My grandparents' traditions on Christmas Eve was for the men to get stinking drunk....perhaps a long Irish or Swedish tradition??? Actually, I wasn't really witness to the grand old days, but have heard plenty about them! I guess by the time I came along, things had tamed down a bit. I do remember that every Christmas Eve my dad would have to go to get presents from my grandparents, because my grandparents would be with at one of my grandmother's siblings having their usual Christmas Eve bash.
To give my parents credit, they did not get involved in that family tradition! They joined with their best friends for Christmas Eve and we would have a pot-luck dinner. The adults had drawn names and they had to make their gift for Christmas Eve. As we each turned 18 years old, we were allowed into the drawing. This tradition began probably about 1955. It continues to this day, with some changes. The family that we did it with dropped out early in the 1970's, but our family had expanded enough that we kept it up with my parents, and brought in in-laws as we married. At it's peak, we had 15-16 people in the drawing.
In 2006, my sister and her family dropped out, and my brother, Mike, had died the year before, so it just became my family and my parents. We have 3 adult children with spouses, so last year there were still 10 of us in the drawing. This year my parents are not in the drawing and we did not draw names among us. It felt sad to let the tradition go after over 50 years of doing it. This past weekend, my daughters decided that we couldn't let it go, so with only 12 days until Christmas, the 8 of us drew names. Rules are the same, we have to make the gift!
It is always such great fun to see what people have come up with for gifts. We have had some really great gifts over the years, and some not so great. There are certain people that are easy to make gifts for, and there are certain people that you hope get your name because they make such great gifts!
The other tradition that I have all to myself that I have never even shared with anyone began years ago, after my grandfather died. Some time during the evening of Christmas Eve, I slip quietly away for just a few moments and silently toast the loved ones who are no longer with us. It is comforting to spend a few moments alone with them on Christmas Eve. They will never be forgotten.