Growing up in Phoenix, Ariz., meant that there would be no snow or crackling fire; however, that did not detract from the delight and joy of Christmas. I have many memories of the holidays but my favorite tradition of all was our Christmas Eve ritual.
After the pumpkin pies and Grandma Carbonelli's nut bars were baked, we three girls would take our baths and put on our pajamas. All the lights in the house would be turned off except for the Christmas tree. Each family member would light a candle to be carried throughout the house as we sang Christmas carols. Even the cat would join in and follow us as we processed from room to room. My father loved to sing and his wonderful voice will forever be remembered when I hear, "Oh Come All ye Faithful" or "Joy To The World." In the darkness with just the candles' glow, we would all be filled with wonder and awe of this special night. The final carol would be sung around the tree where we would read from the Bible about the birth of Jesus and then we girls would each open one gift.
Each Christmas I think back on this simple yet beautiful tradition of singing carols by candle light and I am always filled with an overwhelming joy. It is also this tradition which is the most poignant memory for my sisters. It is not the gift giving or getting which makes Christmas so special, but rather, the time we spend with our loved ones which form memories to last a lifetime.