In my family growing up we had a great (and pretty strange) tradition for Christmas Eve. We all dressed up like different characters in the Christmas story and acted as if we were having the farewell dinner for Mary and Joseph before they left to Bethlehem. We ate fish and figs and pita and hummus and asked Mary how she was feeling and Joseph why he was taking his pregnant wife so far away. Elizabeth and Zacharias and John always showed up, along with a smattering of wise men, and prophetesses and fishermen and shepherds. One year even Samuel the Laminite miraculously appeared from the Americas. I love it. We usually ended up thinking a lot about how those people really felt as well as laughing as we all got really into our characters. This is one tradition that I'm fighting to keep (as I did buy plates in Jerusalem just for the occasion).
This year we decided to make middle eastern food and invite some of our dear friends. They really made the night. Not only did they help finish making the felafel, they totally got dressed up. and chose really interesting characters and researched them and made it funny and interesting all at once. As my friend Heidi pointed out, every where you looked there was something to laugh about....jeff in a pink bathrobe, Chris in a turban.....it was great.
We had three Mary's.....easier to have three then to severely disappoint two little girls. That made the dinner conversation a bit tricky, but they loved it....for a while. When the kids started to get a little antsy Chris brilliantly suggested that they go and "watch a vision" in the form of TV. So we put on the Church's Luke 2 DVD to give them a vision of what was to come to pass in the Christmas story and we all sat finishing up the felafel's and talking about some of the details of the Christmas story. It was so nice to really stop and think about these things.
We had the kids act out the Nativity story after the dinner....that was also a little tricky, three Mary's and one Joseph.