“Christmas Eve, and the tree blazed with lights.”

Christmas Eve is the second most popular day of the year. It is the longest day, not by the calendar but for every kid who can hardly wait for Santa. I remember wanting to go to bed around 5 or 6 figuring the night would pass far more quickly if I were sleeping, but the actual bedtime never really mattered. It took forever to fall asleep.

Today is rainy and warm, in the high 40’s. The sky is gray, but it isn’t a gray day as today has sort of a light of its own, the glow of Christmas Eve. The trees and all the Christmas lights in the house are lit. They are so beautiful.

I have some baking to do, but I wanted to finish here first. The TV is on, and I have to admit it isn’t Hallmark. It is the Syfy channel and The Abominable Snowman, the something out there, hardly festive fare.

My parents used to have a party on Christmas Eve. My father was never a fan until everyone came, and the party got going. He always had a great time. The guests were mostly relatives, my aunts and uncles. There was always singing, eating and drinking. The dining room table, groaning from all the food, was pushed to the wall. The kitchen counter served as the bar. The benches at the table in the kitchen were always filled. The living room was mostly empty. People gravitated to the kitchen and just stayed there. That’s always where the singing started. I can still see my dad standing beside the counter singing with wondrous enthusiasm.

My mother and I always cleaned up, but it was a special time for the two of us. We’d chat while cleaning, finish up, pour Irish coffees and sit in the living room. We’d put on a Christmas movie. We’d open one special present. We stayed up late. I loved those Christmas Eves.

Tonight my friends and I will put together our gingerbread houses. We won’t talk. We won’t socialize. We’ll be so intent upon the decorations that the houses will hold our full attention. That always makes me chuckle. We have this great time even without conversation.

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas, my friends!

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19 Comments on ““Christmas Eve, and the tree blazed with lights.””

  1. Spaceman Says:

    What a warm scene you paint! And reminiscence the wonderful days gone past.

  2. flyboybob Says:

    Rarely does Christmas Eve and the first night of Chanukah occur on the same evening. While Christian kids are waiting for Santa to arrive their Jewish counterparts have already received their first gift of the holiday. The tradition of giving kids gifts on Chanukah started by the parents giving the kids coins to play the gambling game with the dreidel. Later the real coins were substituted with chocolate coins wrapped in silver or gold foil. Somehow the giving of the coins, in Yiddish, the word is gelt, became giving the kids gifts.

    Detailed directions for playing the dreidel game:
    Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn. Depending on which player side is facing up when it stops spinning, they give or take game pieces from the pot:
    a) If נ‎ (nun) facing up, the player does nothing.
    b) If ג‎ (gimel) is facing up, the player gets everything in the pot.
    c) If ה‎ (he) is facing up, the player gets half of the pieces in the pot. (If there are an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes the half the pot rounded up to the nearest whole number)
    d) If ש‎ (shin) or פ‎ (pe) is facing up, the player adds a game piece to the pot (often accompanied with the chant “Shin, Shin, put one in”[9]). In some game versions a Shin results in adding three game pieces to the pot (one for each stem of the Shin).
    If the player is out of pieces, they are either “out” or may ask another player for a “loan”.

    I assume that today’s kids can download a digital dreidel to play on their iPhones. 🙂

    Most Jews in the United States ancestors came from Eastern Europe and Chanukah parties include a dinner of brisket, potato pancakes and some kind of vegetable. Personally, I would rather have a Christmas dinner with baked ham.

    It’s another pleasant but cloudy and foggy day here in North Texas. Right now it’s 65 degrees. We might hit 70 degrees for the high today and tomorrow. I wonder how folks in places like Hawaii get into the Holiday season when it’s nice and warm every day of the year. Or, do our Australian cousins go to the beach on Christmas Day?

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I always put Gelt in Christmas stockings. You never know when chocolate coins will come in handy.

      I have a dreidel a friend gave me. She taught us how to play the game, but that was a long time back, and I’d forgotten. Thanks for giving us the directions. I’ll have to bring out my dreidel tonight.

      I’m thinking a digital dreidel wouldn’t be much fun. It lacks spinning.

      I would love that Chanukah dinner. It has been a long while since I last had brisket.

      People who don’t have snow haven’t ever had it so a green Christmas is usual. It was like that in Ghana. Nobody missed snow. They didn’t even know what it was. They still celebrated!!

      Happy Chanukah, Bob!!

