Christmas Eve-Eve is special

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve — it’s the day before, the day before the big day arrives.

I hear Daddy’s voice when I say it’s Christmas Eve Eve. That was how he greeted us on this day and it served to intensify what was already more excitement than our bodies could hold.

We were vibrating bubbles of anticipation and the hours crept by at a snail’s pace. The air was electric and everything shone with a glow of holiday magic.

Was Santa packing the sleigh? What weather awaited his flight? Would Rudolph’s service be required to guide the jolly old elf to our roof top?

All the questions spun around in our Christmas-fogged brains. Of course, Daddy enjoyed contributing to our holiday tension.

“I think I spotted an elf sneaking around the house earlier,” he’d say with the hint of a smile and a glance in Mother’s direction. “I hope he sees children behaving themselves this close to Christmas.”

How hard it was to behave, to be calm, to be quiet, when every nerve in our bodies begged for release. Surely Santa understood the difficulty we faced as we counted the minutes until we beheld treasures beyond imagination.

Christmas Eve Eve was harder to bear than Christmas Eve. The day before contained more activity, more things to keep the mind occupied, the body busy.

Stockings must be located. Plans for leaving out cookies, milk and a note needed finalizing. Not a minute to waste on this the last day, the countdown to the launch into gift heaven.

Ah, but the day before that last day was different. It sat just around the corner from where we wanted to be. So close yet so removed. The eve of the eve — what was a child to do on such a day?

I laugh when I remember how it felt to live in that place of barely contained internal chaos, when the world shimmered with light and wonder. How quickly that time passed. How soon the wonder gave way to the serious busyness of being grown up during the holidays.

The hurry of the last minute rush replaced the excitement of waiting, the joy of imagining. Christmas Eve Eve lost the luster and became just another day of doing the things grownups do this time of year, checking stuff off the to-do list.

I overheard a conversation between two women who obviously have young children. They bemoaned the commercialization of Christmas, complaining about gifts they needed to mail to distant family.

“Christmas should just be about kids,” one said.

“That’s exactly right,” the other one said.

“Next year I think adults should forget gifts for each other.”

As I listened I admit something inside of me rebelled. That kid of the long ago Christmas Eve Eve experience resurfaced and cringed at the thought of gifts on Christmas morning vanishing. Even more distasteful was the idea of not having the fun of watching other big people dive into the gifts I’d chosen for them.

Yes, there is probably too much emphasis on spending and a bit of overindulgence on the part of some folks, but I’m sorry Christmas is about gifts and giving. It is about appreciating the abundance of being alive, the lights and music, the magic of a heart open to possibilities and imagination.

After all, it is the holiday that celebrates the creator’s gift of love to a world that so sorely needs it.

So, this Christmas Eve Eve I’m giving myself permission to let childhood excitement light my soul and warm my being. And I invite you to join me and let your hearts be light and your spirits be jolly.

In fact, I think I spied an elf hiding behind a big oak tree — and as my Daddy always said, I hope you are all behaving this close to Christmas.