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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Magical Eve

If you celebrated Christmas when you were younger, what do you recollect from back then about this day before the holiday?

My wife and I have been hosting Christmas Eve for my siblings and their families (most recent count = 21) and others (this year = add 4) for about 30 years. Whenever I find myself getting a little tense or crabby preparing for today, I try to recall the sweet anticipation from Christmas Eves of long ago when the four of us were growing up. Doing this invariably chases away the Scrooge in me.

A little before midnight on this day, once my parents had gone to bed, the four of us would rendezvous near the tree, located in the dining room adjacent to the bedroom my brother and I shared. We called it "camping out". For hours we'd stare at the wrapped presents, guessing what was in each. I'm sure my parents heard us whispering (they slept about 15 feet away on a converted porch) but they were too tired from their preparations to get out of bed and also knew we wouldn't dare open anything until they told us we could. What exquisite torture those hours were. Sometime around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. we'd begin drifting off to sleep one-by-one. It was always a point of pride, a contest of sorts, to see who could stay awake longest.

Occurred to me as my younger sister left just a little while ago that around this time on this day more than a half century ago, four children were getting ready to camp out. Are Mommy & Daddy asleep yet?

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