tense moments but looking back I totally understand now.
Mom loved Christmas and worked hard to make the perfect holiday. All while I sat in front of the television watching Bugs and company. And did my best to wait patiently. Or, at least, wait.
When evening time came, we had our Christmas dinner. Mom and dad invited relatives and friends over to enjoy the meal with us. I’m surprised now how many people their little house could fit. We had turkey, stuffing, love, and laughter. That’s what I remember the most about Christmases past – the love and laughter. I try to imitate it with my own Christmas dinners but something is missing. Maybe it’s the view of Christmas through a child’s eyes. I can’t seem to get that same feeling back from my youth. I guess that’s to be expected. We lose a little something when we gain knowledge and wisdom that comes with age. Just like Adam and Eve had to leave the garden behind to progress, we need to leave certain fantasies to childhood.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Christmas Eve dinner. I like preparing it and having the family come over for the feast. I love sitting around the table and letting the discussion take us down roads of memory and laughter. I think that it’s appropriate that it happens a week before the end of the year. It serves as a bookend to the year and a time to reflect on the past 365 days – good or bad.
But it’s different now that I’m an adult. I hate to use this word when I’m referring to Christmas but the magic is gone. All that is left is laughter and love. When I put it like that, it’s not so bad. I suppose my favorite Christmas tradition has never really changed. It’s still family, love, and laughter while we ponder the reason that brings us together. Maybe that is better than any childhood magical feelings I may have had. Maybe being an adult isn’t so bad after all.