On a warm summer’s evening, a suburban house on the outskirts of Sydney is abuzz with Christmas spirit. All windows open to allow breezes to enter the house, music and voices can be heard spilling onto the cul de sac outside. Friends from a variety of backgrounds and intersecting social circles mingle, chatting as they stand on the grass in the backyard or relax on a lounge inside. Everyone looks and feels Christmassy and even the dog has Christmas ribbons tied to her collar. As with many parties, the large kitchen, located at the centre of the house, provides the focal point, with drinks prepared, finger food placed on platters and multiple conversations competing to be heard. Tonight will not be a late one, as it is Christmas Eve and most guests have family events to attend tomorrow. It is a relaxed way to end the year and everyone is happy to celebrate together. This was our Christmas Eve tradition long ago, in a faraway land, in a world before kids. Fast forward about a decade. . . .
In the family lounge room, the Christmas Tree glimmers and twinkles with fairy lights. Beneath it lay gifts, brightly wrapped and awaiting the morning. Windows are open, allowing a soft breeze to enter the house and ceiling fans buzz in every room; it is summer on the Sunshine Coast and very humid. Insects buzz and the occasional gecko can be heard clicking outside. Dinner is finished and two children, a girl and her brother, sit eagerly on the lounge, awaiting the family’s Christmas Eve tradition, the presentation of their Christmas Eve boxes. Two large cardboard boxes, decorated in Christmas designs are retrieved from under the tree and placed, one in front of each child. As the boxes are opened, the children are excited to discover a new set of Christmas pyjamas (or maybe a t-shirt), a packet of microwave popcorn, a packet of lollies, a lidded Christmas cup with straw and a new movie on DVD. After much discussion, a movie is agrred upon and selected to watch, the popcorn and a cold drink prepared, Christmas pyjamas or t-shirts are put on (along with complaints and frowns as the small children grow into large, less excited and less compliant teenagers) and the family of four settle in for a family movie night.
From our first Christmas together in 1990, my husband and I have always opened one gift on Christmas Eve. The children’s Christmas boxes were an extension of this tradition and continue in a simpler form today. Fast forward another decade…
Nowadays, our children are adults and live elsewhere, but they come home for Christmas and I do my best to continue our Christmas Eve tradition. After dinner, everyone gets a new set of Christmas pyjamas or a Christmas t-shirt. Although we don’t do DVDs any more, we do often sit together, watch Carols by Candlelight or a movie on TV and enjoy a Christmas Eve drink. I love this tradition and the others humour me, reluctantly going along with it. Last year, my daughter and I had matching nighties and an obligatory photo taken on Christmas morning. This year, along with the pjs, there is also a new body scrub for everyone, so we can wear new jammies to bed, then feel and smell good when showering on Christmas morning.
This year’s Christmas Eve sleepwear gifts seemed appropriate for my dog-loving daughter and teenage son who neither lifts nor gifts.
Do you have a special Christmas Eve tradition at your place? Wishing you a wonderful Christmas.