Christmas eve and Christmas day both important. Most Italian-Americans give a bit more attention to Christmas Eve.
Whether the day before Christmas or Christmas day itself, each I would describe as a conspiracy of love. Even relatives who avoid each other all year, bury their animosities. Everyone kumbaya.
The dinner the night of Christmas Eve a big deal. The end of several days of preparation. The day itself further preparation.
Cooking smells permeate the house. A big fish dinner ahead. Seven fishes.
In spite of all the preparation and planning, there are snafus. Last minutes ones. Additional groceries to buy. Last minute gift shopping. Grandma getting her hair done. Wrapping presents (takes forever and many hands), setting the table, finish decorating the tree, some one cannot make it on time, etc.
The conspiracy of love is pure confusion! It reaches its high point and ultimate reward when all sit down to dinner. Anywhere from 10 to 30 guests.
Card tables set up all over the place. Age determines who sits at the dining room table. Some adults are still relegated to the card tables at 25. Since tiny tots. Waiting to move up.
The meal spectacular! Grandmom and Mom did their usual best. Everyone enjoys! Grandmom and Mom taking special pleasure in seeing their family seated all around and enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Which brings me to a comparable story. One involving confusion leading to Christmas warmth. And a special reward!
Joan Lunden for more than 20 years was host of Good Morning America. When she left, she turned to writing. Became an acclaimed journalist.
Eighteen years ago, Emotional Health printed one of her short stories. It was about Santa Claus and a bad day he was experiencing Christmas eve day.
Four of Santa’s elves were sick. The trainer elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones.
Santa began to feel pressure.
Mrs. Santa told him her mother was coming. Such increased Santa’s stress more.
Santa went out to harness the reindeer. Not all were in shape to travel the skies that evening. Three were about to give birth. Two others had jumped the fence. To where, Santa knew not.
Santa began to load the sleigh. One of the floor boards cracked and a toy bag fell to the ground. Toys scattered all over.
Santa had had it for the moment. He needed a drink. Went inside for a cup of apple cider and shot of rum.. He went to the cupboard. Only to discover that the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor.
He accidentally dropped the empty cider jug. Broke into hundreds of pieces all over the kitchen floor.
Santa went to get the broom to clean up. Only to discover the mice had eaten all the straw at the end of the broom.
Just then, the door bell rang. The noise further irritated Santa. Obviously not having a good day.
He rushed to the door and yanked it open. There stood an angel. Holding a large Christmas tree.
The angel said cheerfully, “Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn’t this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?”
The thrust of the story. After all the exasperations experienced, there finally comes a time when joy abounds. The angel at Santa’s door with the tree, the Italian family sitting down to Christmas eve dinner.
Another reason, also. The story explains the tradition why in many homes, a little angels sits at the top of the Christmas tree.
Love Christmas Eve! I look forward tonight to dinner with Lisa and the family.
Enjoy your day!