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I know, it’s only December 1st. But in our family we are already planning Christmas dinner. In fact, we are often planning Christmas dinner while enjoying our pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving meal (which this year was non-traditional as well – no turkey). This ‘non-traditional Christmas dinner’ is a tradition that started for my family years and years ago and like many family traditions, it is beloved.
I have two older brothers. To be exact I have one older brother and a step brother who is my age (just a few months older). Christmas for the three of us when we were kids was frankly somewhat tiring and grueling; 3-5 houses and Christmas parties on Christmas Day. By dinnertime the last thing we wanted to see was another plate full of ham and Au gratin potatoes. One year when my dad and stepmom were asking what the three of us wanted for Christmas dinner somebody shouted out “Pizza!”. That year, we all pitched in and made homemade pizzas. It was the best Christmas dinner ever.
We continued the homemade pizza tradition for some time. As adults, we decided one year to take a slightly different twist. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a themed meal based on ethnic food? We choose Mexican that year and everything from the meal to appetizers to drinks were all Mexican. The rest is history.
After Mexican came Greek. (Many in the family will argue that was the best year.) We’ve done Argentinian, traditional Italian (not just spaghetti and meatballs here people), Scandinavian, Indian, South African, Caribbean, and Cajun. Through those years my brother and sister in law moved to New Zealand. A year later, my dad and stepmom followed. I clearly remember that year, wondering who would share in our beloved Christmas tradition; it wouldn’t be the same with just our immediate family to enjoy the food. That year my heart and home was filled with friends to share in the culinary festivities. Some of those friends have come to love my family tradition as much as I do; they help choose the cuisine for that year, do their research, and bring a fabulous dish to contribute.
Every year the food is wonderful. Every year more friends and family join us on Christmas night and hear my story of how it all started. Every year our children learn about food from other parts of the world. And every year, this culinary Christmas tradition is the most important and cherished one in our household.
This year we’ve chosen Peruvian. I’ve already begun my research and inviting friends. I anticipate this year will be the biggest yet which brings a smile to my face. This is truly my absolute favorite part of Christmas – our Non Traditional Christmas Dinner.