As the years passed, and cousins and siblings went their separate ways with their own families, my family carried on as many of the traditions as we could. But our fesitivities were always much smaller as we were generally living far from our Ohio homeland and unable to do much traveling. Funny how we always seemed to make the same amount of food, though, despite the fact that we had far fewer people to feed.
Now that my children are grown, our holidays are much simpler but just as delightful. This year, my eldest son and daughter-in-law and my grandson visited us on Christmas Eve. My grandson Drake's first Christmas--he is 8 months old.
What a joy to watch him, entranced as he was by the ribbons and bows and lights...more on that later.
We had our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve since we would all be together, the three of them, my husband, myself, and my youngest son who still lives with us. Same traditional foods, but I did manage to force myself to make just a little less than I had done in Christmases past. We had a wonderful time.
Christmas Day was uneventful for the most part; our youngest spent the day with his girlfriend's family, which left dh and I to fend for ourselves. With no big dinner to prepare for the first time -- ever -- we decided to go out to dinner with our dear friend Inez. I don't know about other parts of the country, but here in East Tennessee, NOTHING is open on Christmas Day. We had a choice between the local Chinese Restaurant and a Waffle House. We chose the Chinese Restaurant.
Do you remember the movie "A Christmas Story," made in 1983 with Darren McGavin? It takes place in a 1940's fictitious town in Indiana (filmed primarily in Cleveland) and centers around little Ralphie Parker's desperate attempts to convince his parents, his teachers, and even Santa, that the Red Ryder BB Gun would be the best Christmas present in the whole wide world. It's a wonderful movie filled with many of the wholesome traditions we all remember (but mine are from the 50's and 60's, not the 40's), shopping for a Christmas tree, standing in line to see Santa, presents under the tree, staying up late to put them together, and getting up early to take them apart, and most of all, Christmas dinner!
Unfortunately, those folks didn't get to eat their Christmas turkey because a pack of neighborhood dogs somehow got to it first, and as Ralphie explains in the movie, "The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!"
Our trip to the Chinese Restaurant, Peking Buffet, reminded me of the next scene where Mr. Parker packed the family off to their local China Palace for a Chinese Christmas Dinner. What is tradition, anyway, without family? The togetherness in the celebration was what made it special. As was ours. Our Chinese Buffet was excellent and we had a wonderful time of togetherness.