Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve! I've always liked Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. When I was little it always seemed more rowdy. I love that sense of anticipation and excitement for the next day. On actual Christmas that's kind of gone. The day always seems more solemn.

In my family, even though we aren't actual Italians (that we know of) we do the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We have an enormous Italian meal with all kinds of seafood and pasta, baked fish and on lucky years, lobster. It's probably better than what we have for Christmas dinner. Then we gorge on cookies and fizzy cocktails and talk about how we want to go to Midnight Mass, but we never make it because someone gets drunk, someone else gets tired or we just stay up too late talking and forget what time it is. It's a lot of fun. I love it.

I have great childhood memories of Christmas Eve as well. My grandparents used to have what they called "Open House" where all their friends would come over for drinks and snacks. My grandmother made big platters of rolled up deli meats and cheeses, which she'd serve with potato rolls and chips and dips. Christmas Eve was the only night when we had ginger ale, so it was very special. Often, we'd have punch with lime sherbet floating in it. I loved this too. Then, we'd go to a candlelight service at church and then drive around town looking at Christmas lights and the nativity scenes in front of all the churches in town. The Episcopal church had the best one.

Then one year, a man no one knew, who lived on a lone country road in a big farmhouse, bought an animatronic nativity scene from a mall that had closed down and put it in his front yard! I had never seen something so beautiful in my entire life and it caused a huge sensation in Millpond. The figures were life sized and wore real cloth outfits. The animals had actual fur! They blinked their eyes and turned their heads. Really, words just can't describe this nativity scene. It was so lavishly over the top and it was in our little town. Most of the churches just had two dimensional wood cut-outs for their creches. When this man put out his nativity scene, people from three counties started driving to see it and the cars would line up down the country road to crawl past it and marvel at its beauty. I remember wanting to just stop and stand and stare at it. Last year, when I was home for Christmas I went past to see if he still did it, but I couldn't find it. I wonder what ever happened to it. Wherever that man is and whatever happened to that nativity scene, I would just like him to know how much joy it brought not just me, but our whole little town. We felt so special having something like that in Millpond. I have searched the web over and over to find a picture of it or one like it, but to no avail. If my memory serves me correctly, the nativity had originally come from a JC Penney window display.

I've always thought nativities were so beautiful. In Millpond and surrounding areas, every church had one in the churchyard, but every church up there also has a graveyard too. It's not like that in Florida at all and I miss it. There is only one church that I've found down here that has a real nativity scene. It's a Catholic church and they don't put Baby Jesus in the manger until tomorrow morning. That always cracked me up for some reason.

Right now as I write, I hear church bells ringing. It's cloudy outside. It feels like Christmas; not like in Millpond where they're having one hell of a white Christmas this year, but Christmas-y still.

I just wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas memories with you as you are all, hopefully, making your own tonight, and of course, if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a lovely evening still.


Melanie said...

Thanks for taking time to post, even in the midst of this busy time of year. I get a lot of enjoyment out of reading your memories of Millpond. Reminds me of my own Christmases Past.

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