hat time of evening when most of the adults are sprawled out after an elaborate meal on the living room furniture, as if they were in a food coma. It's Christmas Eve and it's too early to send the children off to their beds but getting close. This is the time we usually prepare milk and cookies for Santa and leave granola and carrots for his reindeer. It wouldn't be Christmas Eve without reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Traditionally we read it in bed, but this year I think we will be reading it aloud, as we toast marshmallows and drink hot cocoa by the fire. This is also the time that Gran and Daddy take turns playing the piano and we all sing along, shaking jingle bells to Christmas carols. This year, the boys can add to the repertoire, as they have been working hard for several years with piano lessons. Usually, the Wizard of OZ is on the tube in the background and the night seems without end. We open wrapped gifts for hours, tell stories of Christmas' past, and jokes until it hurts to smile. The wine is poured freely and the homemade eggnog is frothy.
Once the children are ushered to bed and the guests part their ways, my husband begins the massive clean up of dirty dishes, and packing up food. It's then that I head to the basement to begin wrapping all of Santa's gifts. By the middle of the night, completely exhausted and overwhelmed, is when we carry the gifts up the steps, and methodically stack them under the tree. The last step before we head to bed is to get the cameras charged and ready for the morning mad dash. When Christmas morning finally arrives, the children charge in to wake us. We throw on our robes and slippers and grab the cameras. There is nothing more amazing than witnessing the joy on your children's faces when they have their first look at the gifts under the the tree, as they tear down their bulging stockings.
The production and preparation that goes into Christmas is worth all the effort. I never feel like I'm over doing it because it all seems right. Creating a truly surreal and magical Christmas experience that no adult or child ever forgets is worth it all in the name of tradition.