Christmas is a big deal for my family. We celebrate on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve begins with a dinner followed by church and then an evening snack. We move from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day watching mass from the Vatican even though we’re not Catholic. Dinner would vary based on who was there from pasta to turkey and all the trimmings. The midnight snack was always the same, cheese straws, sausage balls and cookies. A plate of cookies was always left for Santa with a glass of cold milk and carrots for the reindeer.
Christmas morning was always an early celebration. A fire in the fireplace, juice, and coffee while we opened presents and stockings and then a huge breakfast. Breakfast was always a breakfast casserole and sugar cake. If you’ve never had sugar cake you are missing a treat. I love to tell everyone it is mashed potatoes as it has a potato base. It is truly a treat.
Christmas day was always spent with family and friends dropping by the house for a cup of eggnog. My Dad was the nog maker. He would begin on Christmas Eve “cooking” the egg yolks in a bourbon and brandy bath overnight. Cheese straws also made by Dad, fruitcake cookies, Chinese chews and sands (cookies) made by Mom would accompany the egg nog as we visited with our guests.
The day would end with a delicious dinner of beef tenderloin, potatoes, asparagus and applesauce raisin cake for dessert.
I have my own version of holiday traditions now but I’ve kept many of those I grew up with. I make the cheese straws and eggnog now and we’re having beef Wellington on Christmas Eve rather than for Christmas dinner. No cookies this year but the cake is made! The DVD of White Christmas is ready to watch and I’ll be up late for church. Christmas Day will be filled with visits with friends and my box of sugar cake arrived, after all what would Christmas morning be without sugar cake.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!
I love Christmas. I always have. There is the sense of anticipation, the arrival of family, feasting on good food, and, of course, Santa! This weekend I started decorating for the season and making lists. List, plural, there as in a gift list, a stocking list, a card list, a grocery list for the makings of cookies and cheese straws. LOL standing for lots of lists is how I make it through the season. If it is not on a list, it’s not bought or done. I confess, I don’t know how my Mom ever did it.
There are traditions that I love to repeat every year and one of them is sugar cake. This is a delicacy from Old Salem or Dewey’s Bakery that is a bread only made with mashed potatoes, sugar and spices that was always part of Christmas morning. Christmas morning was always delayed first until it reached 6 am and was appropriate to wake everyone in the house, then for the fire to be started in the fireplace, and, finally, for my Dad to make eggnog and coffee for the adults to enjoy while we opened presents and Santa. This was a compromise for my Dad’s side of the family as Mom’s side celebrated Christmas (or the opening of presents) following midnight mass on Christmas Eve with wine, cheese and sausage balls. My mother beautifully melded the two customs with the sausage balls and cheese straws following Christmas Eve services and the opening of presents with sugar cake and eggnog on Christmas morning. Mom was excellent at melding the favorite things of both sides of the family so everyone had what they wanted. She would have been a wonderful diplomat!
The Christmas stocking is another list venture. Each member of the household has their own sock to be hung by the fire. This includes the quadrupeds. If you saw my sock list you would laugh, sudoku and puzzle books, candy and fruit, dog treats and toys, gadgets to amuse, batteries for those receiving presents requiring batteries and anything amusing I might discover along the way. I confess, socks are often my favorite part of Christmas. One of my favorite childhood memories is my Grandfather pulling out the longest stocking I’d ever seen for “Santa” to fill.
So many wonderful memories and so many lists.