It all begins on Christmas Eve just before midnight. I get home from midnight mass with Mom, Dad, Erika, and Emma. We all indulge in a little bit of snacking and perhaps another glass of wine before bed. There is chatter and laughter, and even though my eyes seem to be ready for bed, my body is wide awake from the adrenaline rush of singing. Eventually, Mom retires to bed followed by the rest of us though Emma and Dad may stay up for a little while longer to keep snacking or cook up some eggs.
I always go to bed with the warmest feeling of Christmas spirit and joy, already excited to wake up for presents. What I’m most excited for isn’t even receiving presents because deep down I couldn’t care less about it. It’s the joy that I see on everyone’s faces when they open their gifts even though we sometimes think they are stupid. It’s the laughter that fills the room when the gift is not only perfect, but hilarious. It’s the tears that fall when the gift is more than they expected and something so thoughtful and heartwarming.
Before I know it, it’s time to wake up. The house is still quiet aside from the faint sound of my sister’s alarms going off so we can make the annual morning coffee run. We take turns driving every year but no matter what, we always joke about that one Christmas morning coffee run snapchat video from years ago that is still funny to the whole family any time of the year.
When we return, the house is already filled with the mouthwatering smells of scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls and we’re met with the sight of champagne and orange juice. Emma or I are usually the most excited to start opening presents. While everyone else dilly-dallys in the kitchen, the two of you are anxiously waiting and plotting the attack on the mountains of gifts underneath the various colors and shines of wrapping paper. One by one, Dad and Erika make their way and claim their spot around the tree and of course, we wait several more minutes for mom to finish showering, going to the bathroom for the 4th time this morning, or swiffering the floor. When mom is finally ready, we all submit to our child-like tendencies and can now barely contain our excitement.
The first gift of Christmas has traditionally gone to the youngest or oldest in the room, depending on the year. One by one, gifts are unwrapped, mouths are smiling, stomachs hurt from laughing, and hearts are pouring over with joy. By the end of gift opening and a finishing off a couple of mimosas, we are all sleepy once again. Though as tradition has it, it’s time to throw on a movie and doze off into an early afternoon nap. Not me, though. As sleepy as I feel, I am much too stubborn to let the tradition to watch the entire movie end.
On this day especially, I look around at my family with a heart full of love, joy, and gratitude and I admire the amount of kindness, strength, fun, and appreciation in the room. I would not trade this family or this love for anything else in the whole world. This is truly the greatest day of the year.