24th Day: Christmas Eve

On the twenty-fourth day we partook in some of our family Christmas Eve traditions.  We made fresh cookies for Santa, had our Chrismas Eve fish dinner (Italian tradition), went to mass, drove around looking at Christmas lights, and ended our night with our special Santa postal box.

We started off the morning with dad’s special breakfast.  Brad is the breakfast cook in our house, so he was more than happy to fire up the griddle to make a breakfast feast.  Marshall and I were playing in the living room as Brad cooked; that’s when something caught my eye outside.  What was out there?  Ten little ‘reindeer’!  I quickly called Marshall and Brad over and we watched as a group of six to the right of our house, and four to the left, made their way across the street ever so slowly before disappearing into the woods.  Santa must have sent them as a practice run.

Brad & Marshall watching all the reindeer

After our surprise reindeer sighting we ate our delicious breakfast and cleaned up quickly to start our batch of cookies for Santa.  We let Marshall pick out his cookies this year and he picked out a ninja bread cookie kit from Toys R’ Us for five bucks.  That’s what you get when you let a two year old boy pick out Santa’s cookies.

Carefully making Santa a special fighting treat

Last year Marshall’s favorite part of baking was stirring up the ingredients; this year he was all over the rolling it out and cutting out the ninjas.  It is so fun to see him grow and how much more he can do from year to year.  Once we were done cutting out all of our ninjas and put them in the oven to bake, we had to change Marshall’s clothes as he was pretty covered in flour after all the rolling pin fun.

Pro tip: when putting icing in a bag, drape
it in a glass for less mess


Marshall creating his ninja


Brad bringing ninjas to life

We had so much fun bringing our ninjas to life.  Marshall absolutely loved the little fighters and sticking the candies on them.  After they were all decorated he even tried one!  Now, Marshall is a cookie monster but he has never had a gingerbread cookie- he’s partial to chocolate chip.  Well, he was a trooper and tried it unprompted.  He started chewing and then quickly started gagging, I started grabbing our little ninjas as Brad picked Mads up and brought him to the trash can.  Marshall was fine, just very dramatic about his disdain for gingerbread.  Good thing these were meant for Santa and not Marsh!

Trying his first gingerbread, a photo moments
later wouldn’t be quite as cute.

After our fun cookie creations we read ‘The Gingerbread Boy‘ that Marshall was given from his Grandma & Grandpa G over Thanksgiving.  We read the story and then made up another story- one where after the gingerbread boy was able to get out of all those close calls he went and learned martial arts, becoming the ninja bread boy that we made today.  It was fun to make up our own little family story with cookie visuals.

Some of the ninjas showing off their moves

We read some more books and took a short nap before it was time for us to make our early Christmas Eve dinner.  Now, I like to keep the Italian tradition of having fish on Christmas Eve as to keep vigil for the birth of Jesus Christ.  As I said last year, this is typically a feast of seven different fish dishes but we are a small family so we like to keep it simple.  In the future, as our family grows and as we have extended family over, I will expand to have the full meal- but for now I keep it easy to make and easy to clean up before the craziness that is my cooking on Christmas.  We made tuna baked in a creamy sauce and cheesy pasta with vegetables.  Both are steamed in bags so there is literally no clean up outside of the dinner plates and silverware and it is ready in twenty-five minutes.  Marshall doesn’t like tuna so he had shrimp with veggie sticks.

Awesome fish dinner

With full bellies we started getting ready for mass, Marshall even got to wear his beloved sweater vest that he wore back on the third day, he was pretty happy about that.

In his Christmas best

After mass we always drive around to look at Christmas lights as the radio plays classic holiday tunes.  Marshall and I even found out that papa knows all the words to “All I want is a Hippopotamus“, Mads was not enthused by this revelation and kept vigorously shaking his head ‘no’ and yelling at Brad while Brad gleefully kept belting it out with the radio.  It was quite the car ride.

We returned home to Santa’s special elvish postal box!  Every year an elf comes and drops off a special post box while we are at mass.  This is because Brad grew up being allowed to open one Christmas present on Christmas Eve, I grew up with the tradition Christmas presents are for Christmas morning- no exceptions.  This was the happy median, so we signed up for Santa’s special Christmas Eve deliveries.  The box includes: a fresh baked treat from Mrs. Claus, new pajamas, new book, cocoa, and Christmas mugs for the entire family.  In the past Santa has given a Christmas themed book & pajamas, but since Marshall already has so many of both, Santa gave him a truck book and ninja turtle pajamas- some of Mads’ favorite things!

Opening his box, excited for all the goodies


Unveiling Mrs. Claus’s cookie-brownies, a Dingman
family favorite (chocolate chip cookie dough baked in chocolate brownies)


Our edible goods


Papa & Marshall showing off their snowman mugs


Marshall’s night-night presents

We made our special Christmas cocoa, enjoyed our cookie-brownies, and Papa read a number of Christmas books to Marshall.  Marshall really seemed to enjoy “The Night Before Christmas” and “One Tiny Baby” (Nativity story).  It was such a nice, peaceful night.

Our snow family cocoa set


Reading some of our Christmas books

Once Brad went through the books, Marshall started on his Christmas picture for Santa.  When he gets older he will tell Santa why he has been a good boy all year (since Mads leaves out a list on St. Nick Day), but for now he colors nice pictures as a gift to Santa.  After he put on the finishing touches, we set out some milk and cookies (one decorated by each family member) and some carrots for the reindeer.

Mads vigorously coloring Santa’s picture


Santa’s set up- ninja bread decorated by each of us, milk, reindeer
carrots, and Marshall’s picture

Marshall didn’t like being told it was time for the fun to end and for him to go to bed, so he tried to close himself up in a box!  Don’t get me wrong, he is my favorite gift of all time, but this was just ridiculous.  He, as well as Brad and myself, got a good chuckle out of it though.

Elf in a box- that’s one way to see Santa come to the tree

Christmas Eve was perfect for us in more ways than we can imagine.  Reindeer sightings, ninja bread cookies, delicious fish, and so much more.  It was nice to celebrate traditions of our heritage, religion, and uniquely our family.  Today really highlighted how blessed we are in our lives and in having each other.  It showed how much Marshall has grown and how much he is starting to understand about this holiday, however young he may be.  Now we must bid everyone goodnight as we excitedly await Santa’s arrival in the form of presents under our tree, and Jesus’ arrival in the form of the baby in our Nativity manger.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!


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