It's hard because Christmas Eve is a day with nearly as many expectations as Christmas itself.
Besides listening to the Border Brass' classic "Tijuana Christmas," which I most definitely did for the first time in decades, I had a non-stop day, although one of these things did not happen to me today:
I watched three episodes of the TV show "Friends"
I saw a marriage proposal unfold
I got chided about not having a cell phone
I opened a gift of jewelry
I walked to Rite-Aid in search of cocktail sauce
I listened to a new album with a lyric about "perversions of the heart" and mulled that over
I stood for the national anthem
In addition to the (totally not) traditional brown sugar and Dijon-coated ribs served with asparagus and fingerling sweet potatoes meal that preceded it, my Eve was occupied with seeing "It's Wonderful Life" at the Byrd, a particularly notable event given that I'd been out of town and missed it last year.
As if the holiday gods had been looking out for me, though, I'd seen Bob Gulledge playing the mighty Wurlitzer organ for the annual holiday singalong already twice this month, so tonight's singalong - "If you do it right, I won't even be able to hear the organ," the nattily-dressed Bob told us - didn't have its usual novelty value.
Still, there's always something reassuringly familiar and appropriately holiday-like about hearing an organ on Christmas Eve.
Fortunately, the people behind us could carry a tune, even if they sounded like annoying eager beaver choir members singing at the top of their lungs doing it.
But it's not officially Christmas until the black and white bells of "It's a Wonderful Life" begin ringing onscreen to announce the movie that's become an integral part of my yearly celebration.
Who ever gets tired of hearing Jimmy Stewart say, "Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope!" when looking at a suitcase too small for his imaginary trips? Or watching his loose-limbed, long-legged gait as he tears through Bedford Falls appreciating every small-town nook and cranny in the place he once hoped to escape?
All of that I'd counted on when I got to the Byrd, but completely unexpected was a screen reading, "Peggy, Will you marry me? Kevin" followed by a couple in the back hugging ecstatically (my guess is she said yes). The only thing missing was the Ray Conniff Singers doing "Christmas Bride."
So it was Peggy, not me, who opened a gift of jewelry today. May her perversions of the heart line up with Kevin's for eternity and a Christmas Eve.