We have always, since my sisters and I have been adults, celebrated with our family on Christmas Eve. As soon as everyone can get off of work, usually in the afteroon. That continues…but there are changes.

Some changes are just a result of aging – there are no little kids in the family, so we have a gift exchange – we have an exchange rather than giving gifts to all. And the menu: It is a sandwich smorgasbord.

Some changes have developed since my daughter is away.

The sign. Since my daughter is away, we started taking a photo with a sign. The sign was my mom’s idea. It says “We love you, (daughter’s name)” and we hold it up in front of us. Somehow, knowing she is missed by us all is helpful to her. We tell her, of course. But this small, extra effort is extremely meaningful to her. I print and take the photo to her.

The phone call. I start at the beginning of December, reminding her what day and time we will all be together. I keep my cell phone nearby…something I wouldn’t normally do at a celebration and we pass the phone around when she calls. Lots of     “I love yous” and then my daughter talks to her favorite person – her brother.

The quiet. At the end of the day, I go home to a quiet house. I put on my nightie and I read the paper. I think, “Maybe I’ll head out to Christmas Eve service,” but I always choose to stay in.

Christmas Day. A late breakfast at my folks’ with any available family or friends, followed by more home and quiet. Sometimes, my daughter will call me on Christmas Day. Other times, she is busy…busy with the Christmas busyness of her home-away-from-home.

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