There was a time when Christmas Eve was just another working day but now it has turned into one of anticipation, excitement and wonder. And that’s just for me, never mind the kids!
I used to work right up until mid-afternoon on December 24th before racing home for the mad dash to make all the last-minute preparations for the big day. To say that could be stressful is an understatement.
But since the kids came along, and in particular over the past couple of years as we’ve fallen into the rhythm of school terms, I’ve stopped for the holidays a few days beforehand. This is partly so that I can help do all the shopping, wrapping and tidying in good time, as we always host my folks over Christmas these days. But it’s primarily so that I can spend time with the kids in these magical years while they’re old enough to appreciate Christmas and young enough to still believe in the magic of Santa.
What was once a functional day of work and ticking jobs off a list has instead become one to be enjoyed and savoured.
With Christmas Day falling on a Thursday, we’ve had a particularly long run-up this year. I finished work last Friday, coinciding with the children finishing school/nursery. That means that today was a relatively free day for us to enjoy rather than dash around madder than a mad thing from Madtown.
So I’ve spent much of the day listening to the children randomly breaking into Christmas songs while pottering about myself whistling Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (the Bruce Springsteen version, natch). The kids watched Elf again before they’d even had breakfast. We’ve snow-sprayed just about every window in the house. (I won’t be winning any prizes for my artistry.) And I taught Kara the hand actions to YMCA – my work on Earth is now done.
As afternoon turned to evening, my folks arrived from London. Copious volumes of mulled wine were drunk as our kids played outside with our neighbours’. We all huddled in the street to watch
the International Space Station Santa’s sleigh fly overhead. (I’m not sure who was more excited – the kids or the grown-ups.) After our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of dim sum and random nibbles, the kids enthusiastically changed into their Christmas pyjamas and organised a spontaneous game of musical chairs before putting out a mince pie and carrot for Santa and his reindeer and heading to bed.
As I type this, it’s not yet 8:15pm and all is silent upstairs. It’s a veritable Christmas miracle to end the most enjoyable Christmas Eve I can ever remember.
According to the Dr Seuss book, it was the Grinch who stole Christmas. But, according to me, it was our children who have restored its magic and sense of wonder.
Thanks, kids – and a very merry Christmas to you all!