On Christmas Eve…

I love Christmas Eve. There’s always such excitement, contentment, and the like. When we were little we’d set up the tree, and as we got older we’d beg to open just one present on Christmas Eve. I usually got hand-knitted sweaters from my mother and other clothes. One year a complete set of Cherry Ames, with the bookcase for my bedroom. As I got older the best present was a slide projector, as I moved away from prints into slides. It was tough to carry home on the plane!

Hubby and I set some of our own traditions. We’d set the tree up after Thanksgiving so we had plenty of time to admire it. We’d do presents and wrap them for each other and stick them under a tree, and then give each other a “special reason” to open a few of them ahead of time. The best part was always shopping for my in-laws, who would open presents on Christmas Eve. Most of the time I would make things for them, as they were the most appreciative of hand-made in the family. The year we shipped the tole-painted picnic basket wrapped in a garbage bag was memorable.

When my i-laws both were gone, Christmas kind of disappeared. We stopped with the presents to each other, gave away most of the ornaments, and ate dinner out. Then about 6 years ago our second family stepped in and insisted we come to their place for Christmas Eve, making us even more a part of their family. The best thing I remember was EVERYONE got books! When I was first teaching I gave a roommate, who was the French teacher at the school, a French cook book. She ws insulted that I gave her a book and couldn’t think of anything better.

Well, books to me have always been THE gift, so being with my second family is just perfect. This year we are doing the cooking for 15 people on Christmas Eve, my favorite Portugese Bean Soup from an old recipe from the Kula Inn. Then we open our stockings. Now these are not ordinary stockings. Members of the family spend the year collecting lots of little goodies as stocking stuffers. The major presents are saved for Christmas morning and night, where we meet for dinner again.

For the last few years I have done hand-made for everyone. One year it was fabric bowls, which a few members wore as hats. Last year it was hand-made fabric fortune cookies, in their own take-out boxes, with fortunes customized for each member. This year it’s zentangle initials. Did I think to take pictures? Of course not, and the big ones are pretty spectacular.

This year has been different in a few other respects. Now that the move is over, and most of the boxes are unpacked, the studio at least workable, we set out our stockings, started playing Christmas music, put out the Christmas quilts, and started wandering the malls just for fun. We are relaxed (no barking dogs or drug deals across the street…) and enjoying the season. The school semester ended well, I made the decision to officially retire in May of 2012, and hubby is more relaxed and at ease than in the last coupe of years.

The world is a mess, far from peace all around and good will toward human beings, but I am content for now to enjoy the season. There’s friends to see, cooking and sewing to do, projects to start, and love all around. May you have peace in your life in the New Year.

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