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December 2007 Issue
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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Christmas is my favourite time of year. Bar none!!! Even now, that the kids are grown, it’s a special, family time; and although we do many things together as a family at other times of the year, nothing quite measures up to the feeling of Christmas.

It leads me to wonder what it is about this time of year that makes it so special and different. And really, it’s about a combination of things. It’s a chance to get together with family and friends that we may not see at other times of the year. A chance to forget, for a little while, the diets we’re on. It’s a chance to just enjoy each other in the simplest of ways. Maybe it’s because Christmas and Christmas presents are thought of as being “for children”, but it seems to bring out the child in all of us.

So I thought for this month, I’d bring back some of the things that my kids think of and look forward to when they think of Christmas.

All through their elementary and high school years, I would make huge batches of my eggnog, not only for family and friends to enjoy, but to deliver to the staff room at school on the last day before Christmas break. I’m not really sure anymore how that all got started, I just know it became something that was talked about with anticipation from one year to the next. I was asked for the recipe so often that I took to delivering the nog with printed out recipes attached!!! New staff would always be teased with “Just wait till you taste Mrs. T’s eggnog!”. And people who claimed to “hate the stuff!” were quickly converted.

Last year, just after we moved away from our small town to the big city, we made the final delivery of eggnog. Anthony, my youngest, had already been out of high school for a year at that point, but we’d heard that Mr. A, the custodian for many years at the elementary school, was retiring. He wouldn’t be back after the Christmas holidays. So we made a special trip back to Tottenham to deliver to him his own special batch. He was thrilled to see us and to receive his “gift”. It’s often the things that seem like little things that light up a person’s day the most.

I’ve posted my eggnog recipe a couple of times over the years. A quick search of the recipe archive will find it for you, but I’ve asked Ronda to link it as well. It’s not really hard to make, nor time consuming really. But the difference between a homemade nog and the stuff they sell in cartons, is like night and day. Try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Food over Christmas always seems to be the most traditional. As Italians, we still observe the custom of a seafood Christmas Eve dinner. And even though my kids are pretty much non-seafood fans, we manage to avoid meat, which is the point at the heart of the seafood feast. Mostly, they’ll have some kind of pasta and I always do up a platter of “frittura mista”, a selection of delicately floured and fried shrimp, squid, filets and scallops. It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without it.

Christmas Day is usually lazy and laid back. We sometimes will do Christmas Dinner, but we’ve also been known to have brunch after opening presents and put dinner off till the next day. Turkey and all the trimmings, sometimes even a ham. As often happens, the holidays have changed for us over the years, because of necessity. When my husband and I split up, so, inevitably, came the splitting of the holidays. But, since it’s always been about having as much time as possible with the people who are most important to me, it seemed no big deal to adjust when the meals and occasions happened, just so that they still happened.

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