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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Chatterings

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!  Unless you happen to live in New Zealand, Australia, or some eastern parts of Asia.  For you guys, it is already Christmas Day.  In which case, I hope Santa was awesome to those of you living in Sydney, Melbourne, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, and every place in between.

For the majority of the world, though, it is December 24, and it is also Day #24 for THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR.  I know, we're almost at the end!  So quickly this month has flown by, hasn't it?

I will tell you this...I am quite happy that Christmas Eve is here.  This is probably one of my favourite days of the year.  Mind you, it wasn't always the case.  And, in this edition of WHO AM I WEDNESDAY, I talk about Christmas Eve.  I talk about why I didn't like it that much when I was a child, what changed my mind about it, some of the traditions that I associate with Christmas Eve, and why I admittedly get a little bit misty eyed whenever I think about Christmas Eve.

December 24, 2014

How is it that Christmas Day is tomorrow?  I can't believe it!  And in a little more than a week, 2014 will be just another page in the history books as we welcome 2015 in with open arms!  I swear, the older we get, the faster time flows.

Anyway, Christmas Eve is here, and I absolutely love it.  The prospects of my town having a white Christmas this year is admittedly a little bit questionable, but at least we'll have a white Christmas Eve.  And as people open up the final door on their chocolate advent calendars, and decide on what treats they will leave behind for Santa Claus, I can't help but think of my own experiences of Christmas Eve from my childhood.

To be truthful, I found Christmas Eve to be more of an annoyance than a good thing when I was really young.

Let's put it like this.  No child likes to wait for anything.  I was definitely one of those kids who asked "Are we there yet?" every ten seconds when we would go out on car trips.  And, I was definitely the kind of kid who would absolutely be antsy on Christmas Eve.  Imagine seeing a whole bunch of beautifully wrapped gifts underneath a Christmas tree just waiting to be unwrapped.  And imagine being forced to wait twenty-four long hours before being allowed to open them all up. 

As a kid, it was pure torture.  I even got so desperate that I chewed the corners off of some gifts just so I could find out what they were so that I knew what I could expect.  That plan lasted all of fifteen minutes before I was busted.  What could I say though?  At least I tried to think outside the box!

Now, we were allowed to open up one gift every Christmas Eve morning...and of course, the gift that we had to open was wrapped in a special way so that every year, our gift was always a pair of pajamas.  Of course, as an adult looking back on it, I completely understand it.  Our parents wanted us to have new pajamas to wear on Christmas morning.  The child in me was upset that I always seemed to "pick" the gift that contained pajamas year after year.  But, again, who can argue with tradition?

But, as I grew older, I began to appreciate the little things that came with a Christmas Eve celebration.  For one, I remember that for many years, we would go to my aunt's place where my mother's side of the family would all meet up for a Christmas Eve party.  It was good to see all the cousins and enjoy a lot of great food.  This continued until my grandfather's death in 2001.  I suppose after he died, it didn't make sense to continue it.

Of course, there were little fun things that my own family did on Christmas Eve.  We would turn on the tree early so that we could have the lights on most of the day.  I would go through the house and find some food that I thought Santa would like, and I would leave behind a marker in case he wanted to write me a note back.  For some reason, he never did.  I suppose he was sleep-deprived though.  He did always deliver gifts in the wee hours of the morning, after all.

These days, my Christmas Eve celebrations are a little bit on the quiet side.  Well, okay, maybe not this year.  This year, I have to work the Christmas Eve shift.  But that is fine with me, as I am off at six o'clock in the evening, which gives me plenty of time to share an Oriental Party Pack with the parents.  It sounds like a nice way to end the day.

Actually, if I remember correctly, a lot of my Christmas Eve memories stem from family gatherings and spending time with them.  And in a way, it makes me happy and proud to have had so many memories with them.  But at the same time, I am quickly realizing that the greatest gifts of all during Christmas Eve are not something that can be found in a box, a gift bag, or bought with a gift card.  The greatest gift you can give anyone over the holidays is time.

And believe me...time is precious.  This Christmas is going to be extra special because my mother is out of the hospital and is improving each and every day.  But when I think back to early October when she was so sick, it really woke me up to the realization that my time with my family is limited.  It makes me nervous and sad to think about Christmas without the ones I love the most in this world, and I honestly don't want to even entertain that possibility for another ten, twenty, even thirty years from now.  Unfortunately, we cannot pick and choose when our time to go is, and we cannot ask Santa Claus to give us an immortality potion for Christmas because there is no such thing.

The only thing we can do is just enjoy the time that we have with our loved ones right now while they are still here with us.  And that is exactly what I plan to do on this and every holiday from here on out.

And I encourage all of you to do the same.  In fact, I want you all to make me a promise right now.  Immediately after reading this post, turn off your cell phones.  Shut off your iPad minis.  Disconnect the tablets.  If possible, shut off a light or two.  Sit back with your family and just watch the beauty of the lights, the twinkling of the ornaments, and think about all of the wonderful memories you shared, are sharing, and are going to share for this and every holiday. 

The conclusion to the advent calendar will be posted tomorrow on Christmas Day.

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