Thursday will be my 25th Christmas. I’ve spent each of them with the same four people.
Sometimes relatives come over. On occasion a current girlfriend shows up, but every year, without fail, my two brothers, my mom, and my dad gather for Christmas.
I’m guessing this is fairly rare.
Although the company has remained the same, there are a few things that have changed. My first memories of Christmas morning involve me waking up, taking a second to realize it’s Christmas, throwing on my red robe (which I only wore once a year), and sprinting down the stairs before the sun was up. A new bike, Lego’s or a remote control car would be waiting in the living room fully assembled. Eventually my parents would hear that we were awake and stumble down to see what Santa had brought us.
At 24, I’m the youngest in the family. Still, Santa has never failed me or my 29 and 31-year-old brothers.
The difference is that now, if you wake up before 10 a.m., the gifts might not have come yet.
We give out our family presents on Christmas Eve. And although my adolescent anticipation has drastically dissipated, it is still one of my favorite nights of the year.
Before getting to the gifts, we eat clam chowder and go to the candle light service at church. I have distinct memories of this being the slowest three hours of my life – the anticipation to open gifts almost unbearable.
We usually got home around 9 and gathered in the living room. After turning 21 I made the discovery that egg nog is quite possibly the best mixer known to man. It tastes the same with a 1:1 egg nog to rum ratio as a 1:5.
With drinks in hand and cookies overflowing our plates, everyone tries to stall opening their presents so they won’t be left with none at the end. My mom still gets genuinely excited about a new pair of Thorlo socks, and my dad gets distracted and we have to go find him upstairs or in the kitchen so we can continue.
Things are slowly changing, though. For example, oysters have been introduced as a Christmas tradition simply because they are one of dad's favorite foods.
And maybe one day a woman will force us into marriage and ruin the fun for everybody.
Until then I’ll just keep counting on Santa on Christmas morning.