And just like that, Christmas week is upon us! I'm equal parts amazed and excited that Christmas is just days away. This holiday season seemed to sneak up on me especially fast, but I am very excited to see all of my siblings (albeit not at the same time) and celebrate my favorite time of the year!
One thing I love about this time of year is all the traditions that each family honors year over year. I'm always curious to hear about others' traditions so thought I'd share some of mine.
Phil and I have celebrated two Christmases together and have established a tradition of baking something together after we have dinner and open presents. On our first Christmas together we made peanut butter balls (aka buck-eyes) and this year we made Italian Almond cookies, which won the local paper's cookie recipe contest. They are gluten free as they are made with almond flour and are easy and tasty!
Shifting to my family, here are some of our Christmas traditions. Christmas Eve is definitely the bigger day of celebration for us, so all of our traditions tend to happen on Christmas Eve.
- We always attend mass as a family on Christmas Eve. These days we go to the earlier mass since we have lots of young kids, but before the kids came along we'd go to the latest service which was usually at 10 pm.
- Our Christmas Eve meal is all about seafood. For appetizers, we always have a platter of different cured fish, like smoked oysters (yum), sardines (ick), kipper snacks, which is a cured fish (yum), and herring (ick). We also have shrimp cocktail which my brothers makes by steaming fresh shrimp. It's SO good. 90% of the time I'm full by the time the appetizer course is over.
- The main meal is also all about seafood, but the meal has changed over the years. Our traditional meal when I was growing up was oyster stew which I honestly have never liked. But I come from one of those families where you eat what is served or you don't eat at all (my parents have 5 kids so I can not blame them for having this policy) so I used to eat a bowl of the broth and fill up on other stuff like the veggie tray. But these days we have other options like grilled shrimp and crab legs. My mom also makes a pasta option for the kids and those who don't care for seafood.
- We always have homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert, but dessert usually happens way after dinner because everyone is way too full to have it right after the meal. We used to have this old school ice cream maker. We would pack snow around the ice cream maker part to keep it cool instead of using ice. I observed this process a lot as a child and for the longest time I thought the snow actually went IN the ice cream but that was not the case. These days my mom uses her kitchen aid ice cream maker and it's a much more domesticated process - i.e. no snow is needed. :)
- Before we open gifts, most years we watch this home video that all the grandkids on my dad's side of the family made back in 1987 as a gift to our grandparents. It's an enactment of the story of Christmas from the bible and hilarious to watch. I'm almost 7 in the video and I played the part of the angel Gabriel. My aunt, who passed away last year, narrates it so it's neat to hear her voice. I am sure that when my parents and aunts and uncles made this video back in 1987, they never imagined we'd still be watching it all these years later, but we do.
- After the story of Christmas is read or watched, we open gifts. We go from youngest to oldest and each person takes a turn opening a present. Having kids around definitely makes gift opening more fun because they get SO excited.
- On Sunday morning, we sleep in and have a lazy start to the day. Santa comes for the little ones during the night so they wake up and have a few more presents to open. We have a big meal, but the main courses changes year to year.
What are some of your family's holiday traditions?