By Jaci Schneider, Copy Editor
Much Ado About Something
My mom rushes out of the candlelight service at church as soon as the congregation finishes the last hymn every Christmas Eve.
She hurries home to light the candles in the Bunsen burner underneath the Swedish meatballs, mix the cran-rasberry juice with the 7-Up to make punch, spread the shrimp cocktail sauce on the cream cheese, and plug in the Christmas tree lights.
My favorite part of the Christmas holiday, the part I’ll miss the most this year, is my family’s Christmas Eve open house.
The same group from church floods the house every year, and every year, we eat cheesecake, fudge, seven-layer bean dip and meatballs among other odd assortments of food. We always eat meatballs, smothered in a sweet, but slightly spicy sauce-some years a little too spicy.
My pastor always asks us to save some shrimp and meatballs for him; he talks so much, he can’t get out of the church fast enough for first dibs on food.
Kids run in circles throughout the house, their hands sticky with frosting and candy cane residue. Teenagers try to prevent little boys from interfering with their pool game; and the women chat in the crowded and warm living room, watching the babies play on the carpet near the Christmas tree.
At some point , the mothers will insist the girls pose for a picture in their festive Christmas dresses. We own pictures of ourselves as little kids, with red icing smeared on our teeth and napkins draped over our laps, protecting our velveteen dresses. Now, the pictures look more sophisticated, or so we like to think. One day, however, we’ll see them with the same amusement with which we see our childish photos.
When we were younger, we would try to entertain the adults by giving them a concert of Christmas carols, but now we join the conversation, entertain the little kids, and play games like Catch Phrase.
The same two families always leave last. We all sit and gaze at the bright tree, relaxing after the long day of preparation. Finally, the house seems to cool down, and the smell of meatballs mingled with chocolate begins to fade.
Eventually, we hug our guests good-bye before they venture into the cold, foggy night, then we turn to clean up the kitchen as quickly as possible, so my sister and I can open our allotted one Christmas Eve gift-pajamas.
This year, I’ll do Christmas in another country, but I know that at home, the tradition lives. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll still find someone who knows how to cook great meatballs. And maybe, luck will bring me – a present to open-a new pair of pajamas.