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#1: Christmas is next! Author: CaroleLocation: Valtellina - Near Lake Como PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 3:10 pm
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So the reuinions of Thanksgiving are now behind those who's tradition is to celbrate the survival of the American Dream, with the help of the native americans of the time...

Now we must/could/might turn to the next Christian Festival - that of Christmas (for those who celebrate it).


So how will YOU celebrate it?

Will you be with your family at home or travelling to spend it with others? What will your Christmas table hold? Traditional fare for where you live or from where your roots are?

How about the kids and your partners? Do you (like many) tend to 'overspend' on their gifts, or do you agree beforehand on a figure and stick to it?

And traditions? What are yours? Stockings by the fire. Father Christmas or Baby Jesus? Maybe a Christmas tree with lights etc.? Christmas pudding (yuk...) or what? Mince pies or another traditional sweetmeat? What do you drink - wine, champagne, prosecco, spumante..tea, cofee, water?

There must be a zillion variations on how we spend this festival - how much nicer if we can understand and not deride our differences (if there are any!)

Share yours with us here...


Last edited by Carole on Thu Nov 29, 2007 4:11 am; edited 1 time in total

#2: Re: Christmas is next! Author: EmmyLocation: Scotland PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 7:56 pm
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Christmas Long Ago:
Christmas Eve was a busy day preparing all the goodies for that evening and for Christmas day!- Making Crispel, Pizza Dolce (filled with vanilla and chocolate cream and the sponge soaked in Rum and Vermouth! Yummy!!)trifle too. (A mixture of Scottish and Italian)home made spaghetti, stuffed peppers etc etc etc you name it was there.
We all went to midnight Mass and when we came home we had spaghetti and salad it was then we opened our presents and had a good laugh and a sing song too. It was usually about 4 am when we got to bed.
Christmas day was really special everyone was there for the meal which lasted nearly all day. The table was never cleared of food and snacks were there for the taking. When it was time for everyone to go home each family went home with a 'goodie bag'. Lots of good happy memories with photographs too.

Past few Christmas' I've only made the crispel and because all the family cant be together now because where they live, I go to my daughter's for my Christmas dinner, and there's still the fun with the joke presents etc but nothing like what it was all those years ago, when everyone was there and the children were young.

This Christmas will be extra special for me - Santa Clause is giving me a 'new knee' and he will have to deliver it a day or two before Christmas, and I think I'll will probably be having a 'wonderful?!? Christmas dinner - not at my daughter's, but with some other people whom Santa has been good to too with all the 'spare parts' he's delivered early. So this Christmas there will be no crispel etc until I get home - then I'll make up for all I've missed at Christmas in the New Year Celebrations.

So all you folks out there who have young families, Mums and Dads and Grandparents whom you can share Christmas with try to forget about all your worries and enjoy yourselves - dont forget, memories will last forever.

Emmy

#3: Re: Christmas is next! Author: CaroleLocation: Valtellina - Near Lake Como PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 8:12 pm
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Wonderful, wonderful memories Emmy... thank you kiss

But why don't you make a batch of your Crispel before you go into hospital and share it with your new found Christmas friends and the nursing staff - I bet they would all appreciate such a thing!

#4: Re: Christmas is next! Author: EmmyLocation: Scotland PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 8:45 pm
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Carole I had thought of doing that but -- and its a BIG BUT I really dont know it I would be able to stand that long - making the pasta then cutting, tying and frying them - (knee is really 'giving me gip' at the moment) If I start to do it I'd have to make 4 'boxes' 1 for each of the families here and 1 for the hospital. Last year I went out and bought 4 large plastic containers with lids (the ones that you buy to put the childrens toys in) and I filled each one with crispel. How I wished I had a magic wand!!
Emmy

#5: Re: Christmas is next! Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 1:40 pm
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Hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving. I spent mine at my daughters..with my entire family, which includes my 13 grandkids. I used to have thanksgiving here..but, we outgrew my house. I still pay for everything..but, we have it at my daughters.

I am now in powershopping mode. And believe me..I have a lot to buy.

A tip..to you new grandparents..be very careful how much you buy.

Why?

My oldest grandchild is 16. When she was born..we wanted to give her the world. For bdays and xmas..we would buy 8 outfits and 2 toys. (sometimes more). Baby clothes are inexpensive and so are their toys. Before you knew it..we had two..then three grandkids. We still bought the same amount.

When my girls were teens, I began making these small gift bags, full of dollarstore items. When my son met his wife, I began making one for her too...and of course, I did this for the grandchildren.

Now, I ask ya..who the heck would have thought this grandkid total would get to 13? I only have 3 kids.

As the number started to rise..I couldnt cut back..how can you now decrease what you always bought, and gyp the new kids?

Long story short? 13 kids x 10 gift each and 13 shopping bags + 3 for the moms..and all of this doesnt include the generous cash gift I give each of my kids (as a couple) plus one gift each for them to open.

Can you say powershop?

