Christmas Eve Magic Resolves Parenting Time Conflict

So it’s not your year for Christmas Morning custody? Never fear, there are many options for making Christmas Eve or Christmas Evening just as special. This could be the year for creating new traditions or reviving the family customs you compromised for your spouse. Reclaim the Elf on the Shelf that your spouse thought was creepy or start a backward meal with dessert. If you’re worried about missing the wonder in the kids’ eyes as they survey Santa’s magic, set aside the constraints of traditional Christmas morning routines and bring that same wonder to Christmas Eve. Maybe give that jolly guy a shout and see if he can bump you to the front of the list on Christmas Eve while you’re at Family Mass.

Christmas Brinner

Just because it’s not traditional breakfast-time, doesn’t mean you can’t have breakfast foods. What better a guilty pleasure than Christmas Tree-shaped pancakes for dinner? Made-to-order omelets are festive with green and red bell peppers. If it’s Aunt Ella’s traditional cinnamon rolls you crave, you can start them proofing at 4 p.m. rather than 4 a.m.

Go outside

  • Play Christmas light BINGO. Take a snowy stroll around the neighborhood and mark off a square for every Strand of Purple Lights/”Christmas Story”Leg Lamp/Nodding Reindeer/etc. you see until someone fills in a row.
  • Not every family has acres for a Kennedy-style football game but there’s always space for No-Rules Beach Ball Soccer. You’ll giggle so hard your abs will ache.
  • Night-skiing, sledding, and ice-skating. Lots of recreational activities are open Christmas Eve or Christmas Evening and may not be crowded.
  • Snowy Croquet. Whether you have a regulation croquet set or street hockey sticks, whiffle balls and coat hangers, croquet is an sure game for all generations to enjoy together. It’s a stitch when there’s deep fluffy powder.

Show and Tell

If you take custody on the 26th, you can still savor the gifts. Take turns showing and telling about your favorite gifts. Take time to savor the stories behind how they were chosen and the creative ways they were given. If the gift list included clothing, try on an outfit and walk the catwalk (hallway).

The Reason for the Season

While Christmas morning’s thrill may be gifts, Christmas Eve and Christmas Evening are perfect times for the family to embrace the reason for the season. There’s never a wrong time for reading Bible passages, praying as a family, giving thanks, singing carols or discussing the true meaning of Christmas.

A Long Winter’s Nap

If your exchange takes place on Christmas afternoon, you might be tempted to launch right into a second gift-giving frenzy. But, whether the kids’ attended a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass with your ex or stayed up late listening for reindeer on the rooftop, by 4 p.m. Christmas Day they’re probably pooped. So when they’re handed over, instead of fighting the grumpy-drowsies and diving right in to gift-opening, give in to the naptime Sirens. There’s nothing like some quiet time after a busy morning of brunch, relatives, gifts, and photos. Don’t think of it as wasting the time you have together, think of it as time well spent to improve the rest of the evening. Better to have five happy hours than seven tense ones. So, put those footie jammies right back on and shoo them off to their rooms. The big kids will want to put new music on their iPods anyway and, who knows, maybe the little ones will actually doze off. Then call in the elves to work their magic. When the kids wake up or emerge rested from their rooms, they’ll find Christmas surprises all over again.