Friday, December 25, 2009

Memories of Christmas Eve

I was very lucky to have a childhood filled with love and privilege.  I never wanted for anything, had the best education that money could buy, and the full attention of both of my parents who supported me in everything I did.  I was spoiled by my grandparents and had plenty of wonderful extended family too.  In retrospect, I can say with all confidence that it was about as ideal as a childhood could be.

Christmas was just about the happiest time of the year for me, and also the day I looked to with the most anticipation.  There was the excitement of gifts, of course, and we never seemed to have enough room under our tree for all of the presents.  But I also remember big meals of delicious food - more than we could ever eat at one sitting.  We always had a ham, and a turkey, the traditional accompaniments like green bean casserole, candied yams, cornbread stuffing, fruit salad, pecan pie, cakes, cookies, homemade candy, and usually some Gumbo which we would eat as our appetizer!  The warmth of being in the kitchen was wonderful and there were plenty of good cooks in my family.  We usually ate all of that food for weeks on end, and still had a seemingly endless supply of leftovers.  It seemed very normal, but looking back, it was a true embarrassment of riches.

From the time I started piano lessons, I remember playing Christmas music for my family .  Each year, as I got a little better, my repertoire expanded. I loved to sit at the piano and play carols and especially The March of the Tin Soldiers, which I performed at Cortana Mall one year on stage!  My Aunt Carla, who has a beautiful soprano voice, would usually sing along while I played. On a few occasions, the entire family would join around the piano and sing out of the hymn book together - and that was just at home. Midnight Mass was also an amazing and beautiful experience. I remember getting goosebumps for the duration of the service every time there was music.  The choirs at my church prepared for months ahead to get ready for the big show.  The organist always put on a little bit of show and the children's choir, of which I was a member, performed every year too.  When I began playing the oboe and got too old for the children's choir, I played for Mass instead.  It was always a really special way for me to share my gift with everyone around me.  I felt so important to be a part of the most beautiful musical experience in my life up to that point in my own small way.

Obviously, there is a big place in my heart for all of the memories, like the time the fruit salad spilled over in the back of my Granny's car in transit.  We saved as much as we could and picked fuzz out of our food and teeth as we ruefully ate it at the holiday table.  Year after year, her fruit salad was jokingly, but lovingly, referred to as floorboard salad. There was also the time I sang a solo, Oh, Holy Night, in the fifth grade Christmas pageant.  I don't think my family will ever stop asking me if I sang "so-low" that they couldn't here me. My Poppop also used to joke that Mary, an imaginary joiner - sort of like Elijah at the Passover table, would be receiving all of the gifts that year. And there was always that second, third, or fourth cup of coffee after dinner to prolong the agony of waiting before we were allowed to open our gifts.  I could go on and on...

I want to share with you one last thing - a recipe that my mom makes on Christmas Day for breakfast.  It's something I brag about eating that people always drool over and is fabulously delicious and ridiculously simple.  I hope you will try it this holiday season and get as much enjoyment out of it as I did those many years of youth.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dot's Eggs Goldenrod

2 boiled eggs, separate yolk and whites
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons margarine, melted
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Creole seasoning, to taste
  1. Chop whites of eggs and set aside. Chop yolks and set aside.
  2. Make a white sauce with milk, flour, butter and seasonings and stir in chopped egg white.
  3. Pour sauce over toast and top with chopped yolks and parsley. Add paprika if desired.
Please share your favorite holiday recipes and memories with me below in a comment.  I look forward to hearing back from you.  And to my family: I wish I could be with you this year and I miss you very much!


  1. Beautiful. Thinking of you with much love today. Mary didn't show up, but there was the threat!

  2. Inspiring! Thought of you last night. Wishing you a Merry Christmas!