Christmas Eve has always been an exciting day in my family. When we lived in Uruguay, my parents let me and my brother stay up till midnight to shoot off fireworks (as is the custom there) and then open all of our presents (after all, it was technically Christmas morning!). After we moved back to the States, there were no more fireworks to stay up for, but we kept the tradition of opening our presents at the stroke of midnight. Every year, we would eat panetón, listen to my dad read the Christmas story, sing a verse of "Silent Night," and then open our gifts as the Pope celebrated midnight Mass in the background.
This year was totally different. A celebration took place in the afternoon, rather than at midnight. There were no fireworks, but there were plenty of balloons. The pile of presents was on the dining room table, not under the Christmas tree, and not a single one was for me. The panetón was replaced by frosted cupcakes. And rather than singing "Silent Night" once, we sang "Happy Birthday"—four times!