Christmas Eve in My House

Christmastime was so special for me as a child. It was always snowing in my memory, probably because it was. I grew up in upstate New York where it began snowing in October! A winter wonderland outside, we’d play Christmas music while we decorated. I remember Johnny Mathis’ Christmas album playing like it was yesterday. I could still see that picture of Johnny on the cover of the album with the Santa hat on his head.

We used to have this little nativity scene that you would put on display on a table. I loved playing with the little baby Jesus and the shed. I don’t remember what ever happened to that set but I have to think after years of me playing with it someone got lost and you really can’t put out a nativity scene with anyone missing!

We would take all of our plastic Santas and Reindeer decorations from their hiding places and hang them from the windows. We never bought a fresh tree because I had allergies, so putting up the tree in my house meant unpacking it from the attic. I still remember my mom painstakingly vacuuming every single piece of the tree. There must have been hundreds of these fake fir rings that wrapped around a post that eventually would become the tree itself. Then we’d wrap the thing in big, colored lights and every decoration that my brother and I had ever created ourselves in school, at home, wherever. I don’t think we had any store-bought ornaments and yet we filled that tree with homeade decorations. This is something you can do with your kids. Here are some ideas from Family Fun.

With a fire in the fireplace, I would lie for hours on the couch in my living room and just let my mind wander as I stared at those blinking red, blue, yellow, green bulbs on the tree, Johnny signing about chestnuts roasting in the background. It was so comforting and mesmerizing.

Although we were Italian, I never remember us adhering to the Feast of Seven fishes rule on Christmas Eve, but many people I know did. In my house, we usually had some kind of roast-be it a ham, a turkey or a roast beef, and of course, like I said in my Thanksgiving post, we had to have lasagna! Here is a new Rachael Ray Red and Green Christmas Lasagna recipe for you to try.

Christmas Eve night meant most kids got to open one gift before bed, as noted in Plan B mom’s post. I grew up with parents who couldn’t wait for us to see all the gifts we received from anyone other than Santa (because of course those had not arrived yet), so we were allowed to open most of our gifts on Christmas Eve, especially if it hit midnight and it was then technically Christmas. Wait until everyone eats breakfast the next morning? Not us. We were done opening the remaining gifts within 10 minutes of hitting that living room floor. I am not saying our way was the right way, but it was our way. With the gifts out of the way, it was on to getting ready for the visitors. Because after all, in my family, the gifts weren’t really what was lying under the tree. The gifts were who came through the door to sit down and break bread with us.

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