Breaking the Rules on Christmas EveIn my family, Christmas Eve brings with it the now infamous Sauerkraut Soup, creamed peas, and fried pork chops. The entire house smells thick with these traditional foods, and while earlier I’d planned to wait until some of the aroma cleared out in order to get ready for the day, I have since decided that it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve if I didn’t smell like fried pork chops.

Two years ago, in fact, I remember stopping at my Grandma’s house to drop off the chops and soup so she had them ready for the family to stop in and eat in shifts around church services and in-law schedules, and I spilled some of the soup down the front of me in the process. When I got to church and sat down next to my sister, she said, “What’s that smell?”

“Ah, that would be me,” I whispered. “It’s meat juice. Let’s hope no one is out walking a dog after the service tonight.” We laughed about that.

But in all the gettings-ready and gift wrapping and cooking and dress-ironing (which I don’t do) and food delivery and cleaning and place-setting and traveling, so much comes together for this night that we’ve long since given up on trying to make a perfect holiday, following order and rules and such, and instead enjoy whatever the day brings, sometimes with unplanned spillings and sometimes with surprise visits from favorite cousins.

And in it all, I’m reminded of the original Christmas, with the prospect of mandatory and dangerous travel just to register to pay taxes, and the delivery of a baby in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem. [Earlier I wrote the travel was to Jerusalem, because I truly have Jerusalem on the brain these days. But no, Mary and Joseph were, of course, traveling to Bethlehem.] I think of the Magi, who followed the star, sent by King Herod himself. And when they found said baby under the star, they gave gifts befitting a king. And I think of how the Magi left by a different route, not returning to King Herod because they were warned in a dream that the King only intended to kill the baby.

I think of this especially, because, even a couple thousand years ago, wise men broke the rules and followed their dreams.

And the world was forever changed.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see