Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas The Night Before Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and everyone you meet is near to burst because tomorrow is their favorite day of the year! 

Not I.

Though I do love Christmas, for me, the best day is today!  Christmas Eve.  My dear Reader, you know that I love to set a stage and there is none other set like there will be tonight!

I have spent a little over a month getting my props just so.  Every detail is thought out.  It starts with the Christmas decorations and is even in the careful consideration of the wrapping paper and ribbons.  I feel the wrapped gifts are just as much apart of the decor as the ornaments on the tree.  Every year I choose a color scheme and stick to it.  This year I went with silver and green simply because I had scads of silver and green ribbon left over from a Homecoming party Caren and I decorated for.

Then there are the advents.  We have several.  One is a large wooden box fixed with 25 doors.  Behind each door is either a piece of candy or a piece of paper with instructions for getting in the Christmas spirit, i.e. call your uncle, watch a Christmas special, kiss under the mistletoe, etc.  Upon our move to Colorado we began another type of advent with our chalk board wall.  On it I draw a full sized Christmas tree and each day one of the kids draws an ornament on it.  This has been nice because the child who does not open a door on the other advent gets to draw the new ornament.  Tomorrow's child gets to draw the star at the top of our chalk tree!  Gabriel has already confessed to me BIG plans for this year's sketch.  And finally we have an advent that is just for the week before Christmas.  It was a gift given to us when Drew was just a babe, called What God Wants For Christmas.

I have found this to be a wonderful tool for both counting down to the big day but also preparing my young boys' hearts for what our family is really celebrating.  This advent is a nativity.  Each day a short poem is read based on the events told in Luke 2:1-20.  Inside the advent are 7 boxes.  After a poem is read, the boys get to open one of the seven gift boxes.  They are numbered so they can be opened in order.  Each box contains a character of the nativity.  Finally on the seventh day we get to open the box to see what God wants for Christmas and it's....I can't tell you!  I would hate to ruin the surprise in case you get one of these yourselves!  I cry every year.  I actually arrange it so that the seventh box is opened on Christmas Eve so that my kids can go to bed with the beautiful imagery the advent provides to ponder in their hearts.

The night before Christmas....truly the most magical of all nights!  Just before bed we cram the whole family onto the couch poised before a roaring fire.  I will lead a few Christmas lullabies that are favorites of the boys followed by someone reading Twas The Night Before Christmas (either Aaron or a special guest.)  Aaron then reads Luke 2:1-20 to the boys and we wrap up the bed time stories with our What God Wants For Christmas Advent.  Then with special care, the boys prepare a plate of Santa's favorite cookies (Sombreros/peanut butter cookies with a Hershey kiss in the middle) and a cup of eggnog.  Both are lovingly placed on the fire place hearth where they wait for our dear Santa.

We tuck the boys in with a special Christmas Eve prayer and then Aaron and I retire to the basement to work on a jigsaw puzzle or to watch a Christmas special or both.  We have a glass or two of eggnog ourselves (with plenty of nog) and wait until the boys are sound asleep.  When we see that the sugar plumbs are dancing, we pull out the Santa Gifts.  They are specially labeled from the North Pole and have a unique ribbon tied about them.  The stockings get stuffed.  The cookies are eaten and typically something near the fireplace is disturbed as proof that Santa had made an entrance.

And then I in my kerchief and Aaron in his cap will finally settle down for a long winters nap....(except that the anticipation is too delicious!!!)

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