By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
We celebrated Christmas Eve differently this year. In the past our family has traveled to my brother’s home, two-and-three-quarter hours south of ours. Once there, we all put the finish gift-wrapping, and then set off for Christmas Eve Mass. After a music-filled Mass, we return to my brother’s home for dinner. After we kiss our children a goodnight, we prepare the Christmas stockings. Now that these children are in their ‘20’s, we the older adults sneak around filling all the stockings.
This year I proposed that instead of spending it with my brother’s family, we celebrate with our Uncle Sam’s family. Uncle Sam, my late father’s brother, will turn 95 in January. This year I thought it would be memorable to celebrate with his family. We used to spend Christmas Eve with Uncle Sam’s family. This tradition endured for years during my youth. Yet family traditions evolve: Families add members, they lose members, and members move to other cities. Fortunately, my cousins welcomed celebrating together again.
We began at 10:00 a.m. on December 24 at Cousin Chrissy’s, where she hosted brunch. Playful holiday decorations filled each room of her jewel box of a house. The morning proved festive and filled with goodwill. Brunch began with Mimosas, followed by coffee with shots of Amaretto. Chrissy made several tantalizing baked egg casseroles [one with sausage, one without], a baked cinnamon confection, a tasty fresh fruit salad, and decorated Christmas tree and star cookies.
Later that evening we traveled across town to Cousin Marianne’s lovely home. Chrissy is her daughter, and both of them had gone to great lengths to host memorable Christmas Eve celebrations. At Marianne’s, there were tangy cheesy appetizers, pasta with hot peppers and anchovies [my personal favorite], another spaghetti dish with far less heat in both the red sauce and in the pasta, and meatballs. We had mixed drinks prior to dinner, wine with dinner, Grasshoppers after dinner, a cream pie, and white cake. Another delicious meal with family rounded out a joyous Christmas Eve. The best part though, was the conversation, the laughter, and happiness of simply being with my daughter, our Uncle Sam and cousins. In this way, we count our blessings instead of sheep.