So, let me explain...
Back in the day, our family's Christmas tradition was ... well, there's no other word for it other than insane. How my parents pulled it off, I will never, ever know. The weekend before Christmas, we'd go out into the woods (and as an adult, I now realize we were totally trespassing but as a child, it was just a family hike) and chop down a tree. The tree would sit in our garage in a bucket of water "thawing" and hydrating itself until Christmas Eve morning. Early, early Christmas Eve morning, my dad would get up and polish the brass and sharpen the knives. Why he chose to do this on Christmas Eve is a mystery, but he did. It was tradition.
Once Dad finished with the brass and the knives, it was tree time. We'd finally bring the tree into the house and my mom, sister and I would put the lights on while Dad sat in the rocker pointing out bare spots.
|photo courtesy of gameskinny.com|
After the tree was lit, (not decorated, just lit,) we'd get all dressed up and go to my grandparent's for a fancy Christmas dinner and the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas. Once that was done we'd go home, my sister and I would hang our stocking and pretend to sleep while Santa decorated our tree and set out the presents. Yes, Santa decorated our tree as well as put together the bikes and doll houses!
|photo courtesy of mentalfloss.com|
My poor parents! I remember multiple years waking up before the sun had even risen and being so excited because Mom was already up and in the bathroom brushing her teeth. (Little did my childish self realize she was in there brushing her teeth Before bed, not after waking up.) But Mom was a good sport and Dad was just as excited for Christmas morning as my sister and I so ... we'd all traipse downstairs and open presents.
After presents, we'd have a big, fancy breakfast (admittedly, anything beyond cold cereal was considered a fancy breakfast in our house) then get all dressed up again and go to my cousin's for an all afternoon open house buffet type of affair.
And after the cousin party, we'd come back home and Mom would throw her annual "Thank God it's Over!" party. And by party, I mean casual gathering. It was a 'come in your pajama's if you want & if you bother to wear shoes, kick them off at the door' type of thing. People would drift in and out all evening, until well after I'd gone to bed that night, and the food that was served was ham biscuits, Mom's Christmas Soup and what ever cakes, cookies and goodies my parents had received as gifts.
|photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk|
Mom always swore that the soup contents were simply frozen leftovers from throughout the year. And it sort of seemed like she might be telling the truth. It always contained ground beef, corn, peas, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and butter beans. It usually had a few chunks of roast beef, a little onion, and some years had tiny bits of broccoli and/or spinach chopped small enough not to be recognized. Mom would add a little bit of tomato sauce, a bouillon cube or two and enough water to turn the mix into soup. And she'd cook it for hours and hours and hours days in advance, until it had a Brunswick stew consistency, then freeze it to be reheated on Christmas night.
Gosh, I miss those childhood Christmases and my mom's Christmas soup. Mine just never tastes quite the same.