Christmas Eve has changed a lot in my house over the last few years. I'm going through my second adulthood it appears, putting away childish excitement and dealing with the day-to-day. Evidently the rest of the world is doing the same. I'm seeing all kinds of post Christmas sales, store hours opening on Christmas, and the local McDonalds is open all day on Christmas. Weird. I remember when the whole town used to shut down for Christmas, except for 7-11. Now it's like the holiday is hardly a speedbump on the way to the end of the year.
As the father of five kids, Christmas Eve always promise a special kind of mischief all its own. Kids remained underfoot while my wife and I baked and tried to finish wrapping presents in secret, and struggled not to go crazy.
Then my four oldest kids grew up and moved away. My 13 year old gets excited about Christmas these days, something he didn't do when he was younger, to the chagrin of his siblings. They could wake him up on Christmas morning and he'd just go back to sleep. They got aggravated because I always held that no one could open presents until everyone was opening presents. Then we all opened them in order and celebrated what was received.
This year my mom passed away and we don't have the Christmas journey to make that was always a standard, weather permitting.
Over the years, the promise and wonder of Christmas has seemed to have gotten more tarnished than ever. I've never been a big Christmas person. The season has always gotten on my nerves because there are tense people everywhere. It took me years to figure that out. I didn't know why I didn't enjoy Christmas the way other people did, but I never have. Still don't. I tend to pick up on emotional energy from people around me, which is why I seldom get around in groups and only do so when I'm teaching or doing presentations. Being around others exhaust me. It's a wonder I survived a houseful of kids, but now I understand why I'd come home worn out from teaching, coaching, and conventions.
All those things I do out of love, but they take a toll on me.
Today Sherry is watching two of the grandkids while trying to bake. Needless to say, she'll be exhausted by end of day. Chandler is playing WOW, hoping to level up enough today to become a Death Knight.
And I'm working, thinking about Christmases past. When my brothers and I were small, we all had to sleep in the same bed on Christmas Eve. We got very little sleep but the excitement of the day always tired us out. My older kids were like that too. Chandler has reminded us over the last few days how many days were left to Christmas. He's excited, but that hasn't deterred him from killing orcs or goblins or trolls or whatever it is he's battling.
Tomorrow we'll be joining one of my boys at his house for Christmas supper. Lately we've been able to get together as a family again. All of us were together for my birthday, and nearly all of us were together for oldest Matt's birthday. Sherry and I have got to build an addition onto the house so we can fit all of us into the house for family nights.
For me, the togetherness is best of all. So maybe some things haven't changed.