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Tell Us About a Christmas Eve...   

Posted by Alexandra - Dec 24, 2013 - 6:17am
So I've been more than a little heartbroken lately about NOT being home for the holidays...especially as this will likely be the last Christmas in the home where I grew up. What I've realized, though, is that Christmas has not been the same in that house for several years now - because my siblings have grown children now, who are having their own little families. Now...my siblings are the grandparents that have everyone congregate at their individual homes. It's been a long. long time since we've all spent Christmas together in one place - and will probably be a long, long time that we ever will again.
But I still have my wealth of memories....many joyful Christmases past of togetherness, music, singing, laughter, LOTS of eating, baking, games, taking the "Christmas walk" after dinner to look at all the neighborhood Christmas lights and decorations....and gathering in the TV room to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" or "A Christmas Story."
One memory in particular stands out. One that kind of defined my career as a writer. I had two paternal aunts from Buffalo, NY who would send a huge box of books each Christmas. It would always arrive early, and we'd have to wait until Christmas Eve to open it. So after we'd come home from Christmas Eve church services and had our snacks of Hickory Farms cheeses and sausages and punch and home-baked Christmas cookies lovingly made by all the big sisters....we dragged the present out from under our parlor grande piano and cut it open (it was as big as a TV box!). This year, the aunts had gone all out. There were about 5-7 individually wrapped and labeled books for each of us, and the rest had no tag and were meant to be shared. It felt like a goldmine to all of us sisters—-hungry readers that we were. But that Christmas in particular was extra special because I was about 7 or 8 years old and had just learned to read! The age level of the books chosen for me were a little on the challenging side to push my limits a bit - but the stories were highly enjoyable. "Eight Cousins" was one of them. I still have it.
My Mom always said, "Lots of reading will make you a better writer, you know." 
 After we opened our books, we all sang Christmas carols in 3 and 4-part harmonies before finally going to bed. Inside we were warm and cozy while outside a graceful Ohio snow fell, blanketing the yard and shining like diamonds under our lamp post.
Please share one of your favorite, fondest Christmas Eve memories below....  I need some Christmas cheer today in the worst way!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. {#Group-hug}
11 comments on this journal entry.
Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity
aflanigan Avatar

Location: At Sea

Posted: Dec 26, 2013 - 12:45pm

My memory starts off like somewhat like yours, with a tradition. I was probably 18, first year away from home in college, back to visit for Christmas. My family and I had gone to Christmas eve mass, my dad was probably singing in the folk group that provided the music. After mass we went to a gathering of folks who had been part of the "home mass" movement in our town (an ordained priest, usually one from a nearby Redemptorist seminary, would say mass in a private home once a month or so, and people in the group took turns hosting). This had become a Christmas eve tradition; the families in this group felt a special bond (many of them had also attended marriage encounter seminars when the movement began spreading in the US).

The couple hosting the get-together was well known to me not only because they were in the group, and I knew their daughters from school, but also because I had lived with them for about a week when my mom suffered an aneurysm years earlier. They offered me a grown up drink, and invited me to hang out with the adults gabbing in the living room, where the Christmas tree was. They would gently shoo away younger children coming to inspect gifts piled under the tree on various pretexts. I really enjoyed sharing in their grown up camraderie, and quaffed a few rum and cokes (that seemed to get stronger each time). My mom and dad were also enjoying themselves, and probably getting tipsy, as I was.

It had been snowing since before we went to mass, and I ended up driving the family car home, gingerly navigating in about 3 inches or so of snow. I remember feeling a warm glow, and a sort of unfamiliar feeling of what it was like to have the people who I had viewed all my life as "adults", including my parents, accept me as a peer, and trust me to be responsible.

Some of that warm glow may have been from the rum, though.

Living with passion
Alexandra Avatar

Location: PNW

Posted: Dec 25, 2013 - 9:19pm

These are wonderful, my friends. Thanks so much....
Shine On.
Coaxial Avatar

Location: 543 miles west of Paradis,1491 miles east of Paradise

Posted: Dec 25, 2013 - 7:04pm

When I was a kid we would trek to no name Louisiana and stay at my Grandparents either for Christmas or Thanksgiving every year. They had my present sitting in the bedroom after my bath Christmas Eve night when I was 2 or 3. When the door of the bathroom opened I saw it and ran out naked and jumped on old Blaze. Old Blaze was a floppy eared grey mule spring horse. Blaze was cloth covered and really soft and had a really cool saddle, or in my mind I seem to remember a saddle but it has been a day or two, I just was raising all kinds of heck and riding furiously refusing to dismount to get dressed and ended up getting my butt whipped...Good times, noodle salad.{#Good-vibes} I rode the stuffing out of Blaze over the nest year or so....

If I might piggyback on OV's comment...Yes, the dirt that is like talc under the old houses. My Granny's house sure had it.
About three bricks shy of a load
steeler Avatar

Location: Perched on the precipice of the cauldron of truth

Posted: Dec 25, 2013 - 12:18pm

One year, when I was living in Chicago, I was unable to travel to spend the holidays with family due to work and economics. Probably was the first time for that for me. On Xmas eve,  I went to Guthries Tavern, my favorite neighborhood corner bar. Guthries held what it called its Orphans of the Storm celebration. Everyone brought food with them and the tavern owners provided a roasted turkey. Most of the folk there were tavern regulars, but that just meant you recognized each other, not that we necessarily knew each other. i thought that holiday was going to be a bit of a downer, but it turned out to be a great evening, full of generosity and Christmas spirit. 

