It’s Christmas morning, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for me and Lucky the Cat. Not long after the sun rises, we’ll sit down together to open Christmas presents and enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the day. This is to say nothing about the food traditions that got us to Christmas morning in the first place here in the Tockstein house. After eight years of joining this marvelous family for Christmas, there are several things I just can’t miss out on anymore, or it doesn’t feel like Christmas.
First of them all is cookie decorating. As soon as we’re all able to sit down at the table together, we go to work decorating sugar cookies. This ritual in and of itself usually has its own traditions such as my brother-in-law’s ugly cookie. Can you guess which one that is in the slideshow? Eight years ago, I sat down to this ritual for the first time next to my then boyfriend, and I fell in love with it all.
There were laughs too, much like my sister-in-law’s hilarious Donald Trump cookie. Paul only made it better by adding a little sprinkle to an undisclosed location. I’m sure you’ll get the joke from the pictures.
They’ve done this together since time immemorial, which is to say I can’t put a year on it. I felt welcomed in a way that a girlfriend of less than six months probably shouldn’t be in a family. I was home then, and there wasn’t anything that could take that away from me at Christmas. The feeling only grew year to year, and now that we are married, there isn’t anywhere else we’d rather be for Christmas.
Then, there’s the brie bread. I didn’t get a picture of it Christmas Eve night because I was far too busy eating it, but it’s not Christmas around here without a hollowed out loaf of Italian bread, soaked in garlic butter, filled with chunks of brie, and baked to crusty perfection. It’s a common request from my husband when a bout of homesickness sets in, and I can’t blame him. It always tastes better coming out of my mother-in-law’s oven, and I even helped make it for the family this year.
It’s these little things in every family that make Christmas Christmas no matter the circumstances of earlier in the year. We’ve had a tough December, but that hasn’t stopped a single one of the people sleeping in this house this morning from finding joy in the holidays. We have each other, and isn’t that what the holiday is really about?
On my dad’s side of the family, we’d all get together for a white elephant exchange and a potluck so vast we had to take it out to my aunt’s garage. You could always expect my aunt’s mashed potatoes, my pumpkin cheesecakes. It was one of the few times of the year you could get most of us in the same room, and I’m missing that for the second time in my whole life this year.
What are your Christmas traditions? Did you do anything special, like build gingerbread men? We decorated gingerbread men this year at my current job, and it was a real change compared to Christmas in Iowa. We celebrated literally all week the week before Christmas.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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