Christmastime at our house is all about tradition. From the day after Thanksgiving until the day after Christmas, our schedule follows a predictable pattern full of tradition and memories. But the day most ripe with tradition is Christmas Eve. We follow the tradition of my childhood and it is perhaps my favorite day of the year.
When we live near family, we spend Christmas Eve with them. The evening is filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, dinner, a Nativity, and toot-ta-doos followed by a gift exchange. Unfortunately, for 10 of our 18 married years, we have lived away from family. Rather than pout, we started our own tradition: The Annual Earle Family Christmas Party. We invite friends who are also away from family and have dinner, act out the Nativity, sing carols, and exchange toot-ta-doos. My children look forward to it each year.
After we clean up from the party and the last guest leaves, we log-on to NORAD to track Santa’s progress. Then it’s time to open new pajamas from Grandma Oborn, put out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for Rudolph. The kids bring down wrapped gifts that they have for each other and place them under the tree and then set out their stocking for Santa. Then it is time to read The Night Before Christmas.
Growing up, my dad read The Night Before Christmas to us every year and now he reads it to his grandchildren. While they were serving a mission in Johannesburg, South Africa, he read it over Skype.
My parents have recently returned from Johannesburg and we’re lucky enough to have them staying with us for Christmas this year! I say lucky enough because I have 9 siblings and so there are many others they could be staying with. It had been almost two years since I had seen my parents and almost three years since my children had seen them and so we are overjoyed to be spending time with them. It also means that my dad gets to read The Night Before Christmas to my children on Christmas Eve and it makes me so happy!
They brought with them a copy of a darling book called The Night Before Christmas in Africa and I captured some images of my dad reading it to my children. These images are priceless to me. There is nothing in the world like family. We are so blessed.
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