When I was a kid, every Christmas Eve we had epic Christmas parties with families and friends. Those nights are some of the highlights of my childhood. The adults would stay inside, eating and drinking hot cider, and the kids would be running around like wild heathens outside, playing hide and seek and chase. Often, we’d have visits from Santa during the parties, too.
In fact, one of my first realizations that I did not want to be a newspaper reporter my entire life was working my first Christmas Eve after college graduation and knowing I was missing my family’s party. I was so irritated, because I absolutely loved those parties.
Since then, with my own kids, I thought about starting our own Christmas Eve parties to keep up the tradition – but it didn’t work for our family. Our church hosts a beautiful, memorable Christmas Eve service every year – and I did not want to miss that or ask others to miss out, either.
So, instead, we host Milk & Cookies parties for the kids one morning before Christmas. It’s wild and chaotic and filled with sprinkles and sugar. And while I call it a Milk & Cookies party, it’s really more of a Milk-and-cookies-and-pjs-and-watch-The-Grinch party. Because that’s what we do. The kids (and I) wear Christmas pajamas and eat way too many cookies (most of the time guests are sent home with a bag of cookies as well) and we have the old Grinch cartoon playing in the background. I say in the background because, in our four years of hosting this party, I’m not sure if the kids have ever finished the movie. Did I mention the cookies? Yeah. Usually they’re all sugared up, running around and playing in the kids’ rooms. And it is wonderful. It’s beautiful and lovely because the parents and I are watching our kids with these new traditions, growing up together.
This year, for the first time, The Artist asked if we would have the Grinch party this year. She’s remembering it now, and those memories are good. They are grand. She knows her friends will come over and play and I won’t tell her one time to stop eating all the cookies she wants (She and The Engineer managed to eat quite a lot last year by sneaking cookies off of peoples’ plates).
When I was first married, I thought we needed to have certain traditions that first year – but all the traditions I tried to form never worked. We tried to go to Natchitoches every New Year’s Eve. Nope. Worked for three years and that was it. We tried to go certain places for Christmas. That didn’t work.
The best holiday traditions we have now are the ones that just started naturally. I hosted the first Milk & Cookies party when The Artist was almost two, and our group of friends had maybe 5 kids among 5 families. Now – now, we have about 20 kids who come in about 8 or 9 families.
We somehow started a Christmas tradition without even realizing it. And that one is one I’ll treasure forever.
That and lying in bed on Christmas Eve and laughing as Kyle irritably puts together way too complicated Christmas toys while watching “Christmas Vacation.”
Hey, I never said I was a saint.