Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the entire year. It is the day that all other days lead up to. The Stone Family Christmas eve adheres to strict traditions. First, the attendees. Once our extended family got large enough that each family wanted to have Christmas at their own house, we started inviting out second family, the friends who are another sort family. For the past 9 years or so it has been the same bunch of three or four families, plus a couple extras. We have grown up together, despite different colleges, career paths, dating and breaking up with each other’s children, etc. We walk our separate ways much of the year, but come Christmas Eve, everyone is accounted for. Next, the meal. Always fondue. Several varieties of cheese with a multitude of dipping items for the main course, then a variety of sweet dips for dessert. Every year, without fail, we burn one. This year, the white chocolate fondue took a foul turn. What would Christmas Eve be without a pile of congealing dip in the trash? There are always more people than chairs, so we just kind of overflow leaving trails of Christmas napkins and fondue skewers in our wake.
After dinner, the program starts. My family takes Advent seriously, and every year the four weeks of devotions (centering around a different theme each year) culminate in the Christmas Eve Program. The events begin with the children performing a skit. This tradition began when the “kids” meant toddlers and elementary kids underfoot, as well as angsty middle schoolers too cool to participate. It was mainly a ploy to get us out of the way while the adults cleaned up from dinner. The youngest “kid” is now 16 and the eldest finished his masters last year. We count in our number 2 spouses, a fiancé, one Oxford masters student, one seminary masters student, and multiple college degrees. Yet we are kids till we create kids, we have been told. So every year, we try to make our skit worse and worse in hopes that we will not have to do it next year. One year this meant a Blair Witch live Christmas film, and another meant tying up people in Christmas lights while we chanted existential phrases. Last year, we were given a break, and ironically, we all felt cheated. This year, back to the stage in an improv number included a Palestinian terrorist, a ninja, and a poinsettia cell phone. Ridiculous, yes. But taking a photo of all the “kids” lined up afterwards, seeing how we have grown up together, reminded me why I love our silly skits. (In case any one is panicked looking at the picture, that is a toy gun which served as another prop in our horrendous Christmas skit)
After an amazing devotion from my dad, where there are often wet eyes in the crowd, we move to the Christmas tree for carols. The Taylor family always leads the singing, as they have more musical talent than is fair for one family. With Ben on piano and my dad on guitar, we sing our way through the carol books with cheesy cartoon drawings from the early 90s. After traditional renditions, we sing our way through many songs again, only the second time we inflict the tunes of the Gilligan’s Island Theme and House of The Rising Sun on the poor innocent carols.
Every year, sitting crammed in the living room, I remember why we celebrate Christmas. God became flesh and dwelt among man so that we may someday dwell forever with Him. We spend the day in with those we love, waiting in eager anticipation for the coming of Him we love the most. Merry Christmas.