“How many days in a row do we need to eat turkey, anyway?” my sister and I asked each other about twenty years ago. With both sides of the family living in the area, we’d gotten turkeyed out. It was time to birth a new tradition. Not that we went cold turkey on turkey! Just that we don’t need two or three full-spread dinners in one week.
We call it “Christmas Eve,” though since our families have grown up, it rarely lands on the 24th. It’s a high priority so it’s worth finding a day that works for everyone. This may be up to a week before Christmas, and definitely before New Year’s, depending on everyone’s work schedules and the ‘other’ side of their families.
Our family loves food and loves to experiment, so an hors d’oeuvres spread is perfect. A few recipes have stood the test of time, but there’s always room for something new.
We prep what we can in advance, but most is done that day, with five gals in the kitchen–thankfully my sister has a large one! The men help by running errands (can someone check if Safeway has fresh basil?) and playing with toddlers, who love nothing better than to knock down block towers as quickly as they can be built.
By late afternoon everything is on the table and we pause to admire the spread, thanking God for His blessings: for family and food certainly, but also for the gift of salvation through Jesus’ birth. We take loaded plates into the adjoining living room and delight in the scrumptious tidbits we’ve created together.
Then we pass out Christmas carol books and everyone chooses their favorite and decides which verses we should sing. We start with the youngest person’s favorite, with the moms more than willing to provide this information. Then we read the Christmas story. When my dad was alive, he always did the honors, but in the thirteen years since he’s been gone, we pass the privilege around to whomever wants to do it. After pondering Luke chapter 2, we have a family prayer time.
Then it’s time for gifts. We used to draw names but in recent years, the adults have decided we’re happy to pool funds for a charity donation. However, we do give presents to the kids, and it’s fun to watch their enjoyment!
The true gifts are time spent together enjoying delectable finger food, and honoring the birth of our Lord and Savior.
What’s a ‘new’ tradition in your family?