Chinese Food on Christmas Eve…

Christmas Eve dinner is the time to break out old family favorites; recipes that smack of the nursery.

Comfort food.

We try to keep it as culinarily far removed as possible from the turkey and stuffing of Christmas & risotto of Boxing day.

Lasagne or meatballs are good hearty meals to start off the over-indulgent season,

Tamales were a ‘thing’ when I worked at Ticketmaster, whole families would get together and make dozens and dozens of the fragrant staple…

“If you’re making a few may as well make a boat load while the kitchen’s smothered in masa and corn husks,” a friend explained.

And, of course, the British favorite, fish and chips, usually eaten at the chippy or while sitting in a parked car overlooking the headland or carried home, smothered in vinegar and salt, tightly wrapped in paper.


Our household started a practice lots of years ago that does not harken back to any kind of personal cultural, tradition.

We eat Chinese food…

It all started one Nutcracker season when the final Sunday afternoon performance of that beloved ballet happened to fall on Christmas Eve.

We had struck the set, made it through the candle-lit Eve service without mis-hap (my daughters’ ringleted hair was stiff with three days worth of hairspray; a walking fire hazard) and were tired and hungry.

None of our favorite restaurants were open and as we were driving despondently around our neighborhood shopping strips, tummies growling and patience waning, we discovered a welcome-ly open Chinese.

“Yay!” we all chorused and piled into the red lanterned, tinkling musicked, mostly empty restaurant.

Never had egg-rolls, sweet and sour chicken or Hunan pork tasted so good!

Thus was born, along with the child savior, a tradition.

Each year we either buy ingredients to make our own, cheat with frozen goodies or get take-out.

Each year the children are more and more convinced that it has always been this way.  Although Hubs and I know better, we don’t complain.  One less meal to plan and shop for.

This year, after a particularly fragile run up to Christmas, we went to church.

The sanctuary was packed with young families who brought back fond memories of parenting excited young ones on this most anticipated evening.  We relaxed into the froth of childish chatter and joined their voices floating upwards on the notes of well-loved carols.

Then one little boy in front of me began to draw on his khaki trousers with a biro…

I tapped him on the shoulder and gave him a stern Mama-Bear-look!  Oops!

His parents smiled and removed the offending pen.

“Hairspray,” I whispered to Dad.

“Thanks,” he whispered back and we returned to our Hymnals giggling.

We sang Silent Night (this year marking its 200th anniversary) by candle-light and dropped into the event that changed the world more than two-thousand years ago.

Calmed we met Sam and Daughts at a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, maximum occupancy 15, for our traditional meal.

We took up one of the tables and ordered enough food to qualify for free appetizers.  Lots of them!

The portions were massive and served most elegantly on large, floral, paper plates filled to the brim.  Rice was served separately in styrofoam bowls and we ate until we were fit to burst.

“Quick, we have to take a photo for the record,” I said as we were leaving.

We looked around for our waitress but she was busy with phone orders.

“Give me the camera, ” said Daughts and she propped it against one of our to-go boxes.  We backed up until we all fit in the frame.


Silly us!

Keeping up tradition!

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