A Christmas Eve Past


At ten years old, had someone asked me what I liked better, Christmas or Christmas Eve, I wouldn’t even had to think. Christmas, of course. A mere six years later, Christmas was still the favorite, but Christmas Eve had gained a lot of ground. By sixteen, I’d learned to appreciate anticipation of Christmas Eve, my Mom’s happy Christmas mood, the smell of pies9 cooking in the oven and carols on the radio. And, of course, going out with my Dad to pick up gifts from our relatives homes was one of my favorite things of the year. And here I sit at seventy four, looking back nostalgically and I find that many of my favorite memories are of Christmas Eve. And in particular of one about 40 years ago.

We had moved to California, thousands of miles from our families. We might not have moved if our best friends, Don and Jackie, hadn’t moved there before us and when we did, they became our family away from home. The particular year I remember, they had two girls, Monica and Debbee. We had a toddler son, Aaron. All the packages were wrapped but two gifts needed to be assembled, a bicycle for Debbee and a large fiber-board dollhouse for Monica. It was decided that the engineer men would tackle the bike and the women would build the dollhouse. I don’t know if that division of labor would be seen as sexiest these days but it wasn’t back then. Don and I retired to the garage with a quart of Chivas Regal to help guide us through the poorly translated directions. As often occurs with Christmas Eve projects, parts were missing, and with the stores already closed, we had to improvise from Don’s workbench, but two hours … and a bottle of scotch … later, the bike was done so Don and I went in to see how the girls were doing.

They were sitting happily on the sofa sipping their Bartle and James wine coolers. It’s done, they said, smiling. Don and I looked at it. And began to laugh. The dollhouse was perfect, except that it had been put together inside out, with all the tabs that belonged on the inside sticking out like porcupine quills on the outside. We all had a good laugh about it before putting it back together correctly. It is a story that we tell …


and laugh … about every year. The story is made more poignant by the fact that Jackie passed away this year and though we haven’t spent Christmas together in a long time, she will be with us tonight, a thread in a Christmas Eve tapestry that includes family and friends both present and past, here in fact and here in spirit. At some point Alexa a will play I’ll Be Home for Christmas and I’ll tear up a bit before going on to enjoy the evening ahead.

candle3A few days ago, I posted Santa’s Ornaments, a recollection of the tradition of having new ornaments from Santa on our tree each year. At the end, I asked, What are your sacred holiday traditions? Justme62 left this comment: Mine is I light a candle or 2 for the loved ones that are no longer here. I do it on Christmas eve just to feel the connection and make them feel that they are not forgotten. I like that, a lot. I think I’lll do it this year,

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