As far back as I can remember, Christmas Eve was always my favorite time of the year. The tradition in my family is to have a huge seafood focused dinner on Christmas Eve. The feast of the seven fish. As you probably have noticed by this point, most of my fondest memories revolve around food. Family and friends, gathered around the table, laughing, reminiscing, eating and drinking. Kids playing, dog barking, maybe a hockey or football game on the TV, or an actual “game” going down on the street outside. Everyone huddled in the kitchen, working diligently to prep and cook obscene amounts of delicious food. These are the times I look forward to the most, happiness in the simplest, purest form.
As a child, Christmas Eve dinner was more exciting than Christmas morning. I still count down the days. Planning and developing the menu for months. I fondly reminisce waiting by the door for my Dad to get home, to deliver massive amounts of the freshest seafood available. There would be live eel waiting patiently in the bathtub, lobster races across the kitchen floor, pounds and pounds of mussels, clams, shrimp being peeled. The scungilli salad marinating, developing the most amazing flavor and aroma. The pace was furious, and in the end, it all came together perfectly. We sat at the dining room table for hours. I remember hiding under the table, trying to escape the mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke (gotta love the 70’s & 80’s), but refusing to admit I was actually full. I would be chomping on some fried shrimp, or clams, maybe even a hunk of heavily buttered Italian bread, listening to my family laugh, argue, and just enjoying each others company. My Uncle would sneak my brother and I upstairs to Mom and Dad’s closet, full of presents, and tell us that Santa had come a bit early. We may have evened opened one or all of those beautifully wrapped boxes once or twice. Needless to say, Mom was none too pleased. The circle is almost complete, as our children are now putting us through some of the same strife we caused. It is quite amusing how shocked they are when I foil their elaborate plans before they can be put into action. Been there, done that…I can spot the devious signals miles away, well the majority of the time. So, now that I am grown, with a house and family of my own, and an awesome extra-large dining room table…it’s my turn to host Christmas eve.