Christmas Eve day began as usual, except for the fact that my mom was probably putting the finishing touches on the matching dresses she had sewn for my sister and I to wear that night. My dad started farm chores early on Christmas Eve afternoon. Calf feeding and milking began about an hour earlier than usual so that we could get to the annual Sunday School Christmas Eve program on time. My sister, brother, and I each got to open one gift before church. It was often a new pair of socks or something else that we needed to complete our holiday attire. Mom rushed us kids off to church, while dad stayed home to finish the milking, only to slip into the back pew just in time for the program to begin.
My dad's family is close, and I mean close. Besides getting along very well, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all lived within five miles of our farm. Each of my uncles were dairy farmers too. We all went to the same church too, so all our Christmas Eve schedules were quite similar. After church, we all invaded Grandma and Grandpa's home. The 16 grandchildren couldn't wait to dig into the Christmas gifts, but we had to wait until after digging into the feast that the mom's had prepared. Due to our dairy farmer schedules, Christmas Eve dinner was after church. While the moms cleaned up the dishes, the kids separated the gifts into piles for each person. We each got a gift from the family member who was lucky enough to draw our name from the hat on Thanksgiving Day, when we were all together to celebrate "turkey day." Of course there was always a gift from Grandma and Grandpa too. Often times we each received a pad of rainbow colored paper, and we always patiently waited for Grandma to hand each of us an envelope with $2.00 tucked inside!
As midnight quickly approached, it was time for the mom's to return to church to sing in the church choir for the Midnight Carol Service. Grandpa was comfortable in his tan leather rocker, smoking his pipe, while the dad's each found a spot on the couches to take a little nap. The cousins, however, were exploring the newly received gifts and sharing their hopes for what Santa would deliver the next morning.
|That's me in the center, with the cool glasses.|