I’ve said before that Christmas was a really big deal in my family. Christmas Eve was a very big deal. My mother thought and said (many times), "Everyone should get dressed up at least once a year and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be Christmas Eve”. So, every Christmas Eve we were all dressed “to-the-nines”.
Dinner was the same every year – turkey, dressing, mashed sweet potatoes (with marshmallows on top), mashed white potatoes, green beans, giblet gravy, and little dinner rolls. Salads were unique (perhaps to my family) – spiced pear halves (that came out of the can a red color) with a “santa” face piped on with cream cheese. Then, dessert (which was absolutely unique to my family) – angel food cake with cooked 7-minute frosting and ambrosia. It seems to me, this particular dessert must have been aimed at the adults because (and even to this day) neither my sister, brother or I liked it. After dinner there was coffee in the living room.
This was never the sort of dinner with everyone bringing part of the dinner. No-no. Of course, my mother never did any of the cooking either – well she made the cake and ambrosia but that’s all. The rest was prepared by her maid/cook.
Every year there was always a full house with my grandmother, visiting aunts and uncles, friends, and/or an out-of-town visitor with no plans for the evening.
Eventually, I took over fixing dinner and there were some changes. Everyone brought something. My sister and Michael cooked latkes. And although there was still the angel food cake, there were other things like chocolate fudge pecan pie. Everyone still dressed up although there were fewer tuxedos and fancy dresses. There were still lots of people - our children, their friends, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and the odd person or two that had no place to go on Christmas Eve.