Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Traditions - The Pyjama Fairy

When we were kids, I'm pretty sure our Christmas Eve traditions were pretty fluid. I remember doing some things some years and other things other years. It sound like, from talking to other people, this is pretty normal. No one really knows what to do on Christmas Eve!

Most years we went to a Candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. These were my favourite. All the lights in a big sanctuary turned off, one candle lighting the next candle 'til the room glowed a heavenly orange. Singing 'Silent Night' and 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful', in what sounded to me like a beautiful choir's voice. Nothing made us feel more Christmasy!

We'd then go home after church and some years we'd be allowed to open all the gifts in our stockings, other year's we'd get to choose one gift to open. We never did the Santa thing so the gifts would have been under the tree for what felt like a millennia, just waiting to be opened. The stockings would have been hanging from the fireplace fat with surprises, just taunting us with their secrets. Each gift by this point had already been shaken, held up to the light, and possibly even had a bit of tape pulled away in hopes of revealing some clue as to its contents. Opening one gift on Christmas Eve made for a very difficult choice... which of those gifts was alluding us the most? We certainly didn't want to open the wrong one and get a pair of socks for Christmas Eve.

As we got older, Christmas Eve night became Chocolate Gravy night. For dinner, we'd make biscuits, bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages and my Mamaw Mitchell's famous chocolate gravy. Chocolate gravy is basically a hot, thick homemade pudding poured over buttery biscuits. A little would ooze over onto the bacon. It was amazing. Chocolate gravy seemed to be a Christmas and Thanksgiving delight only, like pumpkin pie and stuffing, and we looked forward to it every year.

A few years later I started my own family, and we started making some traditions of our own. We continued going to Candlelight carol services, and then for the past few years, I started going to midnight mass with my dear friend Maria. That was one of my favourite traditions. It felt wonderful waiting until 11.30pm and then wrapping up warm in a coat, hat, scarf and gloves and walking down the road to St Mary's Cathedral in the unusually still and quiet Greenock night, lit only by street lights, sometimes crunching through white glittery snow, to meet Maria and enjoy a solemn hour to myself with my friend, in a big beautiful church. Of all the Christmasy things about Scotland I miss, this is the one I miss the most. In fact, we'd be going out in about an hour if I were still there. That's a little sad for me.

For a couple of years we tried the stockings thing. Since we only do Santa half-heartedly, sometimes the stockings are full before Santa comes, sometimes Santa fills them. One year we did the open-one-present thing, but living on a budget turned me off that one. It made the next day's presents look a little sparse. Plus, despite our Santa half-heartedism, the kids are pretty sure it IS Santa who brings the gifts (even though the tags say 'From Mum & Dad'), so it's a bit confusing to them, the whole presents-before-he-arrives thing.

Homemade pyjamas
Then one year I heard a radio program with callers sharing their own Christmas traditions. One woman said that each Christmas Eve, they received new pyjamas* and washed all the bed linens for Christmas. Thus the Pyjama Fairy was born in my mind.

Last year's Princess Pyjama Fairy jammies

Over the years, the Pyjama Fairy has developed a back story and a modus operandi that has become firmly traditionalized. (Not a word, don't care.) Each Christmas Eve, at some point when the kids aren't around, the Pyjama Fairy steals into the house and makes all the beds. When she's feeling up to it (and has enough time) she changes and washes all the linens too. If she's feeling particularly flush that year, she buys new linens. Then she lays out a fresh new pair of pyjamas on each bed. When she has time, she makes them by hand. When she's busy, she just buys them.

All of this disorganization fits perfectly with her personality. See, the Pyjama Fairy is a fallen tooth fairy. She used to work as a tooth fairy, but she wasn't very good at it. She was always making mistakes: forgetting to leave money, forgetting to bring back the tooth, losing teeth along the way, losing money along the way, missing houses entirely. Eventually she was fired and banished from tooth fairy land. But she missed all the children she once visited. Despite being a terrible tooth fairy, she was actually a very good seamstress. She began sewing pyjamas to make a living. At first she just retailed to other tooth fairies, but one Christmas she had an idea. She could make pyjamas for all those kids she used to visit. She spent the whole of the next year designing huge set of pyjamas for the children on her old watch, and on Christmas Eve she delivered them, often making their beds for them because they were usually such a mess. (She was surprisingly fastidious for a scatterbrained fairy.) Word got out about her pyjama deliveries and parents all over began requesting her services. Before she knew it, she had a huge business to run. She had to stop making all the pyjamas and started buying them in wholesale. But for those first few special children, she still sometimes takes the time to lovingly hand sew a custom set of jammies.

Pyjama Fairy forgot Mummy last year.

Today is Christmas Eve, time for all these fun traditions again. Scott took the kids out for an ice cream so the Pyjama Fairy could do her work. She washed all the linens and made all the beds.  She even left a little gift for cousin Ava (she couldn't find Ava's house).  Later on tonight we will be going to the Candlelight Carol Service at church at 7pm with my mom and step-dad. Chocolate gravy turned into a Christmas morning tradition at some point while I was living in Scotland, so we'll be gathering tomorrow, me and my brothers' families, for breakfast tomorrow.

Jaguar's TMNT jammies

Cousin Ava's jammies with a note.
Stole the spelling/letter errors idea from my step-sis Christy's elf.

Lolly & Fifi's jammies:
Strawberry Shortcake and La La Loopsy

She didn't forget Mum this year.
SuperGirl and Homer Simpson

*Up until today I have always spelled 'pyjamas' as 'pajamas'. I'm a little beside myself that I've been spelling it wrong my whole life. Plus, the actual spelling looks too much like 'pygmy'.

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