Once some and eventually all of the kids were out of our parents house, we still had to come back to gather for Christmas Eve. It gets all of us together (although occasionally it’s on a dash-in, dash-out basis). Yes, we exchange gifts, but mostly it’s the rituals. There are certain things we MUST do.
As long as I can remember, Dad read us the Christmas story- and he still does. We are smart enough now to pre-bookmark the passage. You’d think it would be right at the beginning wouldn’t you?
I also think we were read the Visit of St. Nicholas from the start, but of course, as we got older we started reciting along (last night, eager to get home to the goats, I pushed the speed until the others complained).
At some point we started singing Rudolph the Red * **. You see, you aren’t allowed to say nose- instead, you point at your nose. You aren’t allowed to say Reindeer- instead you mime antlers. And you hold your hands around your tummy when you get to the line “Santa came to say”. I think there are a couple of other hand motions as well, but mostly it’s just laugh at the people who forget and say “nose” out loud.
And finally (actually the Bible reading is finally) somewhere along the line Mother started reading us King John was not a Good Man by A.A.Milne. She was really bothered by this poor shmuck who was neglected not only by people, but by Father Christmas himself. I always felt for the kid who’s ball he got at the end of the poem (figuring that if it had really been from FC, it would have come during the night.) Mom actually used to mist up- (one suspects issues there), but these days we are less respectful. The word “Loser” was injected several times when King John was whining about not getting candy, nuts, or a “pocket knife- that really cuts”.
Traditions are different for everyone’s families- that’s our Christmas Eve.