Remembering Christmas Eve

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture

When my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch, Christmas Eve Day was a long day as we thought about the day to come. The tree, that our dad, Kenneth Osborn, had cut himself, was decorated, and we had spent a lot of time checking out the packages under the tree. One year our sister Charlotte (Allum) poked little holes in some of the packages and then positioned them just right under the tree so nobody was the wiser. All of us picked up the packages—plenty—before Christmas.

Anyway, it was a long day. We kids helped tidy up around the house. Mom had been cooking for days, baking little cakes and pies and making fudge, divinity, and chocolate-covered cherries. The dining room table was covered with delicious treats. Besides cooking for Christmas Day, Mom also made gifts for family and people in the neighborhood. Everything had to be wrapped so that Dad could deliver the gifts later that afternoon.

Later that night we enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve supper which consisted of oyster stew and other side dishes. When the table was cleared, we opened the Christmas cards, also a tradition. For some time the cards had been arriving in the mail—and there was a pile of them. Only Mom was allowed to peek at them and only if she needed to know something about a family when she was making out our Christmas cards. On Christmas Eve we put the pile of cards in front of her, and she opened them, one by one, read the letters aloud, and we passed the cards around the table.

Then it was time to hang up our stockings. We didn’t have any fancy socks—just those we found around the house, the bigger the better. In later years, when we kids were shopping ages, we played the role of Santa and filled Mom and Dad’s socks. I can remember that Dad enjoyed teasing us by finding the biggest sock possible. One year he chose one of Mom’s nylon stockings. (He would have really enjoyed hanging up a pair of panty hose, but they weren’t invented back then.)

Christmas Eve night was long and not filled with a lot of sleep. We kids went upstairs to bed, and Dad and Mom waited up, hoping that we would go to sleep so they could carry out their Santa duties. They had to put a variety of candies in dishes on the dining room table, fill stockings, and put gifts under the tree. I think they may have waited until morning to put gifts under the tree because there was a chance that one of us might have gotten up to go outdoors to the outhouse.

We probably went to sleep in the early morning hours, and we woke in the dark to Dad calling us. We opened gifts early so that feeding the animals could be finished about the usual time. Finally, it was time to open our gifts.

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