I've always loved Christmas Eve, almost more than Christmas Day itself. The anticipation that builds as the days get closer to Christmas reaches it's peak on December 24th. I remember our Christmas Eves when we were growing up as some of the best. School was closed for the holidays so my sister and I usually wandered around the house, eager for the time to pass quicker. My mom often had to work (she's a nurse) but most times my dad had the day off and he was in charge of keeping us occupied. He would build a fire and the Christmas lights would be on for the entire day. My best friend Megan would usually come over or I would spend a few hours at her house, the two of us dancing around to the John Denver and The Muppets Christmas album or chattering away about what Santa might leave for us under the tree. Sometime during the afternoon dad would start to bring down the presents and place them under the tree. My parents would always bring a modest amount of packages down and spread them out under the tree convincing my me and my sister that that was all the presents. Once we were in bed they would bring down the rest of the gifts so that Christmas morning the presents seemed to be bursting out from under the tree. Once my mom came home from work our excitement really began to build as we realized that the day would soon be coming to an end. Mom usually made something special for dinner and then we dressed up in our Christmas dresses to go to Christmas Eve service, possibly the only time of year that I looked forward to going to church. The entire day built up to our Christmas Eve gift. When we were home from church and in our pajamas my sister and I were each given one present to open before bedtime. It was just a small taste of what the next morning would bring. Once our greedy little appetites were whetted we were off to bed where we were told to stay until at least 7am and no earlier (in later years the rule was no waking the parents until we had the coffee brewing). Since sleep was nearly impossible I spent some time lying in bed, eyes wide open, looking at the Christmas decorations I had strewn across my room and listening for Santa on the roof. Megan and I had a Christmas Eve tradition of signaling to each other from our bedroom windows which both faced the alley behind our houses. We both had electric candles in the window and we would turn the light bulb on and off to "talk" to each other. There was never any meaning behind our signals just two little girls having a secret best friend moment that was our very own Christmas tradition and no one elses.
Now that I'm a little less young, sadly, some of the anticipation and magic of Christmas Eve has waned. This morning, in honor of it being Christmas Eve and not just another Wednesday morning, I awoke early with Arbor Boy, who had to work today, to make a special Christmas Eve breakfast of eggs and bacon. The radio played Christmas tunes as I went about my daily routine but the little girl inside of me was still feeling the anticipation. Tonight we'll pack up gifts for the family and start the "Krissy and Alex Winter Tour '08". We'll arrive late out on Long Island but that won't stop us from poking around under the tree for the gifts that bear our names. Happily, our Christmas will be extended through the weekend as we make our way to Pennsylvania to celebrate Christmas with my family. And maybe that's the trade off we get when we grow up, a little less Christmas Eve excitement but a lot more Christmas Day celebration.
Merry Christmas, everyone!