After the fanfare and drama of Thanksgiving dinner, we feel like Christmas and Hanukkah meals with the family can be slightly more relaxed affairs. At least in terms of the food! There are traditional dishes, to be sure, but we find there’s also a lot more room to play around. What will be on your holiday table this year?
My family takes a very non-traditional approach to Christmas. For one thing, we celebrate on Christmas Eve starting with a big family dinner and ending with The Opening of the Presents. (Stockings get saved for Christmas morning!) The dinner itself, while it might not look very traditional to most people, follows a very set routine in our family.
My dad wakes up before anyone else on Christmas Eve, takes out our biggest pot, and starts working on a batch of chili. Some years, he does regular chile con carne, other years he does a chile verde. One very memorable Christmas, he made a venison chili that so gamy that none of us could finish a bowl. But for always and ever, I will associate chili with Christmas.
When the rest of us get up, preparations for dinner rolls, macaroni and cheese, and salads get underway. And cookies. Always several kinds of cookies. Cookie preparations have actually been going on for several days at this point, and Christmas Eve is for finishing touches.
By the time we sit down to eat, we’ve all been working in the kitchen together for several hours. We’re hungry and happy and ready to dig in.
How does your family celebrate the holiday?