It is hard to believe that it is already Christmas Eve. My family knows that on Labor Day I begin my mantra “Christmas will be here before we know it” and it comes true each and every year. We woke up to about a half inch of snow here in Kansas City and the high is not supposed to reach 20 degrees, so I think we are guaranteed a White Christmas – which is always special. My eldest will be spending her first Christmas away from home. She has gone to Memphis to spend the holiday with her -in-laws. She and her husband will be missed, but we will just begin some new traditions on the 26th when they arrive back in town.
Our holidays are steeped in traditions, that began with baking several favorites over the weekend. Today’s tradition centers around the Italian tradition of the Vigil dinner. In the past I have made the dinner exactly as Geoff’s grandmother did for decades, but over time I have adapted the dinner to fit our own family’s tastes. We used to “import” bacala (salted cod) from St. Louis for the traditional bacala fritters, but since my father was the only one who truly enjoyed those, we ceased that tradition about two years ago. We have now substituted Alaskan Snow crab for the bacala. We also used to prepare whiting fish – but no one was a fan of that dish, so about 7 years ago I substituted boiled shrimp. I still make the angel hair and aioli sauce (anchovy – garlic – olive oil) and spinach bread (spinach – garlic – olive oil – parmesian – green olives) and I have added chicken cutlets to the menu as well (not fish related, but since we are no longer Catholic, I thought I could fudge on that minor detail). Dessert consists of several cookies plus the Italian honey balls called Strufoli (very time consuming – but worth the effort. In fact, I need to start on those as soon as I finish this blog entry).
We will eat the meal around 5:00 and then the clean up the kitchen will begin. Around 7:00 the kids are allowed to open their gifts to one another and then a special gift from us — always matching Pajamas and DVDs. At around 9:00pm the kids disappear to the basement where they will watch movies all night – and the parents will then wrap the Santa gifts and stocking stuffers while watching Preacher’s Wife (my personal favorite). Children are not allowed to wake up parents before 7:00am (yes….they are still very excited on Christmas morning and get us up very early. Then…..everyone goes back to bed around 10:00 and Mom has the house to herself for a short while).
Christmas morning consists of opening gifts and eating our traditional egg casserole with bagels and salmon cream cheese. The Christmas dinner will not be served until around 4:00pm and will consist of Prime Rib, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin or mincemeat pies. Children then spend the evening with friends – and parents relax in front of the fireplace, Geoff will probably watch television while I will read on my new kindle!
I love the next 48 hours because somehow time seems to stop. The traditions take over and it is as though the past, present and future have all merged at once. Troubles seem to disappear and the eternal hope that is truly Christmas seems to reign supreme. We have much to be thankful for this Christmas: health – food – shelter – love of family and friends. But we do have one Christmas wish – that Geoff could find employment soon. We know that our security is not in the job or in the dollars earned, but rather in Jesus Christ. But….the job and the money are (unfortunately) necessities here on this earth. I do have confidence that the Lord will provide, and I choose to cling to the following verse:
Matthew 6:31; 33-34 – So do not worry saying “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink” or “What shall we wear” ….But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
My all of you have a very blessed Christmas!!