Thursday, December 24, 2015

Some Thoughts On Christmas Eve

The calendar at my Dad's bar.  Photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

It's Christmas Eve.  We're listing to classical Christmas music.  It is about 9:30 p.m. and the girls are getting ready for Santa's arrival.  Milk and cookies have been placed by the stockings, along with carrots for Santa to take back up to his reindeer.  A certain 9-year-old is being prodded to go to bed.  After all, one cannot be awake when Santa comes.  

Meanwhile, those of us who have been "delegated" Santa duties are awaiting the child getting in bed so we can set the stockings and get to bed ourselves.  Oh, and there is the last minute wrapping to do.  There will be plenty of creatures stirring in this house for quite some time.

Treats for Santa and his reindeer.  Photo by J. Berta.

 Christmas Eve has been different experiences throughout my life.  I was fortunate in that I got to open my presents on Christmas Eve.  My parents let me do this so I could play with them.  Growing up, we'd drive down to Ottumwa, Iowa on Christmas Day to celebrate with my Grandparents.  That ceased in 1983 when they both passed away.  

We would go to Mass on Christmas Eve.  I served Mass for a couple of them.  I remember how pretty and peaceful the Church, Our Lady of Victory looked at night, lit up, with the stain glass windows almost glowing.

Another Christmas Eve tradition was to go to my friend, Chris' house.  I saw him today at my Dad's bar and we fondly recalled about how much fun we had.  Time marched on and that tradition faded away.

In 1989, my Dad opened the bar.  He had a rule that he'd close by 5:00 on Christmas Eve.  This way, he could get out of there and actually have dinner at home one night a year.  I would go in and help him clean up, have a drink with some of the regulars, and lock the doors.  Last year (I think) I shared my poem, "Bar's Closed on Christmas."  That was the inspiration for it.

That tradition ended five years ago.  My Mom passed away in 2010 after her most valiant battle with cancer.  It was that year my Dad opened the bar on Christmas.  He and I would go to church in the morning and he would come over and eat with us.  Then, he'd open the bar.  I'll suspect he'll have a good crowd tomorrow.  The regulars will be glad to see him...and vice versa.

My Dad, getting into the spirit at his bar.  Photo by J. Berta

For some, Christmas Eve is a bigger deal than Christmas Day.  That could be in part due to custody agreements and visitation schedules.  For others, there is the juggling of "who-goes-where" for holidays.  For others, especially those in retail, they come home exhausted with hours of tasks to accomplish before they get to go to sleep.

Then there are those who wear our nation's uniform.  I saw on Facebook a post from a friend of mine who is spending his fifth Christmas away from home due to his military service.  The lyrics of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" are running thru my head, especially the line, "...if only in my dreams."  

Whatever your Christmas Eve plans are/were, I hope they were fun.  I hope you got done what you needed to and realized that it is just fine if things aren't perfect.  If you've got the people you love in your life near you, then that's all the perfection you need.

As I mentioned, I was out at my Dad's place today for a bit.  My youngest, Carly, and I stopped by and the grin that spread across his face when "Grandpa Jeno" saw her made me smile as well.

Without a doubt, the best gift is family.  And it is a gift we should gratefully experience whenever we have the chance.

Be well my friends and Merry Christmas!

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