‘Tis the Season for Traditions
One tradition in my household for the last thirty years has been that my husband, Markus, takes over the kitchen to make a delicious Christmas Eve family dinner. I don’t know exactly how it began; I think it evolved back in the day when he cooked dinner while I took our kids to the children’s mass at church. We always came home in a circuitous route so we could see the neighborhood lights and sing carols—and give Daddy a few extra minutes to finish dinner. It has evolved to be the most eagerly anticipated, and elaborate tradition of the Christmas season for my children and me. Markus stays mum on the menu, but he does send us a questionnaire at Thanksgiving that asks all of us interesting questions to help him plot his festive feast. Often he chooses a country we’ll visit and make an ethnic meal (complete with decorations). I remember the stroganoff from Russia, the Hawaiian luau in front of the fire, Dim Sum from China, and a French Bistro meal complete with Père à Fouetter, “Father Whipping” in a kind of French piñata! To this day we occasionally find a gag gift under the tree from Pere a Fouetter! Any male visiting our house on Christmas Eve is recruited and dons an apron to help. While they cook, the women and children head off to Christmas Eve mass.
One funny thing though about time-honored family traditions is they often change over the years. As our children reached adulthood and now begin to create their own families, the evolution of our traditions continues. My son has helped his father with the holiday dinner preparations for years. In February, Zachary will accept his commission in the Marines, so we don’t know if he’ll be eating dinner with us next year. So this year he is planning the entire menu. In Chicago, my son-in-law is trying his hand at making dinners for Claire and Jack.
As I look forward to another year of Christmas family traditions, I hope that your personal faith and family rituals elicit fond memories and heartfelt sentiments that bind you closer to each other this holiday season and in the New Year to come.