Adios, 2006!

With just under 5 hours left until 2007, a turkey roast in the oven (from a frozen box — no need to be impressed by my awesome culinary skills), and Christmas decorations all boxed up and put away, I guess it’s about time I write my last Christmas-related post of the year.

Sometime back in high school, my friends, Jessie and Liz, and I started a traditional gathering called Christmas Eve-Eve. Where did the name come from? Simple. It takes place on December 23rd, which is the eve of Christmas Eve, and thus Christmas Eve-Eve.

With Christmas and Christmas Eve typically being so family-centered, Christmas Eve-Eve is the perfect day to get together with friends to celebrate the holidays. So, Jessie, Liz, and I decided to have a great girls’-night-style evening complete with gift exchange, sparkling cider (we were still in high school, remember), games, and a sleepover. And, since the first Christmas Eve-Eve took place at my parents’ house, my brother was invited to join the festivities as well.

And oh, what a festive time we had! Many traditions were begun on that first Christmas Eve-Eve.

We started the night with dinner, followed by a drive around town to see some of the best Christmas lights. Jessie took us to one house in her parents’ neighborhood that was insanely decorated. These people took their lights and lawn ornaments seriously, let me tell you. They even had a life-sized animatronic Santa that sat in the middle of the lawn and waved to passers-by. We were so amazed by this house that we parked the car and proceeded to walk all around the lawn (ummm…manners? tresspassing? what are those?), counting santas and reindeer and commenting on how hot the homeowners’ son was. We also spent a lot of time discussing whether the animatronic santa was acutally a real person or not. I, for one, was pretty impressed that they had gotten him to be so real-looking. “Look!” I enthusiastically informed Jessie and Liz, “They must have used dry ice or something because it looks like you can actually see his breath!”

(You see where this is going, don’t you? Are you wondering how I ever graduated high school after making genius comments like that one? Because I am.)

We traipsed around the lawn some more, then next thing I knew, Liz was slowly creeping up the candy-cane pathway that led to the life-sized santa — clearly trying to get a closer look and resolve the mystery once and for all. My curiosity got the better of me and so I started up the path a few steps behind her. Suddenly, she was right there in front of Santa, her face centimeters from his.

And that’s when he said, “Boo!”

Liz and I ran screaming out into the middle of the neighborhood street while Jessie, who hadn’t heard Santa speak, stared at us completely baffled.

Long story short, Santa was real. And boy were we ever embarrassed. But we had a great time talking to him and hearing him tell us about all the other crazy people like us that he and his wife laugh at night after night. Occasionally during our conversation, cars would approach and Santa would resume his robotic wave until they had passed.

And thus began the Christmas Eve-Eve tradition of baking cookies and delivering them to the Scary (but secretly really nice and funny) Santa.

It’s also a Christmas Eve-Eve tradition to play charades, preferably while drunk, which makes it that much more fun and entertaining. (What? Do you honestly think sparkling cider was the ONLY thing we drank once we were done driving for the night?)

Over the years, Christmas Eve-Eve has, of course, evolved. Liz moved away, as did my brother. (Although one year not too long ago when we hadn’t heard from Liz in awhile, I was getting ready to go to Jessie’s apartment for the festivities when I pulled up at a stoplight right next to Liz. We rolled down our windows and I asked her, “Are you coming to Christmas Eve-Eve?” And she said, “Sure! I just bought stuff to make martinis, so that’s perfect! I’ll follow you there!” It was a Christmas miracle.)

This year, for the first time, significant others were invited. So it was me and Tim, Jessie and her boyfriend Isaac (whom I met for the first time and was tons of fun and clearly very good for Jessie — don’t you just love seeing your friends in happy relationships?), and my good friend Kat, who happened to be back in town for the holidays, and who I haven’t seen since my wedding. We ordered delicious pizzas, drank loads of champagne, baked and delivered cookies to Santa (we got stuck in the snow on his street and had to get out and push the car; it was a Christmas miracle that we made it out of there!), played drunken charades, and had a truly wonderful time. It was so much fun to see Kat again, especially in a setting where we could actually sit and talk for hours. It’s so wonderful to have friends with whom, even after being in different cities or states for several years, you can just pick up where you left off and the conversation is just as easy and fun as it always was.

Having friends like Jessie and Kat, and a husband like Tim … now that is a true Christmas Miracle.

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