Christmas: Where Old Memories Meet New Traditions
When I was younger it seemed to take forever to get here. Oh, how I waited with great anticipation to start baking and menu planning, decorating, singing Christmas carols, and of course, shopping. The festive aromas and bountiful flavors alone would start me singing O Come, All Ye Faithful!
Picking the perfect Christmas gift for everyone on my list has always been a challenge. I want it to reflect the memories we’ve shared, and of course it has to be fun. I strive to give that perfect gift that slaps a big ol’ happy grin on their face.
And the Christmas parties and opening of our homes to friends and family for yummy treats and tasty libations that bring out the real Christmas cheer! Food is such a unifier, and there’s no time that’s more true than around the holidays.
Our family tradition starts with Christmas Eve midnight mass at the beautifully decorated local Cathedral. It brings you back to the true joy of Christmas. And where else can you belt out in song with the confidence of Adele…or not. We’d return home for a glass of my mom’s wonderfully homemade, “special” eggnog to seal the night with love for all.
On Christmas Day we had our big feast. Prior to dinner, Dad would make us all an Old Fashioned cocktail with Rye Whiskey. That was his choice and his ONLY choice — you couldn’t have any other cocktail. Card laid, card played. He was just the kind of dad that wanted everyone to eat or drink as he did…only if you were of age, of course.
So we sat around sipping our drinks and nibbling on tasty holiday appetizers of chicken liver pâté, boiled shrimp, and my mom’s famous baked spicy cheese covered olives.
Once dinner was ready, it always started with the same dish…individual dark bing cherry congealed salad. The cherries were stuffed with pecans and laced with sherry. This is not your everyday jello salad…trust me.
Mom’s roast beef tenderloin was the main meat event. She wrapped it in bacon, and this was waaaaay before the bacon craze we know today. It was served with sinfully garlic, creamy, scalloped potatoes and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, of course. Mom made the best homemade dinner rolls that were as light as they were buttery…so of course, we’d slap more butter on. Dessert was her favorite. She’d make a coconut layer cake that was to die for!
I just love those memories…
But it wasn’t until after I had my daughter that I got to see the magic of Christmas in a whole new light. As a mother now, I was the one doing the cooking, preparing the parties, decorating the house, and watching the joy of Christmas unfold through the eyes of my child. She made Christmas exciting in a whole new light that made me feel like a kid again, myself.
Now as a grandmother, we’re continuing to create new traditions and build on the old. With my adorable two-year-old grandson, our two dogs, my husband, and my grown daughter, Christmas doesn’t look the same, but I’m seeing it in yet another new light. And having a blast! Despite the changes and added chaos, some things must be kept in tradition, and for me, that means food. So, in keeping with tradition, I’ll be doing Mom and Dad’s Christmas dinner menu again this year.
At the same time, in not keeping with tradition, this year, I decided not to put up a tree. Instead, I’ve done up the house with some awesome festive bows and little lights. I brought out the creche, or nativity scene, that my daughter and I have always loved, and gave it a little facelift. You know how these holiday favorites start to look a little “tired” after all these years. To give it a bit of modern day bling I added some tiny lights on a copper wire that runs on batteries. Just like that, old becomes new (ish).
But I didn’t stop there…
After I’d adorned the roof with lights, I had a lot of lighting leftover. Not wanting to waste an ounce of Christmas cheer, I decided to spruce up Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus of course. Mary and Joseph were easy to bling, but when I got to Baby Jesus…I found myself strangling him and putting him in bondage in his manger.
Oh dear, I am sorry God…but it looks so much better when the lights are on…please do forgive me!
So now that my decorations are upgraded, the Christmas menu is set, and new and old traditions are coming together, I’m ready to celebrate! It’s not as much about giving gifts to one another as it is about God’s gifts to us. We have the gift of life and I plan to celebrate that everyday.
Merry Christmas everyone and be sure to share your love with all!
I’d love to hear your old and new Christmas traditions! What are you serving, who’s coming, what gifts are exchanged, and how do you honor the past, present, and future of Christmas? Let me know in the comments section below or on my Facebook page.