I always felt spoilt as a kid as I was lucky to have two Christmases. First one was Christmas Eve with my Dad’s family, the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc. Then the wake up Christmas morning to see what Santa had planted under the tree at home and a traditional baked turkey dinner. Both were magical to me as a kid.
Christmas Eve was special. You would arrive at my great grandmother’s house and deposit the presents under the tree and as there were quite a few family members, ohhh wow was there a mountain. Nibbles and drinks went around as adults caught up with each other. The children, well we just analysed the pressies from a distance, while playing and helping the adults out where needed for getting the food on the table.
Before the time came to finally see what bounty awaited us, carols had to be sung. Okay, major intimidation time for me. My cousins both did dance and singing lessons so they were the adapted little performers. Moi on the other hand, closest I got to singing in front of an audience was my hair brush in front of my dressing table mirror or hymns at school assembly every morning (I went for many years to ATYP so I was great at smiling and miming). So mycousins would perform as expected and I would be pressured into joining them. Though I will admit when all the family were singing together it was a wonderful thing which I do cherish and if I close my eyes I can still hear the various voices of those departed and those still present.
After carols the kids got to distribute the presents to everyone else, then and only then, were we able to check out our loot. I think there was some enjoyment had by certain adults, watching us being tortured by making us have to wait for the presents for such a length of time.
It wasn’t just the presents that were bountiful, there was food, massive amounts of food. My great grandmother’s dining table would be groaning under the weight of the most glorious array of food. There would be pork schnitzel, dill stuffed eggs, herring, mushrooms (my grandmother’s speciality), chicken, salads, terrines, the list just went on and on. Then there would be a big dessert spread of cheesecakes, almond cakes and more. It was an incredible sight, the food was fantastic and traditional.
With a little sadness things have changed a great deal. My great grandmother and grandmother have both passed away as well as a few other family members. The cousins have grown up and we have gone a separate directions, so Christmas Eve does not exist in the form for me as it use to as a child and young adult.
Christmas Eve is still extremely special to me. These days it is celebrated at my Mum and Dad’s place and is just immediate family. It is funny how things change, on Christmas Eve it is now the traditional meal that we use to have on Christmas day as a family, and Christmas day is usually the big spread at my place or another family members’ on hubby’s side.
Mum prepares a lovely meal, there is an entree, usually Mum tries something new or goes for an old favourite. The Main meal is generally the same, turkey, roast potatoes, some other vege that tickles Mum’s fancy and the coveted red cabbage.
My Mum made a comment to Dad this year before I turned up, “Sara will walk straight to the stove, stir the red cabbage and taste it”. She was right, I did, until she mentioned it I did not realise I had my own little red cabbage tradition going!
2 rashers of bacon (finely diced)
1 large onion (finely diced)
1/4c brown sugar
1/4c white wine vinegar
1/8t powdered cloves
2 x 500g cans of red cabbage
1/2 cup red wine
1/4t caraway seeds
In a heavy based pot fry bacon over medium head until the fat runs. Add onions and cook until they have softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in remaining ingredients, except the caraway seeds, and cook covered for 30 minutes, giving it a stir now and then. Season to taste and add caraway seeds if desired – trust me it is desired
For nibbles with drinkies Mum made her bacon and egg tarts, guacamole served with corn chips as well as a red chilli dip.
Entree was a lovely prawn cocktail, served with a very moreish chilli cocktail sauce.
The carving of the turkey, and what an incredibly moist one it was. Orange, butter and other secret herbs and spices were placed under the skin to add to the flavour.
Thank you Mum for a wonderful Christmas Eve meal.