The night before Christmas, the night filled with tradition

The holiday season is upon us, and families around the world have begun their traditions for whichever holiday they celebrate (photo by Audrey DeAngelis)

The holiday season is upon us, and families around the world have begun their traditions for whichever holiday they celebrate. Some may be left behind as time goes on, but those traditions that stay, stay for generations. 

In my household, for as long as I can remember, our Christmas Eve has a very set schedule, basically with a to-do list to follow. My family has a handful of traditions that have stuck around, and my sister and I plan on passing these down in our own families. 

Of course, as most families that celebrate Christmas do, we put up our (fake) tree and decorate our house from floor to ceiling with anything with a snowflake on it, basically the day after Thanksgiving. But when it comes to Christmas Eve, we have a few more traditions that we like to call our own. 

Starting off bright and early on Dec. 24th, my dad, sister, and I head out to iHop to eat whatever seasonal pancake and hot chocolate they are serving this year. With my sister and I on one side of the booth and my dad on the other, we talk about how the next 48 hours are going to go. Each year, Dad posts a photo on Facebook of my sister and me with our hot chocolates, us in the same pose every time.

This year’s annual Christmas hot chocolate Facebook post, featuring the drink we never actually finish (photo by Mark DeAngelis)

Then, after we fill up on our sugary breakfast, we head out to the mall to shop for my mother. Yes, at 8 A.M. on Christmas Eve. Every year. Of course, we have learned from our past mistakes and we get most of our shopping done ahead of time. But to continue the tradition, we leave a few things to the last minute. We have been able to get in and out of the mall in about an hour and are home by 10 A.M. 

Next up on the list is the wrapping. While my mom is out with one of her friends for breakfast or locked up in her room doing wrapping of her own, the three of us quickly finish up whatever we have left to put under the tree. 

This year, there was a little bump in the schedule, as my sister and I had to go to work, so the rest of the night got pushed back a bit. 

For dinner, we get Chinese food, which is for some reason very popular on this night. No one in my family actually likes Chinese food, so we aren’t 100% sure why we continue getting it every year. And, we always get way too much but never cut down our order. The leftovers are then eaten throughout the week, again, even though none of us like it all that much. 

After the dishes are done, the four of us sit down on the couch with the tree lit and watch a movie. For the past five-ish years, the movie of choice has been Love, Actually, which isn’t really a Christmas movie, but it takes place during the holiday season. But then again, some people consider Die Hard a Christmas movie, so it can’t be a crazy claim for this film. 

My family has an unhealthy obsession with the movie and we watch it while we open presents on Christmas morning, and sometimes even another time during the day.

We read “The Night Before Christmas”, my sister and I switching off every other page. (photo by Audrey DeAngelis)

Before we head off to bed for the night, we read The Night Before Christmas, my sister and I switching off every other page. We have had the same copy for at least my whole life and my sister has already called dibs on taking it for her children in the future. Then, it’s time for bed. 

My mom has been fighting for our family to be that family that wears matching pjs, and we finally agreed, except my dad. We will have to see how the first time around goes to decide whether or not this will become a new yearly occurrence. 

Unfortunately, we are not one of the lucky families that open a present on Christmas Eve. Even though the supporters outweigh the one opposer, my mom, we still haven’t been able to open one, just have to wait for the morning. Fingers crossed this decision gets overturned soon. 

Traditions change over time, they evolve and some of them disappear altogether, but I cherish the ones we have, even if I can’t wrap my head around all of them. I’m just happy the whole family is able to be together, which has been especially important to me with all that has changed this year. 

So, if you celebrate Christmas, have a merry Christmas and if you don’t, then have a happy holiday season and enjoy winter break! Stay safe and healthy! See you in the new year!