I remember one Christmas Eve, I woke up and got out of bed as soon as I could. (Back in those days, my mom didn’t let us get up until 7:30 when there wasn’t school.) I ran helter-skelter into my brother’s room, the door slamming against the wall in my haste. “It’s Christmas Eve!” I proclaimed to the room full of boys; my best friends. The oldest brother in the room pulled his pillow over his head, mumbling about rude little sisters. The younger two sat up and rubbed sleepy eyes, an the youngest probably said something like: “Chwissmiss Eve?” with his irresistible grin. The middle brother scrambled down from his bunk with excitement that matched mine…Christmas Eve! That meant tomorrow was Christmas!
The whole month of December, Christmas was all we thought about. One year we made snowflakes and Christmas trees out of K~Nex and suspended them from our bedroom ceilings with thread. We’d write lists of things to do to make the days go faster and we kept track with homemade red and green paper chains. Everyday we got to cut off a link and our excitement mounted as the chains got shorter.
We’d turn on our favorite Christmas music, loud, while we destroyed all sense of order in the kitchen and made homemade chocolate covered cherries and buckeyes and peppermint patties. We’d turn on the Nutcracker Suite and dance ballet – with all the imagination and adrenalin of children.
Christmas Eve couldn’t come fast enough and then it felt like the longest day of the year. From the moment we bounded out of our beds to the moment we climbed back into them – why did it seem like the day lasted forever?
Christmas Eve – the day or time period before an occasion. And this wasn’t just an occasion…this was Christmas! And what would Christmas be, without Christmas Eve?
Christmas Eve 2011. An adult now, and married, living far away from home, many years from the days of cutting festive paper chains and dancing ballet to the Nutcracker Suite. Thick flakes of pure whiteness are falling to the ground, and I’m excited for the sheer nostalgia of snow on Christmas – not because it means I get to go sledding.
I slept in this morning, rather than banging open the door to jump on my brothers and announce the eve of Christmas. I’m still lying in bed, reflecting on the quick passage of time… wishing I could be a scrawny eight-year-old in a plaid Christmas nightgown once again. Just for one day?
All of a sudden, Christmas Eve is here, and I didn’t even make one list to try to make the days of December go by faster; they just came and went. I have a sneaky suspicion that this Christmas Eve will slip away into Christmas, with the blink of an eye, and in a matter of mere moments it will be January 2012. I think it would be fun, just for the sheer nostalgia, to have a childlike December when Christmas Eve never came and never ended. When the anticipation grew every day, heart beating fast, as a link to the paper chain landed in the trashcan.
Life has changed much over the years, and I might not write make-time-go-faster to-do lists, but, I never want the rapture to end. There was a reason Jesus said to come as little children and that is one thing I don’t want to ever forget. Whether it’s a green and red paper chain, a dance to the Nutcracker Suite, or giddy pleasure at fluff falling from the sky, I want to appreciate the holy days with the holy rapture of a child – giving thanks, offering worship. To be alive to my senses – to appreciate the value of the ordinary, captivated with the beauty of faith and Jesus Christ – at Christmastime and forever.
Have a Merry Christmas Eve!