I love Christmas Day.

But Christmas Eve is even better in my opinion.

It’s chock-full of LOVE.

LOVE for the Savior with the Nativity helping us remember the true meaning of Christmas, and LOVE for each other because that’s when our kids give each other their gifts.

Favorite part of Christmas.

So this year (as I mentioned before) was our first Christmas in our new home.  And kind of a special one since we have been gone the last two years (Mexico and Utah) and Max will be gone for the next two.

Christmas Eve in the desert usually includes Dave’s whole extended family and I love it, but this year a few families were out of town so we all opted to do our party earlier (back here) and do Christmas Eve with our own families.

It worked out so beautifully.

These two helped come up with the plan for the “Jerusalem Supper” which has never made it into our Christmas Eve repertoire since we have so little time after our extended family gathering.

(A “Jerusalem Supper” is something we did growing up where we got into character as Mary’s family before she left on her journey for Bethlehem and then heading straight into the Nativity.  More about that back HERE.)

These girls set the table up all special:

Lucy is very particular about certain things, and one of them was setting the table specifically with Christmas colors.  She made sure there was white and green and also of course red “for Jesus Christ’s blood” (she doesn’t usually just say “Jesus,” it’s usually the full “Jesus Christ” and I love it).

Luckily she was ok with blue sliding by as a Christmas color, because there’s a lot of blue on my special plates I bought in Jerusalem all those years ago when I spent a semester there on study abroad.

I LOVED pulling out those plates and cups that mean so much to me and watching my girls fall in love with them as I explained where I got them and how special they are to me.  They treated them so delicately and reverently as they set the table (I only have four so we had to improvise a little).

Claire’s grand idea was to put a figure from our nativity set on each plate and have each person tell a little bit about that piece during dinner.

It was a perfect little added touch to our night.

Instead of having all the traditional “Jerusalem Supper” food, we opted to have our family favorite meal: Chicken Tikka Masala.  I know, not super authentic for Jerusalem OR Christmas Eve, but man we love that dish.  (recipe HERE)

Loved what each person said about their character from the Nativity, and the discussion it led us to to kind of dissect the whole story a little better.

Especially loved what Max said about the wise men.

Then it was off to Bethlehem with Mary riding on her donkey…which I only got a very motion-artsy picture of:)

Lucy and Claire switched “roles” for the Nativity to make it “fair” since both, of course, wanted to be Mary.  Lu was an excellent angel and practiced “flying through the air” (riding a hooverboard/segway thing) quite diligently in preparation for the whole deal:

Then it was time for the gift exchange.

We always do the kids’ exchange on Christmas Eve to help keep the delight in “giving” since Christmas morning is so much about “getting.”

Every year they get SO excited about this night, but I’m pretty sure the excitement-level set a new record this year.  Maybe the older they get the more exciting it is, or the more they “get” it, but oh boy I loved watching their excitement.

We rotate who gives to who each year.  This year it was “one down” which meant Lucy gave to Max.

She was ready for the hug before he even opened the gift.  

She gave him a football which he loved and promptly helped her learn to catch it.

Claire could hardly contain her excitement and had been waiting with baited breath for Lucy to open her gift.

At first Lucy, sometimes not the most tactful gal on the planet, wasn’t too sure if she thought the gift was quite as wonderful…

…until she really comprehended how incredibly awesome it was.  Then she got to business putting it to work writing about who was the “best sister in the whole wide world.”

Grace gave to Claire and was also so ultra excited to have her open that thing.

Claire’s reaction was pretty classic.  You can hardly even see her below because she’s hugging Grace so darn tight.

There we go…

Max was clearly very touched by the whole interaction.


Next Elle gave to Grace.

Some articles of clothing that Grace was clearly very happy about.

And last but not least, Max gave to Elle.

…a light up letter “E” for her bedroom which she loved.

The spirit of giving filled that family room of ours right up nice while Lucy proclaimed us to be “the best family she has ever had.”  Quite a compliment if you ask me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then it was on to traditional Christmas-Eve-PJ-time:

…and traditional “T’was the Night Before Christmas” time:
Then off to bed for sugarplums-dancing-in-their-heads along with so much sheer excitement and happiness.  
Oh man, I love Christmas Eve.

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    1. I don't even know when we started, it just seems like we've always done it, and always on Christmas Eve (a tradition we carried on from my growing-up family). We started with trips to the dollar store where we helped them pick out things for each other. When they were old enough they started doing odd jobs around the house to earn those dollars to spend on each other on their own. Then it morphed into nicer gifts and drawing names of those they'd give to ($20 limit). And now instead of drawing names we just rotate down in age each year so everyone has a chance to give to everyone else. A little more detail about that back here: https://71toes.com/2011/12/friday-q_09.html and also here: https://71toes.com/2012/11/friday-q-achristmas-prep.html

  1. Touching post! Just read it and love Claire's idea of putting a piece of the nativity set on the plate of each person. I have long wanted to try the idea of "visiting Jerusalem" on Christmas Eve and that is a perfect way to have a little discussion. Thanks Claire and thanks for posting.

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