It’s not Christmas Eve yet. Not for me.

I’m writing this a day early because even if I have time to write on Christmas Eve, I don’t want to have to write on Christmas Eve. This is my gift to my family: to not behind my laptop during our time together today.

And what a time it will be!

My daughter is taking me to the local movie theatre this afternoon so that I can see one of my favorite movies on the big screen: Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”. This is a really big deal to me. This is not my daughter’s favorite Christmas movie, so I only watch it when she’s not around. Except this year, I haven’t had a lot of time to myself unless it’s sleeping. So, obviously, I’ve yet to watch the movie.

So when I saw the marquee poster for this, I squealed in girlish delight and embarrassed her by loudly announcing, “This is what I want for Christmas from you!” To which she agreed. Her presence in the theatre, for a movie that means so much to me, with no joking or comments. Just her, me, popcorn, jalapenos, and Jimmy Stewart. Joy to the World!

Now, the movie is a before-and-after marker. Because ever since we agreed to go, everything we talk about has been qualified with “Before we see the movie…” and “After the movie is over…” Things like, call her Uncles who won’t make it to town. Bake cookies. Go to church. Eat dinner at In-n-Out. Watch “Scrooge” (the musical with Albert Finney). Pack for Christmas Eve. Mix up a chocolate martini. And enjoy food. Lots of food. And whatever else we can fit into the Before-and-After categories.

That’s what my Christmas Eve Day will be; at some point or another. That doesn’t include visiting friends the day before, or arriving at my mom’s that evening.

Even though we only live a mile apart, we’re keeping up with the tradition of sleeping over at my mom’s house. There’s only been one year in my entire life that I haven’t spent Christmas Eve night at my mom’s house. It was about ten years ago, in our apartment when Dot and I thought we’d wait for Santa at our place. Considering once he stopped at our abode, he also left instructions to find more loot at Grandma’s, it definitely wasn’t a restful night.

Ever since, it’s been back to Grandma’s for some Family Togetherness. The kind that makes our family glad these events only happen once a year. But the kind we look forward to nonetheless.

Once Dot goes to bed, my mom and I will stay up and talk about the beauty of her tree. We’ll listen to music, or watch Christmas shows on the TV. We’ll talk about the weather back east and wish we had a White Christmas. When we’re sure Dot’s asleep, we’ll put out her stocking. Then I’ll go to bed.

Somewhere around 3 a.m., Dot and I will wake up and sneak into the living room. We’ll spy where our stockings from Mom are, and see what other small goodies she’s hidden around the room. We’ll try hard not to giggle loudly, we’ll avoid touching anything that makes noise. Then we’ll make our way back to our beds and try hard to fall back asleep.

Enter Christmas morning: we somehow manage to all wake up around the same time. Mom will have the coffee ready, and orange danishes will be baking. Once we grab our morning snack, we’ll meet again in the living room and open our stockings. I’m excited because this year I was able to put together a stocking of goodies for my mom as well as my daughter. I’d tell you what she’s getting, but she reads this so I can’t. Yet.

Then we’ll open a few presents. After a short time, we’ll break for another danish and refill on the coffee. Then we’ll open the One Gift: you know the one. The One that’s saved for last. The Big Hurrah. The One that is bound to render the receiver speechless. That One.

It will be over too soon. It always is. But we’ll sit back, sip the cider, and enjoy the day. Before and After will take on a new meaning as Christmas comes to a close. But we’ll always have the memories we make.

I think that’s the best gift of all.

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote.

The Adventures of Will Power and the Search for Christmas
Happy Holidays!
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