A Different Kind of Christmas + Food Traditions

A Different Kind of Christmas…

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year and favorite holiday.  I love the festivities, the way that people are a little friendlier, I love the lights, shopping for gifts, the tree, Christmas songs, books, and movies.  As you can see, our cat, Abby loves it too 🙂

But this year will be different.  My Mom, Kathy, passed away last week, December 9th, and so Christmas will never be the same.  That doesn’t mean that Christmas can’t still be magical, wonderful, and filled with love, all of which my Mom always made it for us.  It just means that it will be a different kind of Christmas with a different kind of magic and wonder, but still much love.  As I write this, I can hear my 5-year-old, Alexa, downstairs getting ready for school singing Jingle Bells and I have tears running down my cheeks…it’s hard to believe this is real.

Our tradition since I can remember as a child, has always been to have a big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.  When I was a child, it was always at my Grandma’s house and the entire family would come over…Aunts, Uncles Cousins, about 14 of us at our max, all squeezed into this tiny little house and we would gather around the tree after dinner to exchange gifts.  I have such wonderful memories.

For the past several years, my parents (from Missouri) and Dave’s parents (from Maryland), and sometimes, my brother and his wife (from California) have come to visit us for Christmas, here in Hoboken, NJ.  Dave and I are the only ones in our families to have kids so far, which makes it “easier” for everyone to come here so that Santa doesn’t get confused 🙂 .  Here is our Christmas Eve Dinner last Christmas.  My Mom is in the upper right corner.  BTW, me, Dave, and the kids are repurposing our Ugly Sweaters from our Ugly Sweater-themed Christmas Party in these pics, this is not our stylish gear!  🙂

This year, we will carry on our traditions and remember my Mom.  She would not want us to stop enjoying ourselves..  No, she would want us to carry on what she started for us, going into the city as a group to see the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, to eat a ton of food, to open just 1 gift from under the tree on Christmas Eve, to put out cookies and milk for Santa (and carrots for his reindeer!), to read The Night Before Christmas to the girls before bed, to wake up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought during the night, and to take turns opening gifts so we can all enjoy seeing the joy on each other’s faces.  We will miss my Mom so much this year, but we will remember her in everything we do.  It will be different, but it will still be wonderful.

Now for the Food…

We are having a debate in my house this year.  I wanted to do a decadent Short Ribs and Creamy Polenta meal.  However, my husband has suggested the traditional turkey dinner with all of the trimmings since I was with my Mom in Missouri and not able to be with him and the girls this year on Thanksgiving in Maryland with his parents and sister.  The jury is still out on this one, but we are leaning toward turkey!

However…I really do recommend this SUPER EASY Short Ribs recipe with Creamy Parmesan Polenta.  Click for the Short Ribs Recipe.  Click here for the Creamy Parmesan Polenta Recipe.

As for other food, we usually have a light breakfast on Christmas Eve Morning of bread, hard boiled eggs, fruit, and cheese.  If we are lucky, my Mother-in-law, Etelvina, will bring frozen Pao de Queijo that we can bake up as well!!  During the day, our tradition is to graze on snacks and appetizers, including veggies & dip, cheese & crackers, and a few hot apps as well.

Christmas morning is usually this amazing traditional Nut Roll (I will get and post the recipe!!) that we grew up with and that my Mom would make and bring with her.  We also have Ham and honestly, the Nut Roll and the Ham was always just enough for my Mom.  I like to make an Egg and Cheese casserole as well.  It’s something that you can prepare in advance and cook the morning of and then people can help themselves, so really easy and stress-free.  The Nut Roll is great too because you can have a slice before or during opening presents while having your coffee to tide you over until breakfast.

Lunch/Early Dinner…if we have have a Turkey dinner the night before, its leftovers!  If not, then I try to do something easy, like a glazed Ham with Twice Baked Potato Casserole and other sides.  Or a Roast Beef is also a great option for Christmas Day Dinner.  The key is to make something super easy that you can roast in the oven and not worry too much about.

Ok, well, I think that covers my Christmas Food traditions.  I would love to hear about your food traditions, so please send me any comments or pictures!!!

Thanks and Happy Holiday!

Carrie, Talking Meals

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