Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sentimental Sunday - Christmas meal traditions

As I'm sitting here thinking about what time to start dinner, I was reminiscing about the various Christmas meal traditions I have been part of.

When I was growing up, my parents would host dinner on Christmas Eve.  This included my immediate family (myself, mom, dad, sister, brother, his wife and their 3 children) as well as my dad's sister and my mother's father.  Mom would always make standing rib roast - she had ordered it from the grocer weeks before to be sure it was the right size and cut.  There was also a jello salad that she always made - called crown jewel salad - white fluffy base with squares of different colored jello (this was, after all, the sixties). 

Dad carving the roast - 1974

After dinner, everyone would pitch in to clear the table and do the dishes.  Then we would gather around the Christmas tree for our gift exchange.  After my brothers family went home, we would go to bed early because Santa was coming!

my sister, me, my nephew and my niece - 1967
My brother and his family 1968

In the morning, we would get up and come downstairs to see what Santa had brought - in our stockings and under the tree. 

My sister and I on Christmas morning 1968

Then we would go to my dad's brother's house for Christmas day dinner.  Uncle Dick and Aunt Mary would open their house to whoever was around - the gathering often included other aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as some neighbors.  They always had a little gift for everyone - I remember lots of little wind up toys.  Dinner there consisted of lamb (I have never tasted lamb that delicious since), and a noodle dish that we called "Greek Macaroni", because of Aunt Mary's Greek heritage.

Uncle Dick and Aunt Mary 1985
After I was married, our traditions changed a little.  We would have Christmas Eve at my parents, but Christmas day would be spent with my in-laws. My mother-in-law Trudi was an excellent cook.  She would make duck on the rotisserie, with all the trimmings (stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc).  And of course, Austrian pastries.  Yum!  Then we would gather around the Christmas tree.  My father-in-law would pass out presents - sometimes mixing up the "to" and the "from" on the tags.  Then, with a shout of "GERONIMO!" we would open the gifts.

My father-in-law distributing the presents 1983

I still carry on some of these traditions with my girls.  Today (Christmas Eve), I will make standing rib roast and Greek macaroni.  After church, we will have our gift exchange - with "Geronimo!".  The girls will wake me up early tomorrow morning and we will see what Santa brought.  Then I will make duck on the rotisserie and we will enjoy our Christmas day meal.  There are some variations, including Tofurky for my vegetarian daughter, but we try to keep the old meals alive.

Merry Christmas!