In many ways, I think I enjoy Christmas Eve even more than Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, for us, is spent close to home. We spend the morning preparing special foods for this evening, things that can be made ahead of time and brought out quickly for sustenance during the hectic evening- a pretty bowl of clementines, nuts, and cheese to be brought out before evening mass- an antipasto platter (or as John calls it, "the antimatter platter"), chili dip and Fritos, homemade bread, and a relish tray for an easy dinner after mass- and birthday cake, hot cocoa, and hot cider to have before bed. My parents are coming down for the evening mass and Christmas pageant, and afterwards we will all come back here to eat and visit. We are burning down the last of our advent candles this afternoon, and just before mass we will change over our altar, swapping the purple linen for white, taking the purple ribbon off of our wreath and adding a gold ribbon and some holly picks, trading the purple and pink candles for white ones. I'll also load Christmas music into the stereo to enjoy when we get home.
As soon as we return from mass, the Christmas lights and music go on and the wreath is lit. The baby Jesus is placed in the nativity. The kids will each get to open a gift tonight. Their Christmas Eve gift is always something to wear to bed- new pajamas, a new robe, and/or new slippers, depending on what each child needs the most. My parents will head home and we will tuck excited and overtired children into bed. I will mix up some homemade Irish cream for John and I to enjoy. After they finally fall asleep, we will fill stockings, hang candy canes, and lay gifts under the tree. I also always try to have everything ready to go for the morning...coffee ready to brew, camera at the ready in the living room, trashbags tucked behind the end tables to gather shredded wrapping paper. Far too late, John and I will get to bed....and far too early, we will be awakened the next morning.
Merry and Blessed Christmas!