Our Fall Creek Christmas Eves are a tradition born of love and ... compromise. "Compromise?" you say ... well, yes. When I was growing up Christmas Eve was really just another night at the house with one exception -- Daddy would take us to Downey, a wealthy community near our home in Southern California ('The Carpentars' lived there!) whose residents went all out. It was always so lovely and still one of my favorite childhood memories. Then it was back to the house where we were sure to go to bed relatively early in anticipation of Santa's visit (in our new PJ's so we'd look our best for Christmas morning pics!). My brother (who was 7 years my junior) & I were, as you might suspect, early risers on December 25th. I can still hear his voice "Sissy, he came" and then, it was on -- stockings were always first then onto the gifts. Oh yeah and somewhere in between we had to wake up mom & dad so that mom 'could see our faces'. My brother Ray & I are still big believers! As far as I'm concerned when you stop believing you're in danger of not receiving (wink, wink) ... & I think I'm onto something because jolly ol' St. Nick fills my stocking full and I awake to wonderfulness every Christmas morn. So I ask you, why would I ever doubt? No reason that I can think of! ;)
My hubby's childhood Christmases were quite different, in that Christmas Eve was the big event! Santa even came to his house and delivered his gifts first (while his family was at dinner at his paternal great-grandfather's home "Poppy"). His dad explained the reason for Santa's early visitation to Branchland was because Ol' Kris Kringle had a long night ahead of him and well, why not stop at Branchland first? It worked out perfectly ... that way Roger was able to enjoy his gifts that evening before the family, once again, went to visit, this time to Wayne County to see his maternal grandparents on Christmas Day.
When we married, I couldn't imagine Santa not coming in the night, slipping quietyly into our home to leave gifts & fill stockings but I didn't want to throw his childhood remembrances and traditions out without a thought so .... hmmmmm, what to do? What to do? I know! We'll combine them ... ah hah, a compromise ... perfect! Thus began our tradition .... we would have dinner & exchange gifts with friends & family on Christmas Eve but Santa would fill stockings and leave more gifts in the night ... I was onto something!
In the early years of our marriage, my MIL still lived in the area and we spent Christmas Eve at her home and exchanged and opened presents, ate dessert and then we were back to our home to get to bed early and awake to Santa gifts. My parents & brother were invited as well because, you know the story, they never did anything on Christmas Eve any way (even after our move back East). Christmas day would be at my parent's home and we'd have dinner there and open more gifts and another stocking was filled! (I love Santa! ;)
So 1984 was the first year we hosted Christmas Eve dinner (I had never baked a turkey before, much less all the trimmings!) and it was wonderful ... so wonderful it's continued all these years. My boys, who are now 30 & 28, were only 4 & 2 then ... where has the time gone? I have no idea :/ but we have wonderful memories of all those years. Our family has grown and my kitchen, dining room and living room are filled .... we love it! Our two sons have multiplied and together, with their wives & children, now number 7, my brother is now 3 instead of 1 (and BTW, we will have another little one Christmas 2011 as my SIL is expecting their 2nd child in August!) ... you get the jest of it .... families grow and hey, isn't that what they are supposed to do? Yes!
My goal is that one day my grandbabies will speak of fond remembrances of Christmas Eve on Fall Creek at Nana & Papaw's. I know both of my boys have wonderful childhood Christmas memories, of that I am certain. While some rebel against tradition, I embrace it. I love it. It comforts me. This year will be the third without our oldest son and his family as the Navy had other plans. I have to work on not being sad and I can't tell you how much they are missed. I trust the Lord completely and believe that soon they'll be back here with us for on Fall Creek for our traditional family Christmas Eve safe & sound.
Oh my, I almost forgot to mention a tradition Roger & I begin with our boys very early on. After dinner and before the first gift is opened, the Christmas story in Luke Chapter 2: 1-20 is read as a reminder of why we gather and exchange gifts ... to celebrate the birth of Christ, our Savior!
Wishing you all a very "Merry Christmas" & choice blessings to you & yours now & in the coming new year!
Here's my heart ... our precious grandgirlies ...
Emmy, KyKy & Boochie
Adorable Christmas Elves!