It’s Christmas Eve and I’m up early, planning for a day that will be busy with preparation for Christmas Dinner. At my house we always have Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. It’s a long-standing tradition in my family, a tradition that started when we lived in Germany when my sister and I were very small. Observing the European tradition of celebrating on Christmas Eve, my mother realized that she would actually get to enjoy Christmas Day with her family if she prepared the Christmas feast on the 24th. She is a wise woman.
Forty odd years later, the Christmas Eve tradition continues, and so today my home will be filled with the delicious smell of roasting turkey, fragrant stuffing, and a variety of roasting vegetables. I’ll be simmering cranberries for sauce and whipping cream for trifle. My kids will be involved, helping in the kitchen, and around the house. My littlest guy is an expert at setting the table, his middle brother loves to cook, and the eldest is great at cleaning up after us. It will be a team effort to get Christmas dinner on the table tonight. But it’s a meal we look forward to, shared with my mother and with close family friends, a meal punctuated by much laughter.
Dinner tonight is just one event in a long line of holiday social engagements. The Christmas season is crazy busy for me and my boys. Our calendar is booked with parties and brunches and small gatherings, and that’s exactly the way I like it. We spent Friday night having dinner with my two dearest friends and their families. All seven children were there, even though the four eldest are now off at college and university, and busy with their own lives. It’s rare these days for all twelve of us to get together at once, even though the kids practically grew up with each other. Listening to them laugh together, share stories, and tease one another, I was reminded of how important these connections are.
Saturday night we were out at another party, this one with friends from the period when my oldest boys were in preschool. I always look forward to this party, a raucous event with more than 50 adults and kids in the house. Those little preschoolers are all taller than me now, and I rarely see their moms any more, so I love having an evening to reconnect, to share a glass of wine and a story together. And later in the evening, a couple of the men pull out their guitars, a young and talented pianist takes her place at the piano, and we spend a couple of hours caroling. I watched this year, feeling a little choked up, as my eldest son and two of his old friends stood together, arm in arm, singing along, looking for all the world like the adults they’re turning into.
This, for me, is what Christmas is all about, a time, to connect with friends and family, to laugh together, perhaps to sing, and to share stories as we catch up. However you spend the holiday, I wish you the riches of friendship and family, of good food and laughter.
Tell me about your holiday traditions…