Christmas Eve is the Gift

Everything we do this season is leading up to Christmas Day – the tree, the gifts, the special foods – yet Christmas Day is when I feel the most let down.

Can you relate?

Sure, it's fun to watch the kids open their gifts, but they never seem to love them as much as I thought they would.  (Or maybe I just expect too many effusive thank yous!)  The meal is a lot of work that's over too soon, and then everyone settles in for a game of croquet (which is chilly), a board game (which the kids are either too young or too old to really enjoy), televised sports (a favorite because they don't require any action from the viewers), or maybe a nap.

And it's over.  The holiday fizz and anticipation is over.  The next day, stores will reopen and it will be back – literally – to business as usual.  The second-biggest shopping day in the U.S. is December 26th (in Canada it's #1).


Some enchanted evening

On December 24th, the magic is still alive.  As you bake or set the table for the next day, it's all still creative and fun.  The wrapped presents and welcoming living room look beautiful, not like a tornado has touched down.  The candles and firelight are cozy, not burnt down or a sooty mess that needs to be shoveled out.  The trip to church, even if cold or wet, is full of barely-suppressed anticipation.  The lights, the music, the prayers and Bible readings are familiar yet fresh.  You aren't tired of hearing them.  They're exactly what you want to hear on this special night.

By Christmas afternoon (or maybe even earlier), the mundane has returned.

Life presents a lot of routine.

The same chores.  The same needs being met over and over.  Work, school, meal times, bed times and awakenings, all in a predictable round.

We are particularly averse, in this day and age, to sameness.  Too much screen time has trained us for pop-ups, attention-seeking ads, cutting-edge products, celebrity antics, breaking news, the latest shows or televised events.  Along with fast food, fast fashion, fast furniture, constant makeovers, rings, dings, and ever-growing bucket lists, we crave stimulation.  We're addicted to the dopamine and feel depressed without a constant top-up.

But the natural world moves slowly.  Real conversations take time.  Deep thinking takes time and energy.  And we don't have it.

Or we think we don't.

The gift of stillness

Christmas Eve is the gift.  It's the still point in an extra-busy season, full of possibility.  It's rich with promise.  We need to savor it.

And we need to make room for other still points:

  • a moment in early morning with the sky, the birds, the dewy air, and a hot cup of coffee or tea to linger over
  • a moment to notice a loved one's face and the sound of their voice
  • a moment to ponder something read or heard or remembered, and maybe to write about those thoughts
  • a moment to focus on what your hands are doing, and to appreciate their skill and dexterity
  • a moment of peace and quiet
  • a moment of laughter
  • a moment to be thankful

This season, decide to stay in the Christmas Eve mindset as much as possible.  Set aside the desire to be stimulated and titillated, and bask in the comfort of the familiar.  Don't rush to the next thing, but savor the current thing.

That's the gift of the season.

Related article:  A Silent Night


  1. Just beautiful! Thank you so much for your gifts to us all year long. And I truly needed this gift today <3

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and advices all year around; I love the gift of stillness, being mindful and present in the moment. Wish you a Merry Christmas!

  3. I actually really enjoy the days after Xmas. Sleeping in, reading, maybe some visiting, eating leftovers, making Turkey soup, indulging in treats, perhaps a walk or two, watching a movie, reflecting on the past year & thinking ahead to the new one.


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