  3. im6 Says:

    Holiday greetings to Kat and to everyone in her marvelously inclusive KTCC family. Hope you have a wonderful December 25 no matter where you are in this big wide world or how you celebrate the big day. Thanks to all for making my life a little brighter, more entertained and better informed. And here’s to more laughs, tears and shared memories in the year ahead. Peace and love to all.

  4. Hedley Says:

    We are in the holding pattern. Too early to get changed for church, the dishwasher is running, Mrs MDH is in the kitchen and our son and wife are due by 4:00 pm. Stupid green bay are winning which means our trip to Dallas will be academic – it will be all or nothing at Ford Field on the first.

    Im6 says stuff better than what i do, so I am going ditto

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I am taking a breather having just finished a pie. I need to do one cookies batch then get my antipasto plate ready for tonight’s festivities.

      The Pats are winning 20-0 close to the half.

      Thanks to you too for also being such a wonderful member of the family!

  5. Birgit Says:

    Tonight is the night!
    Quick Christmas greetings between incense (catholic service just because my friend sang) and salmon (Christmas dinner is in the oven), gifts later in the evening. I already got Polish sweets from my neighbor, very delicious.
    Merry Christmas – God Jul – Chanukah Sameach – Happy Holidays
    to everyone!

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I am on a break from baking and cooking. The corn dip is ready for the oven, the cookies are finished, the chocolate pie is in the fridge, and I’ve almost got the kitchen cleaned. I can start on my goodies for tonight and the gingerbread houses. I have an hour before my friends come-plenty of time!

      Merry Christmas, Birgit!!

  6. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I scored a fruit tart and an apple pie plus ice cream and some cookies on my bakery quest. There will be more than just Grand Marnier for dessert tomorrow.

    I made one last run to the pet store to get gifts for the cat nieces and nephew. I am done. The dogs and I are curled up on the couch. They are sleeping. I am wondering why my router is flashing yellow yet everything is working normally. Last time there was an update. Not the case this time. Oh, well.

    Happy Gingerbread House building and Merry Christmas.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      You did well! You can’t go wrong with apple pie and ice cream.

      Maddie, Gracie and I are resting. The dining room is no longer a construction site, my friends went home full and happy, and we all decorated great houses!

      The evening was wonderful.

      I am now watching A Christmas Carol, one I haven’t seen this year, the one with Reginald Owen.

      Gracie is snoring. She played with her new toy and ate three biscuits, all gifts. Maddie is asleep on the chair. It has been a great Christmas Eve.

  7. lilydark Says:

    I’m glad you had such a wonderful evening. The first night of Chanukkah was always the most special night, with the special dinner, and the main present given.

    Enjoy tomorrow.

    Much Love,
    Lori and the gang.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Lori,

      Happy Hanukkah! I hope yours was a wonderful evening too.

      Tomorrow we exchange gifts and have Christmas dinner. The festivities continue!

  8. olof1 Says:

    Our big day passed and I have to say that I’ve never seen so much rubbish on tv 🙂 Only the channel where I can’t get any sound from had good christmas movies, like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It didn’t matter that much that I didn’t have any sound, I know it by heart now and I laughed just as much as always 🙂

    I managed to make the ham and it was pretty tasty 🙂 It did actually snow for a while but I think the rain cleaned up it all before the night got cold.

    Have a Happy Christmas!

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      Our big day is still ahead of us with opening presents and having a big dinner. It will be a fun day.

      Some of my favorite glasses are the moose eggnog glasses from Christmas Vacation. My sister gave them to me a few years ago.

      I’m glad your dinner was tasty.

      Merry Christmas, Christer!

  9. William Sandford Says:

    Happy Christmas Kat. Kev and Lisa and families will be here later for late brunch and gifts. The train is circling the tree and the lights are on at 5 a.m. Even Milo the dog gets gifts–frisbee and treats. Later we will travel to Nashua to see Peg’s dad. He is going to Florida on Jan. 1, probably for the last time. We’ll see him there for his 94th B’day in Feb.
    Enjoy the day and greetings to the pets.

    • katry Says:

      Merry Christmas, Bill and Peg

      I imagine your house is jumping now. It is quiet here. The festivities for Christmas Eve were here so today I go to Tony and Clare’s for dinner and presents.

      My lights were on until 3 then off until 10 this morning. I do love Christmas lights.

      Have a wonderful day with your family. Love to all!!

      Merry Christmas!!


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