Our Christmas Eves are always exactly the same, but some things are constant. And for being missionaries, you may think it’s sadly secular.
One of those is playing bingo. A tradition steeped in the beauty of Advent and the Christ Child. We got it from Troy’s family, so you can blame them. We buy prizes at the euro store (where things are often .60 of .75 cents so I’m not sure why they call it the euro store!) and wrap them up. Then we play bingo until everyone wins at least once. In past years we have played until everyone wins twice, but frankly, that can take forever. This year we’re streamlining, baby.
After bingo we eat a bunch of junk, and watch Polar Express. It’s a fairly new element to the Christmas Eve line-up, but I love it, and so do the kids. Even though it’s about going to the North Pole to see Santa, I think it’s about a lot more than that. It’s magical, and it has musical numbers. Really, what could be better?
Our kids still believe in Santa (although Meg will stop I think, when there is nobody left in her class that admits to it.) We still leave Santa a snack, and a carrot for Rudolph, and this year Amy and Victoria, who are sleeping in the living room tonight have promised the kids they will try and get a picture of him.
Christmas Eve is all about expectation, and joy.
I have fond memories of Christmas Eve as a child. Some time ago, I wrote a play that draws from some of those experiences. Here’s a snippet:
LARRY: My favorite Christmas Eve ever was when grandma wet her pants. I was 9. This year we went through all the usual routine, but we added one more game. The Fox and the Chickens.
KATHLEEN: The Fox and the Chickens?
LARRY: Yeah. You make a trail in the snow and you play tag on the tracks that are made. One person is the Fox. That’s the person you run away from. If the Fox touches you, then you become the fox and have to catch one of the chickens.
KATHLEEN: Sounds fun.
LARRY: Yeah it was. Actually, the kids always played this game every year, but this particular year we convinced grandma to play it with us. She was reluctant at first, but we coaxed her into it. She did pretty good, until she became the Fox. She was trying to catch me, but I wouldn’t let her. I would let her get close to me, and then right before she’d touch me, I’d run away. She started laughing and she couldn’t stop. She laughed so hard that she lost control of her bladder and--let loose. I’ll never forget her face… She was bright red, her mouth wide open, her eyes closed, her hands clutching her gut because the laughing hurt so much. That was my favorite Christmas Eve.