Well, it's 9:40 p.m. on Christmas Eve night. Our youngest is in bed (although I don't think he is asleep) and the others will all eventually follow. Christmas Eve in our family is usually a day full of traditions, and today was no exception. We went to see "Bolt," the latest animated adventure from Disney, this afternoon. Then we went to dinner with some of our extended family, this year at Islands (the Sunset Burger is delicious). After that, we came back to our home where we exchanged white elephant gifts. Where did the name "white elephant" come from anyway? Maybe I'll google it later. I scored a sweet Jonas Brothers poster that will likely never see the light of day again.
The final stretch of our Christmas Eve traditions begins when we go through our Christmas program together. The short version (which we did tonight) consists of readings from Matthew and Luke, one verse each of half a dozen or so carols, and a few concluding lines at the end. After the extended family heads home we open our Christmas pajamas which we will wear to bed tonight and which we will lie around the house in tomorrow for as long as we possibly can. Before we say our prayers, we each write on a small piece of paper a "gift" that we will give Jesus this year -- usually something that we can do to be more like Him, or to be kinder to our neighbors or family, etc. -- and we put it in a small box that we will open a year from now so we can reflect on how we did. Tonight when I reflected on what I wrote last year, I felt I did a decent job at fulfilling the goal, which is pretty good considering I didn't remember what I had written a couple of hours ago.
The final part of our Christmas Eve consists of putting out cookies and milk for Santa, putting food for the reindeer out on the lawn, and then tuning into the 24-hours of "A Christmas Story" on TBS while we get the house in order and things settle down (Ralphie currently has a mouthful of Lifebouy). Tomorrow will be filled with more "traditions," including: the waking up at 3, 4, 4:30, 5, 5:10, 5:18 and finally 5:22 a.m.; the violent tearing open of presents; the frantic searching for batteries; the voracious eating of a wonderfully delicious, yet terribly unhealthy breakfast at the grandparents'; and, of course, the inevitable (or, at least, thoroughly wished for) napping amidst the carelessly strewn wrapping paper and boxes.
It's all good. I do love Christmas, with it's traditions that emphasize family and giving and, most of all, Jesus Christ. I am keenly aware of, and grateful for, all of the blessings that me and my family enjoy, and hope I can do my part make the world around me a little better every day this coming year. That is definitely a Christmas tradition worth keeping.
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