It's 5:30 on Christmas Eve morning and I'm the first one up in the castle. In an hour or two the pace will liven and activity will reign for the following 12 hours. Until then I'm content to let Christmas Eves past wash over me.
When I was a kid we opened presents on Christmas Eve. Santa came while we were at the pageant at church. Seventy kids would recite the Gospel according to Luke, sing a few carols, one would throw up on my brother and then we'd take our bag of goodies and go home to a room full of wrapped presents. The bag always had an apple and an orange, striped peppermint ribbon, one candy cane and a handful of peanuts in the shell.
Christmas Eve changed as we got older. The brother married and went to his in-laws. I married and went to mine. Christmas Day became the present-opening day. Mom's house for a large Noon meal and an afternoon of gift opening. I added three beautiful children and my brother added the lovely Casie and we made a leisurely afternoon of it, stopping often to bag the pile of wrap in the middle of the floor.
After I became de-married the tradition changed again. The boys came over on Christmas Eve for an evening of Chinese food and a few presents before a guy's video night. That lasted a few years but has taken hold in better ways.
I fell in love for the last time and have remarried, to a woman who loves Christmas far more than I ever have or will. It's very clear at our house that Christmas is more about the giving than the getting and more about giving of one's self than of one's things.
Our house will be open and lively today. Drew and Lisa are coming this Noon to have lunch with us. If it works right, Kyle will be here before they head south to her parent's house. Nathan will be here this afternoon and Heather and Rick will be back from Milwaukee with the perfect granddaughter, Mikhaila, and her first Christmas Eve. Justin and Courtney will get here about six after a stop with her family.
My life is good. Five grown children and their families sitting on the floor eating Chinese, they are here because they wish to be here with their Mother and me. My beautiful wife is the one who makes this all happen. She brought the tree back into my house and brought Christmas Eve home. For that, I consider myself a lucky man.
Merry Christmas, all, and Peace to you and yours.