Christmas Eve, all my growing up life, was a feast full of family at my Grandma and Grandpa Young’s. Their tiny four room house filled with Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, cousins of every age and extended members who just belonged to us.
The tree took up a fourth of the living room and there were presents, collected all year, for everyone in attendance……somehow we kids seemed to get exactly what we had begged for. As each family arrived, the presents swelled with their additions and our anticipation rose exponentially.
Everyone brought their own offerings to the banquet. The tiny kitchen had food literally everywhere. My Mom would bring a fruit platter with dip and her cheese spread and crackers – she was the expert with party foods. Aunt Sally was good at desserts. My Grandmother had been cooking for days. Everyone’s contribution was met with anticipation. We ate turkey and ham and noodles and sage dressing and oyster dressing for Kent, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows, green beans (my Grandma must have given her recipe to Cracker Barrel), mashed potatoes and gravy and jello salads and relish trays and sweet rolls to die for, and pies and cookies and divinity, caramels, pralines, fudge and Carolers fudge my Aunt ‘Cile would make for me. We did justice to all of it. My Dad would pile his food, saying “it was all going the same place anyway”. We ate in the kitchen, in the living room, in the bedroom and under the table.
As wonderful as the food was, it was also “in the way” of some serious gift opening. Sometimes we drew names. We wanted to be picked to help pass out presents. We wanted to watch every single person open their gifts, but we didn’t want to wait that long. If I could watch now, I’m sure it was bedlam and we loved it. My grandparents had a time opening all the gifts they received and we were just as excited to give those gifts as we were to receive.
As things wound down, more food was nibbled or packaged to take home. The pile of coats disassembled itself as Dads warmed up cars and hauled the gifts out. Moms corralled kids into mittens and gloves, with hugs and kisses passed out. If you were slow to leave, there was plenty of paper and boxes to pick up for burning in the next few days.
It really was a night where Love was passed around, over and over, until we were sure everyone had gotten more than their usual share. We wish you such a wonderful Christmas Eve tonight, if only in your heart!