It is finally Christmas Eve! The night we have all waited for so impatiently. I’ll be lucky to get my son to sleep! Here’s our typical Christmas Eve routine. We get all dressed up in our fancy Christmas outfits. Then we go pick up my mom for Mass. Hopefully we are on time (usually we are not). If we aren’t, we have to squeeze into a packed pew or split up rows but I don’t mind. I love seeing the church full! Our church has Mass every Saturday night in our town. Most people like going on Sunday so it’s not too full each week. However, on Christmas Eve, you are lucky to find a place to sit! We love going to Mass but something about the Christmas spirit and the great company make Christmas Eve Mass so great! My kids aren’t quite at the age that they can sit still long though, so all three of us are usually wrestling the little ones. Anyway, we get through Mass and then drive around to look at Christmas lights. This is one of my greatest memories growing up. We always drove around and looked at lights as a family. My parents are divorced but there were a few years that we all went to Mass together (we have a picture of my dad to prove it! ha!) and looked at the lights. Now that I am an adult I can look back and remember these little details. It’s not the presents that I remember, it’s the time well spent with family. Sure I remember getting a bike one year but overall, I forget what I got when. I know my kids will too but I want them to have these memories. After the lights, we go home and get ready for bed. Last year I started a little tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve (my parents always let me open just one!). My son gets to open it for now but its usually a big box packed with PJs for everyone, a blanket, new movie or book, slippers, etc. That way we all get new Christmas PJs and get to spend some time together before bed. We tuck the kids in and then Santa goes to work. If I can, I lay awake early in the morning waiting for the kids to get up (or I wake them up!). Then you get the idea, presents, cookies for breakfast, whatever! I just love it all but my favorite part is Mass. It didn’t use to be but I really appreciate it now. There are many churches around but a shrinking number of priests to reverend them. Our priest currently covers four parishes each week. He’s a busy man! Last weekend at Mass, we had a seminarian come visit (a person studying for priesthood). I was surprised to see it was a guy my age that I went to college with for a couple years. I was completely surprised to see what he was doing with his life. He explained his studies and a “day in the life” kind of thing. Each year, they take up a collection at our church for retired priests and soon-to-be priests. That is what our 11th day of giving will be. We giving our tidings at Mass each week but tonight is special and we want to give what we can for the past and future leaders of our church. My son even pitched in some leftover change he had from the library donation (I think he really just likes putting money in the collection baskets!). I know the priests work hard and it’s a lot of sacrifice but they do it with a smile on their face. It’s not just Catholics that make sacrifices but every religion and we should all be thankful for that – whatever our beliefs are! So tonight, we are going to bed with full hearts, tremendous blessings and anticipation. I hope your Christmas Eve is as magical and blessed as ours!