Wake up way too early because the kids didn’t sleep at all
Open presents, either from Santa or hard-working parents who paid for them
Eat breakfast – We make a sausage egg and cheese casserole.
Jump in the car, take off (drive about 2 hours with no traffic)
Arrive at first stop
Jump in the car, take off (30-minute drive)
Arrive at second stop
Collapse in exhaustion
Wonder how the kids are still going strong.
This is the short list, it used to be much longer and cover a much longer distance. Between the food, fun, family, and yes sometimes fighting, don’t forget about Jesus during this time. It’s the whole point of it all.
My Christmas Eve traditions have evolved over the years. Long story, bear with me.
We used to wait for my Dad to get off work and ride to my paternal Grandparents house. We would usually be one of the last to arrive since my father worked for Federal Express helping Santa’s sleigh finish it’s route. Upon entering their home, you would be greeted by the warmth of the floor furnace. It was a open grate that continuously pumped heat. I’m not sure how that was safe and that we didn’t get roasted as children. I swear you could smell your shoes melting.
There was plenty of food and it all tasted fantastic. However you couldn’t smell any of it. All the adults smoked cigarettes which built a nicotine barrier that food aromas couldn’t break through. Christmas Eve always felt like the longest evening. We would stare at the mountain of presents under a 3 foot tall already decorated tree that was erected before the evening and taken down the next day. The grown ups wanted to sing by the piano but we wanted to see what was under all those wrappings. Once we started opening presents (after a few 10 minute delays) it didn’t take long before the night was over and we were on our way home.
Starting our Own
We live just far enough where we have to do our own thing for Christmas Eve. Otherwise we would have to spend Christmas morning at someone else’s place. I want my kids to wake up in their own house on Christmas morning. We keep it pretty simple. We watch Christmas movies and bake treats. We have a nice steak dinner at a restaurant and then attend a Christmas eve service at our local Church. We then drive around and look at Christmas lights. We come home, open one gift and then put the kids to bed. We then watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while we wrap and assemble the kids gifts.
It’s important to start and keep traditions, but also remain flexible. Someone in your family is always going to be unhappy, don’t let it be you.