This year, Christmas Eve was made of a varied set of emotions...
Family would gather at our home, so I took the day to help in the kitchen.
All went well until electricity decided to fail at lunchtime and not return during the whole afternoon.
My parents became very stressed out as they believed that the 'proper functioning' of Christmas Eve depended on electricity. The complex fireplace system in the living room, where I set the table in the early afternoon, needed electricity. Drinks needed ice, created with the help of electricity. The preparation of the one thousand and one different dishes needed a good source of lighting, so we could see what we were doing. And we needed to take a bath in water heated with... Electricity!
Stress and chaos grew exponentially, until my brother exclaimed: "Let's just take the food to Aunt Z., who has electricity, and have Christmas there!" He immediately called her, and she willingly replied: “No problem!” But my mother faltered… "Oh, I really don’t like that idea…" And I supported her: "Well, you know, mother put a lot of effort on Christmas decoration and she even bought new holiday linens, and she's really eager to host Christmas this year…" My father grabbed the phone and told my aunt that everyone would come to our house and we would have a nice romantic candlelit dinner.
Everything was prepared on time and, as if by magic, ten minutes before guests arrived... There was light!
Aunt Z. arrived and put all the gifts she had brought from her home around our Christmas tree. And the tree, which was once almost naked, was suddenly swamped by a mountain of gifts.
Dinner was held in the dining room, as originally planned, near the toasty fireplace, and at two tables covered with fine Christmassy linen. The smallest table is traditionally called 'The Children Table', even though there are no longer children in the family. I, my sister and my two cousins sat at this table. And dinner was made of yummy food, happy conversations and much laughter. What a delight!
Around midnight Aunt Z. began distributing gifts, perfectly embodying the role of Mrs. Claus. "This one is for you, and this one is for you, and this and this and that!" And the presents seemed to multiply as they were being distributed.
My sister was thrilled and said, jokingly: "I think I’ve never received so many gifts in my entire life!" In our childhood we never got many gifts, but she was clearly exaggerating, carried away by the exuberant enthusiasm of Aunt Z.
Finally, not long after, everyone said goodbye, and we stayed in the kitchen for a little while, cleaning up and commenting on the joy of the evening.
After my parents and sister were gone to sleep, I lingered on the sofa, drinking hot tea and leafing through one of my gifts: the book ‘Miopia e Astigmatismo’, by Nuno Markl. Before bed I still gave the finishing touches on my gift to B., which this year was handmade by me.
And so it was a happy Christmas Eve... :)
(Note: This 'tale' was originally posted on my other blog, in Portuguese.)