Christmas Eve Eve

As a kid, I always remember going to my grandma’s house or my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve for a big Italian dinner and opening presents form the family (we still waited til Christmas morning to open presents from Santa, of course!)  Then we’d go to “midnight mass” (which I put in quotes because it actually started at 11!)  and sing Christmas hymns by candlelight.  These were always the things that made Christmas Christmasy for me.  The things that defined that day from any other day.  Then Christmas day we’d have 40-60 of our closest friends and family come to our house to eat and drink all day and night.  I loved these Christmas Eves and Christmases.  As I got older, and my family moved away, our Christmases began to feel less Christmasy.  We’d go out to dinner on Christmas Eve, and we could never even stay up for mass.  My siblings and I had to set an alarm to wake up at five for “santa” as we were no longer excited enough to get up on our own.  We’d open presents and eat breakfast and by 10 or 11 am, Christmas was over.  Sometimes we’d go see a movie.  But it felt like it wasn’t even worth it anymore.

As I was on my way to work today, Christmas Eve Eve, it occurred to me that this is the day that has become the most festive and eventful for me in the past few years.  Five years ago, it was a bunch of coworkers and myself driving an hour north to help another restaurant that was so busy and whose employees were so over worked they hadn’t even had time to finish Christmas shopping yet!  Three or four years ago, it was making the most epic Christmas cookies with one of my best friends who I only get to see on holidays when we both go “back home”.  Last year, I was at Candy Cane Karaoke, singing and dancing and dressing goofy with all my friends (and doing delicious candy cane shots!)

While today was mostly uneventful (although I did brave the grocery store to get the ingredients to do some last-minute holiday baking) it still marks the first real touch of Christmas spirit in my otherwise downtrodden heart.   This will be the first Christmas ever that my family has been separated.  My mom will be here soon to spend the holiday with my brother and I, while my dad and sister and brother-in-law will all be back home and working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I guess this is what growing up does, but I still always hoped that Christmas would be the one day we’d all get to enjoy together.  Hopefully, I manage to find the spirit soon.  If not though, I will be sure to find my birthday spirit in a few days!  And, this will be the first New Year’s I’ve had off in 6 or 7 years!

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