Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's December 23rd...

Is this morning of the eve of christmas eve? I wait all year for Christmas Eve. Yes, that’s right Christmas Eve. Christmas eve is filled with so much tradition in our family--almost more than Christmas day. A big family dinner is part of this tradition. My grandparents were Lutherans from Czechoslavakia and many of these traditions and recipes have been a part of the Czech-Lutheran tradition, literally, for hundreds of years. The dinner starts with the reading of the Christmas story from the book of Luke along with other scriptures and then after scripture we have family communion. In our communion we use a special large communion wafer (oplatki) that has the nativity imprinted on it. Then after scriptures, communion, and prayer—Dinner! The food we eat on Christmas eve has been in our family tradition for hundreds of years…and the main course is…haluska. Haluska is a homemade potato dumplings served with cottage cheese and small pieces of pork salt for flavor. Some people serve haluska with poppy seed. My sister Faith is the only one left in our family who likes poppy seed. For the rest of us the cottage cheese/pork salt version is the fav. We use the pork salt although the original recipe would not have, because they were fasting meat until midnight of Christmas eve in observance of Advent. Aside from the haluska we have sauerkraut and mushroom soup. Yes, you heard it right. In fact, yesterday I overnighted the imported European mushrooms to my two sisters in Ohio. Here in sunny Florida, a long ways from the place where this all began, I'm about to start soaking the imported European mushrooms today and will begin cooking the soup tonight. that's kinda my task. I start cooking early because the longer you cook sauerkraut the milder and sweeter it gets. i think i've gotten the recipe pretty close to my grandmothers--or at least how i remember it. Now here’s where things go sauer…along with the traditional Valo family foods we always have ham and baked beans… because the people who have married into the family need something to eat too. I must admit that our traditional food is probably an acquired taste but after all these years, it brings our family together. That’s what I love about holiday traditions. No matter where our life’s journey has taken us to, at least for a moment, it seems that tradition brings us back together. And for my sisters who I’ll not be with on Christmas Eve because of distance, maybe we’ll still draw near in heart, even for a moment, by celebrating these traditions wherever we are. Well, that’s our Christmas eve tradtion. Do you have one, If so, what’s yours?
Merry Christmas!

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