A Traditional Italian Family Christmas
When I was a child, Christmas was without a doubt the biggest event of the year. Even though I come from Switzerland and spent a good part of my life in this country, the influence of my Italian Grandmother, a Piedmont native, won over. Our Christmas celebrations, year after year, had a definite Italian shine to them.
First of all, there was none of this splitting the family at Christmas or gathering in different houses. The whole family met in my Grandmother's home for three days in a row. Extra tables and chairs were brought from our neighbouring houses, allowing everybody to sit and eat comfortably. The white table clothes and napkins came out of their cupboard, and the three long tables were prettily decorated. Numerous presents were carefully piled under the colourful Christmas tree so that the crib would not be disturbed. Us children had real trouble going to sleep the night before when our favourite day was so close.
On Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, serious action happened in the kitchen under my Grandma's orders. New recipes were tried every year on Christmas Eve, and I cannot recall one time when we thought one of the dishes was only average. The food was always delicious. We would start the festivities by some of the adults going to the early Christmas mass with the children, then come home and unwrap the presents while enjoying the aperitif. There was many a scream of delight as we discovered one of the toys we had so wished for. Once the excitement had died down a bit, it was time to eat and enjoy the warm family atmosphere. After the feast, the adults who had stayed home earlier would then go to the midnight mass, while the children collapsed into bed, exhausted.Continued on the next page