Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. I much prefer it over Christmas Day. The sacredness of Christmas gets lost in scraps of wrapping paper and tangles of ribbons. The excitement of the morning and family time is glorious, but sometimes I get discouraged by the materialism of it all.
Christmas Eve is different. It seems like when the sun sets and darkness swallows the busy day of finishing touches, peace comes upon the earth. It’s like everyone can take a communal deep breath. Preparation is done and we can finally focus on that sweet baby in the manger.
I have many memories of Christmas Eve traditions from growing up.
- Holding a lit candle with wax dripping down my arm while singing Silent Night.
- Driving around admiring Christmas light displays.
- Cheese and crackers with the family.
When I got married, I looked forward to the traditions I would begin with my husband. There is one that I wasn’t expecting, but it is the one I am most looking forward to.
Every year, after the Christmas Eve services come to a close, my church opens the sanctuary for communion. They bless the sacraments, then leave them on the altar for people to come and take in their time. There is a note on the door to be silent, and the building is completely quiet. No music playing. Lights are low, with one small light aimed on the porcelain manger set and the Christmas tree softly lit in the corner.
My husband and I walk in, find a quiet spot (usually by the Christmas tree, given my love of them), and sit for as long as we feel the need to. Sometimes I gaze at the lights on the tree, sometimes at the manger. Often I pick up a pew Bible and read through the Christmas story (It’s sad that I usually find myself so consumed during the Christmas season that I don’t take time to meditate on these Scriptures.) Sometimes we hold hands and just quietly sit.
It’s wonderful. With the exception of the year that some people decided to come in and whisper LOUDLY to each other for five minutes, every year has been blissful. (My husband tried to give them a friendly note to let them know that we could hear them, and to gently tell them they were disturbing our moment of quiet. They became very offended and gave him a very rude note back and left in a huff. So annoying. And discouraging. We tried to be nice.)
It’s the Christmas Eve tradition that I never expected to create. I never realized how much I long for silence and stillness in my life until recently. When my husband and I began talking about upcoming Christmas plans, that was the one definite thing we both mentioned. We could take or leave most anything else, but that silent Christmas Eve communion seems to be a given now.
Is there a Christmas Eve tradition you are looking forward to?