I am about half done...and its all worth it on xmas eve, when everyone opens their gifts together. You havent lived until you have seen 13 kids tear into all of these gifts. I absolutely love it..lol

We seem to have a new tradition. For the past two years, on xmas eve..someone would give me a little box. In it..was some kind of small gift..announcing a new baby coming.

I told them already..if I see any little boxes with my name on it, this year..I aint opening it..so whatever they get me had better come in a BIG box..lol

#6: Re: Christmas is next! Author: BillieDeKidLocation: Illinois PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:54 pm
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A little about my Christmas. We'll be putting our tree up in two weeks and it's a family affair! I actually thought as my kids grew older that the interest would be lost.........not so. My daughter turns 23 two weeks before Christmas and my son turns 21 two weeks after and they're both very enthusiastic about decorating the tree. The day we decorate the tree I usually make italian beef (shredded) for hot beef sandwiches and dips, relish trays etc. for munching. I make sure we have plenty of LIQUID refreshments too. It makes for a fun evening. The entire family also starts making and decorating Christmas cookies to give to neighbors, friends and ourselves of course!

The day before Christmas Eve I start preparing food for the next two days. Christmas Eve we attend midnight mass. My son and I at the catholic church and my husband and daughter at the luthern church (this is a story in itself - I'll tell it some other time). We come home from mass and have spaghetti and meatballs then off to bed. We still get up early on Christmas to open presents and I still love the look on my kids faces when they get something unexpected. I always get them each a funny gift (sort of gag gift), they always ask which package and save it for their final gift to open. We usually make hot chocolate (with a little peppermint schnapps) to drink while we figure out how to use the gifts we were given! The kids are in charge of disposing of the paper and my husband and I start cooking for the days meal. The past 4 to 5 years he has taken to making a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken!!!! It's actually pretty good and my son loves it. I make all the italian dishes my mom always made - spaghetti and meatballs, stuffed manicotti and stuffed peppers. All the sides to go with the birds - mashed potatoes, squash, rutabaca, dressing and gravy. We have any neighbors without family or no where to go and friends that can't make it to their families at our home to enjoy the day. So early on I put out a spread of appetizers for all to enjoy and after all is said and done (rest period) we have deserts. It's a fabulous day. Everyone usually falls asleep and then it's round two, every man for himself with leftovers and we play cards until the late hours. It's such a great day and I'm so thankful I get to spend it wih my family and friends. I'm already looking forward to it.

#7: Re: Christmas is next! Author: EmmyLocation: Scotland PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:19 pm
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Eleven, I know what you mean, once you start a 'habit' you cant and really dont want to stop.
About getting that surprise box for Christmas? Have you thought about the consequences if you wish for a 'big' box instead of the little one? A big box could perhaps mean twins, triplets or quads!!! Shocked Smile and I bet if it did you would still be thrilled to bits!!
Emmy

Elizabeth your Christmas sounds like what our used to be like. Hope you all have a wonderful time.
Emmy

#8: Re: Christmas is next! Author: Gina501Location: Houston, Texas PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:40 pm
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All your Christmases sound wonderful! Especially yours Emmy....it made me wish I was there, curled up by the fire.

Hey Elizabeth...I know exactly what that is - it's called a turduckin! I just heard about it for the first time this weekend. How funny!

Our Christmases used to be full of family and friends and food. But since we moved here to Texas two years ago it's now very quiet. In 2005 it was just my husband and myself and the dog. We spent Christmas day at the beach - it was 80 degrees. That night we went to Denny's as it was the only thing open. Yes, it was pretty sad but the warm weather kept me from missing New York too much. Last year my parents had moved to Texas also, so we were together. We had some friends join us, but they have moved to North Carolina. I think it will be just the four of us this year. I don't really mind the quiet because four days later on the 29th, we have our annual holiday party. There will be 80 people at our house for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres (or however it's spelled).

#9: Re: Christmas is next! Author: BillieDeKidLocation: Illinois PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:21 pm
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I'm sure you're going to have a great time Gina, enjoy your parents all you can! Yes........turduckin........that's what it's called, couldn't think of it this morning.

#10: Re: Christmas is next! Author: CaroleLocation: Valtellina - Near Lake Como PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:38 am
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For me this year will be my first Christmas Day (since I moved in) where we will be cooking and eating lunch in my house. I moved in on May Day 2005 and that Christmas/New Year my son couldn't visit from England and my niece and her family from Milan decided that they wanted me to go to them and not the other way around. Then in 2006 my son and his partner did come over for three days and he didn't want me to spend the short time we had together 'slaving over a hot stove in the kitchen' for hours - so we went >HERE< for our lunch.

