Christmas Eve is a relaxed day in our home. The kids all slept late, and my husband and I stayed in bed until nearly 11 am. Then my daughter and Boy in Black went out to do a few errands while I began piling into laundry baskets everything that needs to be taken to my parents' house tonight: food, gifts, candy, and a box of candles. My husband and I made a quick visit to my mother-in-law to bring her a new red sweater she can wear tomorrow. Snow was beginning to fall as we drove home.
My kids are busy making the usual gifts they give their grandparents: chore coupons, to be redeemed any time my parents need a teenager to help with anything from building a dock to figuring out computer software. My daughter and I are about to wrap a few presents that were delivered earlier by the UPS truck. With-a-Why is playing the piano, and Shaggy Hair is taking a shower.
In a few minutes, we'll drive a few miles over the snowy roads to join the rest of the family at my parents' house, where we'll spend the evening. We'll crowd around my mother's small kitchen table to eat veggies and chocolate and pizza, and we'll gather in groups and pairs for conversations. We'll observe all the usual Christmas traditions, plus a top-secret one that my sister and I revived this year, with the help of Dandelion Niece and Russian Girl, an old tradition that left every surface in my kitchen sticky. At the end of the evening, we'll crowd into the living room by the tree to light candles and talk about what we are thankful for.
Random, anonymous family members during last year's candle ceremony.