We usually spend our Christmas eve, eating, eating, and more eating. There is so much eating, it is easy to forget about the gifts! My mother’s family is Italian American. The traditions are grand, the flavors are bold, and the voices are loud!
The Feast of the 7 Fishes is a traditional Christmas eve Italian meal we love. The food is special because we only eat this exact meal once a year. Fried calamari, scallops and bacon, baked stuffed shrimp, and of course my favorite Fettucina alla Buranella (the best pasta dish you will ever eat, trust me). But it is about more than just the food. It is about the togetherness of family, friends, and loved ones. The recipes in our family have been passed down for centuries. We watched our Nanny (grandmother) cook with such love and passion for the flavors and for each ingredient. Nanny passed down her beloved recipes to her five daughters, and they have passed the traditions on to each one of us. Cooking is one of our family’s favorite ways of connecting and communicating with each other, especially during the holiday season.
In the midst of all this preparing, cooking, and feasting, we find time to sit down together around the table and read one of our favorite Christmas stories, The Polar Express. The Polar Express, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, has been a traditional read in our family for as long as I can remember. The Polar Express will forever be my favorite Christmas story.
The Polar Express follows a young boy who used to love Christmas with all his heart. He gets older and starts to lose the spirit of Christmas and the belief in Santa Claus. On Christmas eve, he makes his way to his bedroom. He awakes to the roaring whistle of a train parked just outside. After much hesitation and a little convincing, he boards the train with many other boys and girls to the North Pole, of course.
Our whole family sits around and passes the book in a circle, giving each person the chance to read. I remember as a child I would always hope for the longest pages with the most words. To this day, we still read the Polar Express each and every Christmas. This way, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.
Kendra Phillip wishes you all a very Merry Christmas filled with holiday traditions, good eats, and plenty of Kendra Phillip gifts beneath the Christmas tree.