The Christmas dinner menu at my house is always different. Every year. My father and I are decent home cooks who like to try new things. My mom is an amazing baker and the friends that join us each year aren’t afraid to try something special and new. But this year, I wanted to go back to my roots. I wanted to return to the Christmas meals I remember. Well, at least for one holiday meal. Christmas Eve.
Every Christmas eve, whether it was snowing and icy or sunny and not so cold, my parents and I would return to my dad’s home town of Turners Falls, Massachusetts. There we would gather at my aunt’s house with my cousins, my grandmother and all of her siblings and any other extended family that joined. My aunt and grandmother would make a buffet of Polish food – pierogis, kluski, kielbasa, pickled herring, etc. Santa would call me every night after dinner to make sure I was ready for his arrival. And after we had all eaten our hearts out and were tired, we drove home so I could awake to all of my goodies on Christmas morning. It was always fun. There was always lots of laughter and the obligatory trip to the Polish Catholic Church, where I didn’t understand half the mass. It was our holiday tradition.
But I grew up and moved away and got married and stopped going. However, my aunt got me the cookbook, from the Polish Catholic Church, so I could recreate any of the Polish dishes that I wanted, and then some. So this year, I’m going to. We are going to have pierogis and kielbasa (and some other stuff) for Christmas eve.
As for Christmas dinner, my dad and I are going to try a new dish. Standing rib roast. He’s smoked a turkey at home too so we’ll have back up if this doesn’t go well. And I’ll be testing out some variations on the tried and true side dishes. I love cooking with my dad. That’s our tradition now. And my mom bakes with my daughter. And my daughter is over the moon about it. My husband and son do quality control and sample here and there.
New traditions happen every day. It doesn’t mean that you have to forget about the old ones.