It is the afternoon of Christmas Eve. My favorite day of the year. Last minute errands are done. All the gifts are wrapped. My sister and I went to my dad’s early to set the table for tomorrow. Only 18 of us this year. Side dishes for Christmas Day are cooking right now. I will get the rest ready tomorrow while we are at my dad’s. We are lucky to live in the same town as him, so in the morning, after waking up in our own home and opening up gifts, we can head over there to spend the rest of the day with hm and my siblings and the kids.
Tonight, we will go to mass and then over to my grandma’s house where we will all get together for our Italian feast, dessert and gifts. Santa will arrive around 8 and hand out the first gifts of the evening. Then the kids will get gifts. The adults do a grab bag since there are so many of us. We try to make it fun by not signing who it is from. Instead, we all list three things most people would not know about us. Then we try to guess who the giver is. It makes it so much fun and makes us put a lot of thought into the gift giving.
There will be 25 of us at dinner this year. My kids are the oldest of the grandchildren and watching the little ones’ eyes light up when Santa arrives, is one of those magical moments of Christmas. He brings a gift for everyone there. Over the many, many years, Santa has been “played” by several different people. When we were really little, it was my Uncle’s good friend, DK – I don’t think I will ever forget the year he fell down the stairs. We heard a, “Ho, ho, hooooooooooo oh, SHI*” as he landed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs surrounded by presents. Fortunately, he was okay and Christmas went on as usual.
Dad’s cousin Greg played the part for a few years but when the kids got old enough to realize that he was missing in the crowd of party guests, he could not do it any longer.
A good friend, Joel, who is Jewish, was Santa for years. Since he didn’t celebrate Christmas, he LOVED playing the part of Santa and spending Christmas Eve with us. There was a year when he could not make it and last minute, we got one of Dave’s best friends from when he was a kid to do it. Dave had no idea and when Santa started to ask him questions about things that no one else could have known, I think Dave actually might have believed that this may have been the REAL Santa!
Danny, a friend from town was Santa for a few years. He was great and since he had his own white beard and eyebrows he didn’t even need to use the fake ones! A good friend of Dale’s has done it for the last few years. Anita, a woman, played the role spectacularly and I don’t know if the kids ever realized it was not a man playing the part! This year…we might be in a predicament. Our last two Santa’s are unavailable! We are waiting for the word from a last minute friend. If he can’t do it, Dave is going to dress up. Our own boys don’t believe anymore, so they’ll find it funny. The other kids are going to be so excited just seeing Santa, that they won’t even notice Dave not being in the room.
Every year, we create new memories at Christmas Eve. Tonight will be no different. We will miss Francine’s delicious desserts that she’d make every year and it won’t be the same without mom’s booming laughter ringing through the room. We will still all have fun though. Being together with our family is what makes Christmas Eve the best night of the year.