How I Know It’s Christmas Eve
Traditions. The ones I share with my family on Christmas Eve are as important to me as making sure that turkey on Thanksgiving Day is as juicy as can be, and my sons have special cakes on their birthdays. I don’t care what we eat for Christmas dinner, I generally make something different every year, but I insist on providing and preparing the same elements on the night before Christmas, even when we throw in some new ones like this year’s chocolate frogs and wassail.
Here are a few reasons my senses are swimming in the knowledge that it’s Christmas Eve, my favorite day of the year.
1. Dad’s chili is warming on the stove. I don’t have a recipe for it, but I make it the way he taught me when I was a teenager. He made it for the big Christmas Eve family gathering that was held at our house each year.
2. The mushrooms are stuffed and ready to go in the oven for Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms. Dad made these for Christmas Eve, too, and I must have them…and one to pop in my mouth Christmas morning, cold from the fridge.
3. My Oma’s fruitcake, the one she made several of every year to give as gifts, is sitting on the counter waiting to be dessert after Christmas dinner tomorrow afternoon. It’s a half recipe this year, but it still fills my heart with joy to see it waiting, decorated in the same way she did hers. After she passed away, I found four handwritten copies of instructions on how to make the cake in a bag of recipes I inherited from her. One for me, one for my sis, one for my brother, and one for my mother. I always wonder if she purposefully left them. When it’s sitting there with her candied pineapple and cherry “holly” toppings, it really feels like she has stopped by and delivered it to our home. I love that. Maybe I’ll share her recipe one day. It’s basically just a pound cake with candied cherries and pineapples, as well as pecans added, but so good with coffee or tea!
4. My godmother’s red velvet cake. Not her recipe, exactly, but as close to it as I can find. Another Christmas Eve tradition, but like the fruitcake, half a recipe this year. Quality not quantity.
5. The sugar cookies are rolled, cut, baked, and decorated. I started this tradition when I was a kid, maybe 10 or 12 years old, and I don’t think I’ve missed a single Christmas. Somehow they always get done.
5. There is a gingerbread house sitting on a side table in the kitchen emitting a heavenly aroma. Our stained glass windows didn’t work out, but our creation is still standing. That’s always a plus.
6. The folding serving stand that my mother always used on Christmas Eve is unfolded and filled with goodies. Naughty and nice chocolates, marzipan fruits, homemade truffles…
7. The presents are all wrapped and ready to be put under the tree to wait for eager faced, sleepy eyed kids to discover them around dawn. Well, hopefully later this year since we now have two teenagers.
8. All the doors on our boys’ advent calendars have been opened.
Soon, we will gather around the tree and exchange gifts from family members. Just a few to tide us over until morning. Merry Christmas!