Thursday, December 4, 2008

How Do You Celebrate Christmas?

Do you celebrate Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Is there a particular menu you serve?

I often see the same feast repeated for both Thanksgiving and Christmas--which always puzzles me. I make a point of differentiating the two meals.

When I was a small child, we would have the family party on Christmas Eve at my grandmother's house. There was no endless waiting for a formal meal to end--no, it was grab-a-plate and head for the living room to get in on the present-opening action! Paper flew everywhere and "ooh"s and "aah"s and "wow"s and "thanks" were hollered from various corners of the room interspersed with lots of laughter and various shenanigans.

We'd go home and straight to bed--that is, after we left a snack for Santa. After we were soundly asleep, my uncle came to help my mother arrange our [unwrapped] gifts from Santa, decorate the tree with foil-wrapped chocolates and fill our stockings.

Christmas morning my brother would wake us all with shrieks of delight as he found what seemed to our young eyes a veritable mountain of toys! "Santa has been! Santa has been!"

One year he didn't wake us, though.

That was the year Aaron managed to get his wee paws on every single foil-wrapped chocolate on the tree and eat them for breakfast.

Christmas Day was a time for play. I'm sure mom must have made us take meals--I just don't remember it. I don't even remember a formal dinner that evening! I suspect everyone just continued with leftovers from the night before. After all, we children barely slept with all the excitement, and the adults in the family slept even less with all the set-up with some assembly required.

Even though that was a long, long time ago, these are the memories that drive my menu-planning for Christmas. My preference is to celebrate on Christmas Eve, although that isn't always possible with in-law issues and trying to bring the whole family together. But whatever day we celebrate, I like to do it with simple foods: ham, either spiral-sliced and easy-to-grab for a sandwich, or, like my g'ma used to do, a cold cut tray along with macaroni and potato salad, baked beans, rolls, a fruit salad and cookies or pie.

That sounds like Christmas to me!


Mary said...

We celebrate at my mom's on Christmas Eve with a roast beef, twiced baked potatoes, green bean casserole, broccoli, assorted pickles, rolls and sweet breads, and if the vegetarian faction of the family is coming, a vegetarian dish. There is also a LOT of wine. In my family we were allowed to have a glass of wine with Christmas dinner when we were 12.

Christmas with the in-laws is half assed and happens whenever the one sister decides she's free (the rest of the family remains flexible except for me claiming Christmas Eve). They serve food buffet style and it's a mish mash like turkey, spaghetti and meatballs, egg noodles, and apple wedges. I haven't told them, but I'm bringing salad.

Whoops! Long comment!

Amanda said...

Hehe... oh, Mary, it could be a movie: Half-A$$ed Christmas. I can almost see the buffet table at your in-laws.

We, too, were allowed wine on special occasions as kids. Your Christmas Eve sounds wonderful.

Sam said...

We celebrate on Christmas day itself, usually just family although we had some friends over last year.

The meal is always roast turkey with all the trimmings. That's roast potatoes, bacon wrapped sausages (I love those!), stuffing, a selection of vegetables, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and I could go on and on!

Finally when everyone is stuffed there's the obligatory Christmas pudding with brandy sauce!

Amanda said...

That sounds lovely, Sam. What is bread sauce?

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