This is something fairly new for many parts of Italy....but letting others do the cooking is becoming more popular these days. But if you are at home then Christmas really satrts the evening before with the Cena della Vigilia di Natale. This usually comprises of a variety of dishes but is often based on seven varieties of fish or shellfish. It is usually a large family gathering and we sit down at about 9.30pm. The children are all excited about the arrival of Gesu Bambino (but these days Babbo Natale seems to be working his way into the Italian traditions too). At midnight in my family circle many will go to mass and once they return the children are told that Gesu Bambino (or Babbo Natale) has arrived and they are given their presents. The grown ups continue with their 'party/supper' and before long the children have (usually) all fallen asleep and are tucked up for a sleep 'til it's time to go home.... Of course they then 'sleep in', and so do the parents, on Christmas morning (that part I always enjoy). No little ones waking you up with screams of "He's arrived!" at maybe four o'clock in the morning! Rolling Eyes

Then of course there's the Christmas lunch - which is usually served about 3pm... that will normally follow this pattern:
* Antipasto:
Cold sliced ham, salami, bresaula. Vitello tonnato, insalata russa, sotto aceti etc.
* Pasta:
Usually ravioli in broth or with tomato or rag├╣ sauce.
* Fish Course:
Often fresh salmon (not smoked) or maybe pesce persico (bass)
or branzino.(sea bass).
* Meat course:
Roast capone (capon), faraone (guinea fowl) and maybe some bolied hen (gallina) that has been used for chicken stock. Plus plenty of tiny cubes of roast potatoes with rosemary and a mixed salad.

* Cheese selection:
Often parmesan served with pears or grapes.
* Sweet/dolce:
Pannetone, Pan D'oro or Panforte di Siena

All of these dishes are of course accompanied by a variety of wines, ending up with either spumante or prosecco.

And FINALLY..... a nice espresso coffee or 'caffe coretto (with a liqueur added!!!)

By now it could be 7.00/7.30 and any thought of supper has disappeared. But some may look for a bowl of broth about 10 or 11pm - just to settle their tummy's....

So there you have it... a fairly normal 'family' Christmas here in northern Italy.


The Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square

#11: Re: Christmas is next! Author: Cathy PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:47 am
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I get sad at Christmas. My family remains very close but all my cousins aunts and uncles have moved across the U.S. I miss them and Christmas gatherings of the past. We had fabulous Christmases together. On Christmas Eve my Aunts, Uncles and cousins would all meet at one of our houses. Every year they took turns hosting the Christmas Eve festivities. Generally the day would begin at 1 pm. Everyone would arive with bags and bags full of presents and everone would bring food.
There would be shrimp, pasta with calamari, lasagna or baked mostacholi, several other fish dishes, 5 or 6 vegatable dishes, mashed potatoes (for my uncle), sweet potatoes made 2 different ways, fruits, nuts, figs, roasted chestnuts, and at least 10 different desserts along with an assortment of Italian cookies. We would "begin" dinner around 2 pm and after dinner (finally!) us kids would get to open all our presents. Later on the food would get warmed up and round 2 would begin. There was always music too. Many of my uncles and my dad played instruments.
On Christmas we went to my great aunts house and began all over again. This time with my great aunt, and her 9 kids and their kids along with my aunts, uncles and cousins. But we would just go for "coffee". "coffee" consisted of leftovers of their Christmas meal (turkey, some form of pasta, etc.) and tons of pastries, cookies, pies and other desserts. Then then men would go in one room and play a very loud game of pinnocle with their cigars and the ladies would play poker. Lots of fun.

#12: Re: Christmas is next! Author: EmmyLocation: Scotland PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:25 pm
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Memories like those never fade and even if they sometimes make us sad, perhaps because many of our much loved family are with us no more, they're still there with us in our hearts and our minds, and they'll never be forgotten.
Emmy

#13: Re: Christmas is next! Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:39 am
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Cathy, your childhood christmases remind me of mine. All of my mothers brothers played instruments so when they were around..so was the music. My mother could also play the mandolin..and sing..I can still hear her, in my mind..and many old songs remind me of her.

On Christmas eve..someone would dress as santa and give out presents. My mother and aunts all sewed, some did it for a living..so my mother made the santa outfit. The beard..was made from that old fashioned cotton, they sold..in the rolls (rather than cotton balls, which came later).

The only way they could get the mustache part of the beard on..was with chewed bubble gum. I will never forget the year, my uncle, who had a mustache of his own..had to shave it because they couldnt get the pink chewed double bubble gum off of his own mustache. I guess in those days..nobody discovered..peanut butter works well for that..lmao

We did the santa thing for my first grandchild. I bought a beautiful velvet suit. She was so scared of him..that i threw the suit into my attic and never let them do it again.

10 years later..out came the suit. By this time..I had 6 grandkids, the youngest was 2. I bought a brand new real looking beard with ben franklin eyeglasses...and my son in law, the two year olds father..became santa for her 2nd birthday, dec 2nd. The kid took one look..and said..dat not santa..dat daddy. lmao Imagine? 2 years old and she knew the father under all of that facial hair. We think it was the voice, that did him in.

You havent lived until you see more kids than you imagined you would ever have..tear into these presents. You just cant help get excited..no matter how old you are..by just watching them.

Oh..and who said a bigger box could mean twins or more?? We have twins already..lol And that was another thrill of a lifetime, for me.

I dont care..really..if they have more children..I couldnt imagine my life without just one of these kids..so I am sure we would be just as thrilled..no matter how many more we get.



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