I’ll let you in on a small secret.

I don’t really like Christmas day as much as I like Christmas Eve. Before you all start throwing tinsel balls at me consider C.S. Lewis’ definition of joy as the anticipation of coming completion. Okay, so that was my own paraphrase, obviously. I’m sure Dr. C is garrumphing insultedly somewhere down in his beach house. Christmas Day is always somewhat of a let down considering we rarely spend time with extended family. But anyway…

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is working on Christmas Eve. Now I’m convinced you all think I’m insane. Working on Christmas Eve definitely gets me in the spirit of Christmas…the one night I don’t mind being the last one to leave the mall. It’s funny to me…every year the hour before the mall closes is filled with men. Desperate men. Desperate men desperately looking for their wife’s present. And my father is there to greet them with his sympathy, his empathy, and his photos.After the mall closes, I enjoy walking all the way out to the edge of the parking lot to my little big buick and sitting alone for a few moments until I’m ready to go. Usually, there’s snow softly falling to cover the carnage only a mall parking lot after a busy day can become. The flakes soften the piles of spilled carmelcorn, they melt away credit card evidence on lost receipts, they mingle with spilled soda forming an off-kilter rainbow of liquid on the frozen ground. And my car crunches sweetly through the scene on my way out of the lot.It’s lovely to drive home and not encounter harassed holiday drivers screaming at you like harpies for the smallest infraction. By six thirty, the Christmas Eve witching hour, the roads are nearly bare since most people have already arrived at various family members’ houses or are on freeways making good headway. The anticipation of hot tea or cider or cocoa and a quietly expectant house is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Of course, Kiki is usually pestering my mother to open presents on Christmas Eve; and this year my grandmother made her matronly magisterial visit out to our neck of the woods to do her usual complaining of colds, molds, and the lack of business at the dollar store. But all in all, it was relaxing. No ham, but ravioli. No Christmas movies, but Aqua Team Hunger Squad thanks to my brother. But still, I was satisfied to enjoy the best of the season. And the anticipation.

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