When you grow up in an Italian-American home Christmas Eve is a big deal. It is when you do the most celebrating. It has always been my very favorite day of the year. As a little girl I couldn't wait to see all of my family. I waited anxiously for my grandparents to arrive, my cousins would come and some of my parents friends too. It was the one day of the year that we all got together. There was always wonderful food, so much love and laughing. It really was a special day. As I got older and my family started dwindling I took over the tradition and started hosting Christmas Eve at our house. We didn't have a lot of family to invite so we substituted our good friends. I would get up early in the morning and start cooking. I would make homemade meatballs and sauce and then lasagna. I never let anybody bring anything over, it was important to me that I cook everything, desserts included. It was how I showed my love. It is the Italian mom that is ingrained in me and I loved every minute of it. Sometimes I would get stressed and be cranky but I can tell you that even at the crankiest moments this was the most important day of the year to me. It was so important to me that my kids learn tradition. That even though we didn't have much family we could still have people around us that we loved and we could still keep the Sabella family tradition going.
The last couple of years we started a new tradition when we had moved into our new neighborhood. We started carolling. I think Allison came up with the idea, I am not sure. But it was fun and added a new element to our evening. We couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and there weren't always a lot of people to sing to but it was fun and we laughed so hard that it didn't matter.
This year things are different. This year we live in Virginia. Almost all of our friends and family live in California. This is the first Christmas without my mom. The first year that I will be 3,000 miles away from my brother and his family. It's difficult. It's different.
One of my best friends from high school lives here in VA. She and her family live about an hour away from us. We spent Thanksgiving with them at their house and I am so happy to say that today she texted me and said that they are coming to our house for Christmas Eve. I was so happy to get that text. Until that moment I really thought that this weekend was going to be a bust. I didn't know how we were going to get through it. For my kids entire lives all they have ever known is a big party on Christmas Eve. They have looked forward to it the same way I did when I was young. The idea of just the four of us sitting around was depressing. I was so not looking forward to it. Now we get to have friends over! I am so happy about it. It's going to be different, I am not making my usual fare. I am going super casual and just making lots of finger foods and maybe a casserole or two, totally going buffet style. I am so looking forward to the noise of having people in this house, to the idea of bringing two families together for an evening to share in what will hopefully become our new tradition. Who knows maybe by next year we will have some more friends and we will be able to invite even more people.
I will forever treasure the memories that we made in the desert with our friends and all of those Christmas Eve's together. I can guarantee that this year there will be some tears shed for all that we have left behind. As a matter of fact even just typing this I can't stop crying. But this is our new life. This is our second chance and our opportunity for a new beginning. I need to open my mind and my heart to these new experiences and traditions and that is exactly what I am going to do.