In my family, Christmas Eve is probably a bigger day than Christmas itself, because that’s when we normally gather together for the big family party. There’s lots of food, usually a little bit of this and a little bit of that, with the one constant being Waldorf salad, of all things. The kids get presents from grandma and their great aunts and uncles, everybody catches up, there are lots of hugs and lots of jokes and I can’t think of a single argument that ever broke out at one of these parties. I’m pretty lucky that the people in my family actually like each other and don’t dread getting together!

That’s all on hold this year, of course, and it’s a bummer. One of the things that drew me back to the Midwest after living in New England for so many years was being able to bring my own kids to the Christmas Eve party, and the last few Christmas Eves have been even more magical to me than the ones I loved as a kid! A lot of this has to do with music; after dinner, the musicians in the family bring out the guitars and everybody sings. As much as certain members of the family (who will go nameless here!) have tried to broaden the repertoire to include some excellent but extremely downbeat non-holiday songs, we mostly stick to the classics. Though, of course, you can always interpret the classics in a new way, as postpunk pioneers Husker Du did on their 1986 for-promotional-use-only cassette “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” It plays more like a bit of fun in the studio than anything else, but hey, it’s 2020, we’ll take any fun we can get.

And to my relatives: can’t wait to see you all next Christmas Eve!