Christmas Eve 2013…early in the morning. I’m reflecting on Christmas Eve’s in my past with an early memory of being in Puerto Rico. My dad was in the Coast Guard and I remember coming out of the Christmas Eve service at the base Chapel wondering how Santa Claus is going to land in such a place…coconut trees and all. I recall the Christmas Eve where I was preparing to deploy to the Middle East for Desert Storm…leaving my pregnant wife behind as I go off to war. Flashing through my mind was my first Christmas Eve as a father wondering if I was really up for the job, and a later Christmas Eve using a hammer to put my second son’s big wheel together.
Earlier this year, I had a near death medical event; this Christmas Eve I see things differently. This afternoon my baby boy drives home and my other baby boy is home from school. A woman that has loved me for over 30 years has made our home warm and inviting along with special treats the men in her life look for her to make this time of year.
Late this afternoon we’ll go to our church for an early Christmas Eve service and we will be the family all dressed up but giggling; my youngest will try to mess up my hair and the oldest trying to give me “a wet Willie.” My retaliation will come when we start singing; no need to punish when you can embarrass…of course my wife will be praying, pinching our legs and giving us “the look” to behave.
Afterwards, our annual tradition “Lady & Gentleman” dinner. The Gentlemen wear suits and the Lady puts on her finery. We go to a fine dining restaurant and have a dinner that exemplifies manners and grace…but we can’t stand it. Lively discussion, laughing and memories of our life together as a family will be the theme of discussion. We do use our manners; linen napkins in our laps, we don’t talk with food in mouth, and the boys address their mother as “ma’am” and I “sir,” Southern Gentility is required of my sons.
We’ll get home bloated with food and a cigar will be in order accompanied by my favorite libation…we’ll laugh some more, mostly my baby boys (both larger than I now) jabbering at me about how they are ready to “take me on”…but never really try.
So for me, I don’t want a silent night…I want what makes me happy; laughter, banter and love…