Christmas Eve Anticipation

Christmas Eve

As a child, I personally preferred Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. It was the custom to bring the evergreen into the house on the 23rd and check that all the tree bulbs were good to go. This custom had its roots in that my father had a Winter Solstice birthday. My mother felt it was unfair to have to share the spotlight with the over arching cultural feast. So indoor decorations did not go up until after December 21st.

On Christmas Eve we brought out the ornaments and trimmed the tree and bickered about whether to single strand or clump the tinsel. We had lots of oddments for tree ornaments. There was a carved napkin ring from Labrador from when my aunt had been a medical missionary there in the 1930s. There was a jumping jack my uncle gave me that still goes on my tree to this day. And there were many like that. My mother saved the blue fairy, dog and dungareed boy from my crib mobile. They still go on my tree. The ornaments were pretty random, not just store bought shiny baubles. Many also had a little story attached. My siblings and I routinely send each other new ornaments every few years and this is a way of continuing that conversation started more than sixty years ago when we shared a single Christmas tree.

Christmas Eve was all bustle and full steam ahead towards Midnight Mass to have everything ready, last minute baking and dashes to the store, presents put under the tree, stockings hung. The anticipation was delicious. Seductive. But…

Best laid plans will go awry. There have been Christmases when we have been snowed in and couldn’t drive to gather with my husband’s family for a day or two afterwards.

But sometimes then the old magic arises. We let go of the ideal of perfection and something more meaningful enters that is not something that can come down the chimney. That snowbound Christmas a far neighbour walked the few miles down to our house with a dessert apple pie in a rucksack to share the feast I had walked into the village on Christmas Eve with my rucksack to hurriedly assemble when it was clear that the plans were not going to pan out as expected.

My household has been something of a dispensary these past few days. I seem to be the only one standing without a sniffle. So far. My dear husband is bed bound with a streaming flu-like cold he has been batting back for a week. Also, feeling very guilty because…it’s Christmas and he really is flattened.


It'll be great!
It'll be magic!

There will be food.
There will be laughter.

We will gather
and have presents for after.

...and then

The oldest cat
will pee on the bath mat...

Father Claus wakes
with a streaming flu...

best laid plans set...
by the Lord of Misrule.

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

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