OK, I know Christmas was over a week ago but I’m just barely decompressing. I really feel the need to discuss Christmas Dinner. I think this one meal illustrates the differences between families and traditions more than anything else in a marriage.
Mister comes from a family where the big meal is on Christmas Eve. It’s also buffet-style with mountains of food including lots of appetizers and veggie trays. (Who wants celery at Christmas dinner???). There’s more than one kind of meat (usually ham and prime rib). It’s also a paper plate-affair since that’s easiest. There’s a smattering of store-bought food, too. It’s gotten smaller over the years as the grandkids have gotten older and the family is too big and widespread to have everyone all together. But the amount of food is still unbelievable. When the cousins were younger, we used to act out the nativity. But my kids are the youngest with all of the cousins being teenagers or in college (a few now have kids of their own. So strange!). Funny how teens are not so gung-ho about dressing up like sheep.
While I like the idea of not having to cook on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve is crunch time and I usually have 15 million things to do including finishing wrapping, doing stockings, cleaning up the mayhem to Christmas preparations, and trying to have some sort of meaningful Jesus-filled religious experience. It sounds so simple but I’m usually about one second away from a complete mental breakdown.
My family does a Christmas Day dinner. Which means I’m up and cooking as soon as presents are done. Unless it’s like this year when I didn’t really feel like cooking til about 3pm. Which meant we ate at 8. But we gorge on candy throughout the day so it was all fine. I did all of the cooking this year. My mom was in town but I think she was napping. Or maybe watching a movie. I don’t know.
Our family decided that ham and turkey are kind of bleh, so we eat our favorite meal: schnitzel with noodles. In case you didn’t know, Wienerschnitzel has nothing to do with hot dogs. It’s merely schnitzel from the city of Wien (which we call Vienna). My grandmother was raised there so she learned to make wienerschnitzel. She taught my mother who taught me. My mother claims that men make better schnitzel since they’re sloppier. But none of my sons are taking the bait and aren’t interested in learning about their culinary heritage.
Our family eats a sit down dinner featuring schntzel, spaetzle noodles (kind of like skinny dumplings) and spinach salad (my spinach salad is the best in the world. I know. So modest. But everyone asks me for the recipe. Everyone.) That’s it. No appetizers. No bread. We eat our simple meal on my granmother’s china and dig out the sterling silverware. I suppose it’s very old-fashioned. That’s probably why I like it. Our Christmas dinner is all about tradition. Oh yeah, then we have pie. Always delicious homemade pies. Usually apple. This year I made lemon truffle too because the kids adore it.
Mister is happy to eat it, although he moans and groans all Christmas Eve because I have nothing good to eat. Not only do I not make a big dinner, I don’t usually make any dinner. Sometimes we go out for Chinese food. Sometimes we bring home BBQ. One year we ate cereal (hey, I’m busy!).
We’re tolerant of the Christmas dinner differences. It’s taken us a while. At the beginning we always got angry when our families didn’t do things the “right way”. But now we’ve made more of our own traditions. All that really matters is that we’re together and that something tastes delicious.