When I was a kid, every Christmas Eve we traveled the ~20 miles into Boston/Cambridge and had dinner at the home of my aunt and uncle. They were my father's oldest brother and his wife, both doctors with no children. For many years, they lived in Cambridge in a house near Harvard Square, with my aunt's sister and father also residing there. The house wasn't kid friendly, the food was extremely esoteric, including goose stuffed with oysters and chestnuts and a capon, and I had very mixed feelings about the event. Parts of it I enjoyed, such as the other friends and family members from around the world who joined the festivities, that I'd never have met otherwise. Other parts I dreaded, such as the part of the evening where we had to sit through my aunt and uncle opening every gift they received for Christmas (their tradition was to open presents Christmas Eve rather than Christmas morning).
When I hit my early 20s, I purposely started entertaining with friends on Christmas Eve to continue the tradition of a celebration that night, but one that would be more to my liking. During our years of apartment living in Boston and surrounding cities, Skip and I entertained a lot and liked having our home be a gathering place for friends.
When we moved into what had once been my parents' house in the suburbs of Boston, we continued with our Christmas Eve dinners. Over the last handful of years, with the increasing caregiving load making entertaining here more difficult, we began having the party at the home of friends, but I still prepared a lot of the dishes, including the centerpiece ... a butterflied leg of lamb, marinated in a Julia Child recipe my mother turned me on to 30 years ago, then grilled.
Christmas Eve is a party night in my world. But not tonight. I saw Skip earlier today, but had to come home in the early evening to free the pups from their crate. Tonight, my Skip is alone resting in her rehab hospital room and I'm chillin' on the couch with the pups by my side. This is our 29th Christmas Eve together and the first we've spent apart. As Skip would say, "it's just not right!" (I wish you could hear her say it in her wonderful Boston accent.)
Merry Christmas, Skip! And, Merry Christmas to you!