We spent Christmas Eve as we always do, with friends in town. The players change with time, and the venue has too, but the sentiment is the same: it is the closest I come to church. We socialize, enjoy amazing food, and read Christmas stories to each other. Every year is different, but the love is the same. Powerful stuff, if the truth be told.
I have always been fortunate with friends. Ok, maybe not always, but in my adult life for sure. I met some amazing people in college (and we hope to get together every November....) and am surrounded by incredible people here. But the longest friend I have was actually my sister's friend first. Let me sum up:
MVP lived about 2 miles from our house. She and my sis were best friends off and off through elementary school, but it 'stuck' in high school. (Best costume ever was the year they were a clothes line: they were each trees with a bit of line between them and mittens hanging off it. Nowadays they'd have to take it apart because of safety issues, but in 1980-whatever-it-was, it rocked BHS.) We all ran cross country together (and by "ran" I really mean "limped along the course to cross a finish line and score pathetic points"...) and became a solid group before too long. For many years, Sis and I would head to her house before heading to the Christmas Eve service at our church. Now, keep in mind that said friend was Greek. Which meant Greek pastries. So no matter how many Aunts were in the kitchen working on finishing touches, we were happy to stay in the living room out of the way, exchange gifts... and of course we'll sample the wares while we're around...
Her mother always served us ginger ale, in a paper cup. Every year. It was part of what happened: amazing baklava, and paper cups of soda. Flash forward 10 years, and her mom passed away after a battle with cancer. And now every Christmas Eve, I remember that first tradition that was mine, and not my parents, and toast Mrs. V's memory. This year, my children realized Santa doesn't like milk AT ALL, and would much rather have a Coke. So here's to you, Mrs. V. It's not ginger ale in a paper cup, but it is given with love by some wonderful children. I have no doubt you'd approve.