Usually, this time of year brings out the worst in me. I dislike the Christmas season, and my favorite time of year is when the whole damned thing is over. Of course, we still have to wait a week after the Big Holiday so that people can finish returning Rudolph sweaters and hitting the after-Christmas sales, but soon enough, the world will go back to normal and we can quit hearing seasonal favorites twisted into commercial jingles.
But tonight and tomorrow - Christmas Eve and the Big Day - those are awesome. You don't have to fight the crowds and wade through surly shoppers just to pick up a carton of milk. No more parking five miles from the store entrance and chartering a helicopter to buy a pair of jeans. The radio goes back to playing whatever simpering drivel is on most of the year, and they put away the entreaties from overzealous rock stars trying to convince us that they're actually still human by singing about starving children who don't have presents.
Instead, Christmas Eve can be spent with family. You can sit in a living room twinkling with colored lights, eat too much dessert, and put some brandy in the eggnog so you can survive your children. I love to watch It's A Wonderful Life, even though I've seen it like seven times, and then send the kids to bed so I can wrap whatever presents I haven't managed to get under the tree just yet.
This year we spent most of the day cleaning the house and refinishing the dining room set, because we're having a good friend over tomorrow and my drooling mutts are almost as messy as my drooling teenagers. Then we had a lovely dinner we obtained from Kentucky Fried Chicken and watched Love Actually (you can have my man card if you want, but that is a really enjoyable movie, even if it does feature Hugh Grant, and besides, it's very Christmas-y).
This isn't a very exciting event review. Usually I try to review really interesting things that I do, but unfortunately, it's been a while since I did something really interesting. Taking my wife to dinner and browsing the used bookstore are some of my favorite things to do, but they make for dull reading material. For that matter, painting the chairs and sweeping the living room aren't exactly adrenaline-fueled thrill rides.
But not every moment is made for Kodak, and while I may dread the Christmas season like a colonoscopy, I adore Christmas Eve. Christmas is great, too, but there's something about the night before the actual day that I find almost magic. Knowing that the next day will be happy and bright, that my kids will actually smile for several hours at a time, that the house will be clean and the food will be delicious and the company will be outstanding, it all just makes me feel lucky to be alive.
Of course, my kids are going to wake me up far too early (you would think they would grow out of that, but apparently, knowing what they're getting for Christmas is not enough to make them sleep until a reasonable hour. I may need to dose them with absinthe and Vicodin). There's about a 50-50 chance that I'll need three fingers of Irish whiskey before eleven in the morning, and the aftermath of the unwrapping is going to make my living room look like Chernobyl. But it's going to be a good day. I haven't had one go bad yet, and there's no reason to believe tomorrow will be any different.
I guess as my kids get older, I really end up putting a lot more value on happy moments with my family. Soon, they'll be moving out of my house (if I'm lucky), and these times of pure familial bliss will become ever more hard to find. In just a few years, we're not going to need fifty yards of wrapping paper or a ham the size of Wisconsin. The house will finally stay clean for twenty minutes, without dirty socks and homework piling up in the corners, but we also won't have those few seconds at a time when we actually enjoy our kids.
Christmas Eve isn't a very exciting event. It happens to all of us, regardless of whether or not we like it, and even if we're not religious. Hell, even if you don't observe the holiday, you still probably have the night off, and it's a little hard to avoid the music and animated television specials. It's not like you need me to tell you what Christmas Eve is like, because if you're old enough to read this, you're old enough to have lived through a few of your own. So maybe the point of this rambling and poorly executed article is to hope you can all enjoy this time and have as nice a night as I have.
Now I have to go wrap some presents and do a little last-minute tidying, then get to bed so my kids can wake me up early. Merry Christmas to everybody out there in Internet Land, and I hope your holiday is as fantastic as I believe mine will be.