|Screw the Balls...and other Christmas Traditions // New Journalist|
December 20, 2002
i didn't feel like rolling strufoli today. In fact, i just plain don't feel like making them at all. i'm sick and tired of rolling balls!!! Those peanut butter balls are addictively, melt-in-your mouth scrumptious, though, so i may have to buy more chocolate chips and make another batch of those.....
But as for strufoli...too much work! And although tomorrow is the Saturday before Christmas, and therefore my "traditional" baking day....i'd rather take myself to see "The Two Towers"....and screw the balls!!
Speaking of traditions.....My godmother's Christmas gift arrived today. Every Thanksgiving, she sends us pistachios, mixed nuts, and candy. Every Christmas she sends a gift as well. The last two years, it's been roosters. One year, a Rooster tea set (teapot, sugar, creamer). Last year, it was a matching salt and pepper shaker set and napkin holder. i have nothing against roosters...but neither am i particularly enamored of them. The tea set and salt and pepper shakers look nice displayed on my glass shelves in front of the kitchen window, though.
This year, she came up with something equally unusual. She sent us a Funnel Cake Kit! ("just like the county fair"). i don't think i've ever in my life had a funnel cake. Nor, for that matter, have i ever been to a county fair. (i did go to the State Fair back in 1976, but that's been my sole experience with fairs)
Anyway, i looked at this kit, and thought, "Wow...a new Christmas tradition in the making (literally!)" i'm thinking funnel cakes for Christmas morning breakfast (which, with a little luck will be served before noon! Our Christmas mornings seldom begin much before 11am lately).
It's not that H and i don't have Christmas traditions. We do have some. We always have shrimp scampi for dinner on Christmas Eve...a holdover from my Italian family who always had a huge seafood feast on Christmas Eve. i just scaled it down, and served a dish he liked. We also watch Midnight Mass from Rome. Believe it or not, it was H's idea our first Christmas together. Imagine a nice Jewish boy from Queens, watching the Pope!! But we do every year.
Our Christmas Eve traditions were set pretty early on in our marriage...it was always just the two of us. For one thing, one or the other or both of us usually had to work that day.
Creating Christmas DAY traditions has taken a bit more work. Oh, there was always the getting up and opening presents, but when we lived in Brooklyn, that was always done in a rush, so we could get the subway to the train, and get out to Long Island to my parents' for Christmas dinner.
Once we moved upstate, it was done in a rush so we could get over to Grandma and Grandpa's for Christmas Dinner.
It came as quite a shock to me the first year we didn't go to Grandma's for dinner. We went over Christmas Eve to my uncle and his wife's for their wedding anniversary/holiday open house. My grandparents were living there then. It was OK, but Christmas Day felt a bit like a let down. i dont't even remember what i made for dinner that day.
By the following Christmas, both Grandma and Grandpa were gone....and i felt very depressed that year. The pastor of our church invited us over, but i couldn't bring myself to celebrate that year. i don't think i sent out cards. i know i didn't put up a tree or decorate. i just didn't care.
As the years went by, (this will be our 8th without them) it got a little easier, but i always felt at a loss when it came to Christmas Day. i didn't have a "tradition" of making Christmas Dinner....at Mom's it was always Minestra, lasagna, and roast beef (she made the roast for H, so he'd have something he was familiar with that first year). Grandma always had ravioli or gnocchi (both homemade), with sauce and meat, followed by turkey (for Grandpa) and all the fixings.
i didn't want to make either of those menus. i "experimented"....one year it was lobster. One year it was veal scallopini. One year, i did veal for H, and lobster for myself. i even tried goose one year (never again!). But nothing felt quite "right". The Christmas pudding quickly became a tradition, though. And that was good.
Finally, a couple years ago, i suggested prime rib. FINALLY....we had our "traditional" Christmas Dinner....ok, it's only a 3 year old tradition, but it's working. Prime rib, Yorkshire Pudding, some sort of vegetable (i'm still flexible on that), and Christmas pudding. Followed by the annual viewing of "The Muppet Christmas Carol".
Now i can add funnel cakes for breakfast to the tradition. Christmas is complete. Life is good.
One of my oldest and dearest friends has just joined us here. His name is "Accidental Breathing", and his journal is titled "Just a Life". He's an incredibly talented writer, and one of the finest people i've ever met. i hope he doesn't mind my giving him a plug but he's definitely worth reading!