There are so many different cultures that celebrate Christmas and each one has their favorite foods for celebration. I had the pleasure of spending four years in Germany once upon a time and I loved seeing the various food stalls and what they had to offer for Christmas. In Germany there are the stollen bread/cakes, gingerbread, and anise cookies. In England there are mincemeat pies. In Scotland there is a nice variety of shortbread cookies. In Italy there is a delicious bread that I miss dearly. Austria as in much of Germany and surrounding countries there is warm gluhwein-wine, sort of grog, a spiced hot wine. And who could forget the candies that each country and region displays. Of course the Swiss and France corner the market on chocolate in my opinion. No matter where we live in the world, if we are Christians we incorporate our favorite foods for our Christmas meal together. So here is what I am thinking of having for Christmas.
Through the years I have had to adjust my Christmas schedule quite a bit. First of all I was used to having a Christmas Eve through Christmas Day number of people anywhere from ten to fifteen or twenty. As time passed that number has dwindled quite a bit and now I just have two or four. When I was married it seemed that we always had my parents and also college students from foreign countries come and spend time with us at Christmas since our own children were in college. Those were some happy Christmas memories. But in the past ten years I have become accustomed to having only two of my four children with me during Christmas time. Often on Christmas Day after our traditional Christmas breakfast there is only my son and I. Adjusting has become the norm for me in many areas of life in the past ten years. I am pleased that this year I will have three of my four children with me on Christmas Eve day and so that will be when we have our big family feast.
I have decided to cook a turkey and of course I like dressing so I will also fix a bread dressing/stuffing with bread, celery, walnuts, and spices that’s been mixed with chicken or turkey stock broth. I will bake it after the turkey comes out of the oven. Along with the turkey and dressing I will cook some fresh cranberries, something I discovered last year. They cook so quickly and are so delicious as a sauce for the turkey. Since one of my children loves mashed potatoes and gravy I will also cook about five pounds of potatoes to be mashed with a little milk and butter as well as salt and pepper. Gravy at my house comes from a can because I make terrible tasting gravy. My youngest son loves homemade dinner rolls so we will probably have some of them that I will make a day or two ahead. And then we will have corn in some form. Some years I fix roasting ears and other years I just microwave a package of corn. There will be some form of a salad, my extended family has a lot of delicious recipes for holiday salads and I will use one or two of them. Dessert will be pecan pie with cool whip or redi whip and another flavor of pie. Some years I have a berry pie, other years it is an apple or cherry pie. During my childhood my Mom would always make a mincemeat pie and a green tomato pie for Christmas dessert. Truthfully I hated both of them so this is one tradition I don’t keep in my family. Sorry Mom! There will be a ton of homemade Christmas cookies and candies that will be available throughout the time my family is here.
Christmas Eve has been a tradition since I can remember as a time for snack foods because my family I grew up in always had a large family gathering of extended family at my uncle’s house on Christmas Day. I miss those times as it was always a fun time with my cousins. But after I had my own family I continued the snack foods for supper because I was tired from preparations for the family feast on Christmas Day. I am still thinking that we may have snack foods for supper on Christmas Eve this year because I will be tired from cooking the big family feast that we will have eaten earlier in the day. This is a time for chips and pretzels, crackers and cheese, fresh fruits and veggies with dip, and little sandwich makings. After everyone has had some grazing time over the snack foods we always gather in whichever room has the Christmas tree and presents and read the Christmas Story from the Bible before we open our presents. My parents instituted this tradition and I love it. I remember my Dad always reading the Christmas Story from a children’s Bible when we were younger and then the old King James Bible when we were older. It is a time to remember what Christmas is really all about. We will do this again this year for sure! Some family traditions are worth keeping alive and I think this one certainly is worthy of that honor.
Christmas morning there will be a Christmas breakfast with hot tea and coffee and a plate of artisan breads and rolls to choose from. Some of the breads I will make but some will also be purchased at our best store bakery. I usually bake my favorite scone recipes and maybe even some cinnamon rolls. Of course there will be many spreads for the breads, jams, jellies, honey, butter, and spreadable cheeses. Then we will also have fresh mandarin oranges or clementines as well. This hearkens back to my Mom’s family tradition of each child having an orange in their Christmas sock on Christmas morning. It was not easy for her parents to find such an item in the middle of winter on the prairie of Nebraska in the 1920’s. I am sure that the railroad was how the store owner in her small village got the oranges delivered, probably from Florida or possibly California, and how they kept them from freezing is a mystery to me. We will also have some type of sausages and eggs. I usually like to have soft-boiled eggs but we also may have scrambled eggs as well. It is a time to enjoy our family time together before those who came home for Christmas leave to go to their other families meals. I never seem to get my adult children on Christmas Day, always Christmas Eve. Sigh. But that is how it is.
The main reason for my family to come and celebrate Christmas Eve with me is not for the food, it is to remember that no matter where we are in life or what happens next we love each other. We come to honor each other before our Savior Jesus Christ. Part of my family will have traveled a long way to spend a few hours at home with me and those who live near me. I appreciate that they come, that they show me they still love me, that they honor their Mom. But as I am their Mom, my hope is that the food I make for them will be enjoyable and delicious and that one day they will look back and say, “I sure am glad that I came home to eat Mom’s cooking.” Merry Christmas!
Until Next time…Katherine