Another fond memory was the time when I snuck downstairs in the wee hours to the room where all the presents were arrayed around our tree. My plan was to sit there quietly until it was finally time to open the presents. And I was carrying out that  plan when my dad came down and barked at me:  "What the hell's the matter with you! Get back in your bed!!" That was Dad.  I smile every time I think of that.

Antigone Avatar

Location: A house, in a Virginian Valley

Posted: Dec 25, 2013 - 10:20am

Christmas has changed for me, over the years since my mother passed away in 1998 and then it changed again after Daddy died in 2009, but I have tried to make my own traditions. My Christmas Eve tradition in my own home has been to watch Alastair Sim's Christmas Carol/Scrooge with a glass of bourbon. Toasting my mother and father. {#Cheers}

I wrote a journal about this process several years ago. Home (for me) is where the Christmas Tree is.

Merry Christmas, Alexandra. {#Good-vibes}
Living with passion
Alexandra Avatar

Location: PNW

Posted: Dec 25, 2013 - 9:16am

Thank you OV.
And Merry Christmas, SS!
ab origine
oldviolin Avatar

Location: esse quam videri

Posted: Dec 25, 2013 - 7:34am

My parents both grew up depression kids in the same small town, which after WW2 wasn't so much a town as it was a crossroad; all the boys having left and many never to return. War has a way of changing things.
By the time I came along the town was more a remnant, but the main thing was, that in it still resided my beloved Grandparents.

I have many fond memories of my large extended family descending on the old home of my Maternal Grandparents, the smell of oil fired heaters and country fixins' all lit by the old time colorful bulbs and ornaments, many made by the horde of grandchildren over the years; all lovingly hung from a scrub cedar tree.

On the mantle were pictures of all my Uncles in their uniforms and other pics of the antique bloodline who went before. In a little dining room was an old buffet cabinet where my Grandmother kept letters and cards and clippings from a life and world seeming somewhat unreal to me now, these 50 or more years hence. On top were pumpkin and apple pies, stacked 3 and 4 high in the way that was both country and common back then. The wire with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling was fun to swing around as the shadows would follow accordingly, earning a scolding from whichever adult was there. Then grab a biscuit or chicken leg and run out the side door. It was a familiar plan as I think of it now.

The front door to the old house had one of those bells that you turn the little knob to ring, resulting in the proverbial shout, "you kids stop ringing that bell!" There were plenty of wings dispensed in those days, I'm here to relate.

The old house was only partially underpinned and underneath was a spot me and my cousin Gary used to take cars or army men or whatever to play. The dirt was like talcum, and always cool in the summer. Sometime a few years ago, before the old house burned down I climbed under there to just, well, be in the moment I guess. I found an old rubber race car missing a wheel. It was like I found gold or something, which in a way, I guess I did.

These Christmas gatherings and the ghosts of a finer, more simple time follow me to every place I carry longing for the people and toys I lost along the way, and if in the dirt I'll find them one day, then in the dirt they never were meant to stay; all given to the future as it were...
swell_sailor Avatar

Location: The Gorge

Posted: Dec 25, 2013 - 7:21am


I wish I could remember a Christmas Eve well enough to tell about it. 

Merry Christmas.

Living with passion
Alexandra Avatar

Location: PNW

Posted: Dec 24, 2013 - 7:49pm

Thank you, Scott and Helen. You're the best.
What Day Is This?
helenofjoy Avatar

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Posted: Dec 24, 2013 - 4:49pm

I remember Christmas at Aunt Dorothy's house out "in the country on the shore."  The house wasn't large but was a shake shingle sided cottage with a screened-in wrap around sleeping porch overlooking a salt water creek in Ann Arundel County.  It had it's own well in the yard and in the mornings, full bottles of milk with real cream at the top magically appeared first thing in the morning at the back door.

"Dort's" house always smelled of fresh baked bread, apple butter and herbs and at Christmas time there was newly cut holly with berries and long needle pine bouquets garlanding the fireplace mantel and the bookcases, and the house then smelled of hot cider, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

I remember on Christmas Eve my Father and my older cousins with their big beautiful voices singing all of the Christmas Carols - with gusto - and we little ones were not allowed to sit idle just listening - we were encouraged to join in and we did!  These were not shy people and get-togethers with the family were always full of song and laughter.  Smiling faces, warm loving hugs, great food and no worries!

Gifts in those days were more practical as I remember, but I was appreciative and remember fondly a beautiful soft, winter white beret my Aunt Dorothy gave me for Christmas one year that I wore to death.  Books and art supplies were my favorite gifts and I was never disappointed. I remember the excitement when my little brother and my sister and I were tucked in for the night and we strained to hear the reindeer bells in the night until we lapsed into sleep finally.  I'm so grateful to have these memories.  One can't really go back can one?  Making more memories, new memories is just the ticket!  {#Good-vibes}

I eat pints
ScottFromWyoming Avatar

Location: Powell

Posted: Dec 24, 2013 - 10:52am

The first year we had our coffeehouse, we hosted a Christmas Eve dinner for staff and friends, about 30 people in all. Lights blazing, music playing and while we were in there, 2 feet of snow fell. All in all that's one of the best Christmas Eves I can remember.