Réveillon is a French word defining the activities and celebration of Christmas Eve. It is the gathering of family and friends, young and old after the midnight mass to herald the new day. It is that sumptuous dinner where we put out the best in linen, china and silverware. It is a time of rejoicing.
Last year, our réveillon was at my sister’s house. Those of us who still go to church go to Christmas Day mass to avoid the huge crowd on Christmas Eve. Therefore our celebration started early. Friends and family were coming in at around 10 pm and kept arriving even after midnight.
From 10 to 11:30 pm, people were just mingling around talking, eating hors d’oeuvres and drinking. Then it was time to start our mini show. We had printed a whole program for the evening.
We gathered everyone in the living-room and surrounding spaces so they could all participate. We started the program with “Petit Papa Noël” and “Minuit Chrétiens” on behalf of the older crowd. They loved it. It was their childhood coming back all over again. And then we caroled in English and in Spanish to satisfy every taste.
Afterwards we moved on to Christmas games like Book Exchange, Freeze and Word Find among others . All winners won a gift. After the games, we had singing competitions. Everyone participated: children with each other, men against women, young against old, singles against singles and duos against duos. We then proceeded to showcase our voices. My younger sister and I sang “The Christmas Song.” She also sang with her son and I swear that we thought we were performing at Carnegie Hall. 🙂 The final gift was the most expensive one. Everyone had dropped their name in a clear bowl. The youngest kid was called to choose one name. And the winner happened to be a friend whose birthday was December 24. What a thrill for him!
We ended the program an hour or so later with everyone singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad.”
And then it was time for the sit-down dinner. We had lined up tables to tables the whole length of the patio so everyone could be together. The meal consisted of the traditional pumpkin soup to be followed by fried pork, rice and beans, macaroni and cheese, spicy island chicken, potato casserole, green salad and several other dishes. We had our version of bûche de Noël and other desserts. Mom made her prayer of blessing and it was time to dig in. After desserts, several people wanted fresh and strong coffee. They got it!
Once the meal was over, we disbanded into several groups all around the house. Young and old remained up as long as they could. The last person must have left at around 6 AM or thereafter. It was a memorable réveillon!