Merry Christmas Eve!!
Throughout my life, Christmas Eve has been my favorite day of the year.
As an Italian-American, we have always celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ on the Eve of Christmas with a celebration that included lots of seafood, no meat and the exchange and opening of our gifts after midnight. Before my kids were born, in my adult years, we also went to midnight mass, which is one of the most beautiful celebrations!
Tonight we will be going to my sister’s house, where she will be having upwards of 17 people for dinner and festivities. Typically, we women congregate in the kitchen, cooking, preparing and laughing. I must say, my brother in law, Carlo is a big help in the kitchen on this holiday when it comes to preparing the seafood.
Our dinner is based on the Feast of the Seven Fishes, (Festa die setts pesci) which is a Southern Italian and Sicilian tradition, also known as The Vigil (La Vigilia). Some Italian-American families have been known to celebrate with nine, eleven or thirteen different seafood dishes. The celebration commemorates the wait, or the Vigilia de Natale, of rthe midnight birth of the baby Jesus.of
In my family, we typically will have clams, flounder, octopus, muscles, shrimp as well as cod, in a variety of preparations and dishes.
Now, believe it or not, I am not a lover of seafood. I know what you are saying “how can you be Italian and not love seafood?” Well, it’s shameful, I will admit, but trust me, I do not go hungry.
I will partake in the Linguine and Clam sauce (a red sauce for the Eve) as well as a number of vegetable dishes such as stuffed mushrooms, broccoli, salad and others. And this is all after the starters or antipasto which includes a variety of cheeses, meats, breads and olives.
This year, I’m in charge of bringing the salad. I’ll be making a special apple cider vinaigrette as well.
When the eating fest starts to wane, and everyone is on to coffee and dessert, we will usually get a visit from Old Saint Nick to deliver the presents. His visit is short, but, the kids feel very fortunate to be awake for his arrival rather than finding their gifts the next morning.
After another hour or so of opening gifts, we are approaching about 2AM. As a result, Christmas Day is more a recovering day than a full-blown celebration. However, there is never a shortage of food! - usually Lasagna and either a chicken dish or ham.
Getting through my day today will include some very last minute shopping, preparing the salad that I'm in charge of bringing tonight and helping Gianna finalize her Chocolate Christmas cake.
This will all occur after a very sad morning spent at our family friend Larry's funeral. Our dear friend passed on Monday quite suddenly and this usually happy week has been overshadowed by this tragedy. Christmas Eve will not be the same without him and his entire family this year, as it has been a tradition for him to make his annual visit for some cheer every year. RIP Larry.
I want to wish each one of you a very Merry Christmas Eve and hope you wake up tomorrow with your stockings filled to the rim!!
It's the Eve of Christmas!!
Greetings one and all,
After a quick run to pick up some freshly baked breads and a few other items that somehow didn't make it on my list for my marathon shopping day.
I'll be back in the kitchen to continue working on our Christmas Eve, and Christmas Dishes.
There will be 12 of us gathering around the table here tonight, and 15+ tomorrow.
Tonight we will be having Shrimp Family Style - both the vegan and non-vegan recipes will be made (served over Linguine) and with Garlic Bread, and chocolate cupcakes for dessert.
This is the entree that we have been having here at our house every Christmas Eve and keeping it easy and relaxed for the BIG CELEBRATION which is only hours away!!!
Christmas will consist of Bagels all-the-way for breakfast (another annual tradition).
Cookies and sweets throughout the day: Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pecan Cookies, Linzer Tarts (my all time favorite), Chocolate Mint Truffle Balls, and Butterscotch Haystacks.
There will also be a scrumptious Pumpkin Bread with cream cheese frosting, and a Glazed Meyer Lemon Poundcake.
For dinner we will feast on Calzones, Eggplant Parmesan, Manicotti, Sautéed Broccoli, and Bruchetta. The having Peanut Butter Cream Pies for Dessert (if we have any room left in our tummy's)!
Everything is of course being homemade from start to finish! And I can hardly wait to start eating!!!
Santa and the Reindeer don't arrive until each of the kiddies have fallen deep into their slumber.
And NOT A SINGLE GIFT is under the tree before his magical visit.
The children awake in the morning and come down to a grand display of presents that were each carefully placed there in the wee midnight hours.
It's the twinkle in their eyes and the excitement that they display which makes all of the hard work and severe lack of sleep all very well worth it!
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight..
Wishing you and your's a blessed holiday,