I've always preferred Christmas Eve to the actual day. One of the best things about holidays is the whole notion of "tradition" something I adore. Growing up, we spent Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family: Grandma Pauline, Aunt Jeannie, and Uncle Butch. We ate overcooked ham, so dry you needed a steak knife to saw through it and opened loads of presents bought with money saved all year in the Christmas savings club at the bank. Of course, back then, I never appreciated the value. I just loved the presents … and the people, two of whom are no longer with us.
That tradition is long gone, but we've forged new ones. Candelight service at church, going out to dinner at the Olive Garden, and driving around to look at Christmas lights. As it always was, the day is about family, perhaps even more so than Christmas day, which dawns with chaos.
Christmas Eve is peaceful with its quiet anticipation.
More than that, though, it's a day, a night of hope. The Eve. The day before. It precedes something big. We are on the cusp, on the verge, just about to get there. This is not the long drawn out waiting that drives us crazy. It's not a kid whining, "Is Christmas ever going to get here?" Or worse, an adult moaning, "I just can't wait until it's over."
Movies, songs, and stories all tell the story of the spirit of Christmas; many claim people have forgotten. I disagree. It's easy to find in the understated spaces: in the light of the candle, in giggle of a child who can't quite fall asleep, in tracking Santa all day long. It's the same spirit I've felt the last couple of weeks as I was shopping , in the smiles on people's faces and in the happy cashiers when I asked about their days or complimented their services.
What I know now that I didn't know as a child is that I am the spirit of Christmas. And so are you.
Of course, I will love watching my kids open presents tomorrow, but today I'm making a plan to keep the spirit with me all year, not by living like every day is Christmas, but as if it were Christmas Eve. Not hurry up and get over it or why won't it ever come? But in the perfect peaceful, celebratory, on the verge, on the cusp, anticipatory feeling of hope and happiness of today.
Blessings and joy to you and yours!