Talking about Christmas Dinner

OK, I know Christmas was over a week ago but I’m just barely decompressing. I really feel the need to discuss Christmas Dinner. I think this one meal illustrates the differences between families and traditions more than anything else in a marriage.

Mister comes from a family where the big meal is on Christmas Eve. It’s also buffet-style with mountains of food including lots of appetizers and veggie trays. (Who wants celery at Christmas dinner???). There’s more than one kind of meat (usually ham and prime rib). It’s also a paper plate-affair since that’s easiest. There’s a smattering of store-bought food, too. It’s gotten smaller over the years as the grandkids have gotten older and the family is too big and widespread to have everyone all together. But the amount of food is still unbelievable. When the cousins were younger, we used to act out the nativity. But my kids are the youngest with all of the cousins being teenagers or in college (a few now have kids of their own. So strange!). Funny how teens are not so gung-ho about dressing up like sheep.

While I like the idea of not having to cook on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve is crunch time and I usually have 15 million things to do including finishing wrapping, doing stockings, cleaning up the mayhem to Christmas preparations, and trying to have some sort of meaningful Jesus-filled religious experience. It sounds so simple but I’m usually about one second away from a complete mental breakdown.

My family does a Christmas Day dinner. Which means I’m up and cooking as soon as presents are done. Unless it’s like this year when I didn’t really feel like cooking til about 3pm. Which meant we ate at 8. But we gorge on candy throughout the day so it was all fine. I did all of the cooking this year. My mom was in town but I think she was napping. Or maybe watching a movie. I don’t know.

Our family decided that ham and turkey are kind of bleh, so we eat our favorite meal: schnitzel with noodles. In case you didn’t know, Wienerschnitzel has nothing to do with hot dogs. It’s merely schnitzel from the city of Wien (which we call Vienna). My grandmother was raised there so she learned to make wienerschnitzel. She taught my mother who taught me. My mother claims that men make better schnitzel since they’re sloppier. But none of my sons are taking the bait and aren’t interested in learning about their culinary heritage.

Our family eats a sit down dinner featuring schntzel, spaetzle noodles (kind of like skinny dumplings) and spinach salad (my spinach salad is the best in the world. I know. So modest. But everyone asks me for the recipe. Everyone.) That’s it. No appetizers. No bread. We eat our simple meal on my granmother’s china and dig out the sterling silverware. I suppose it’s very old-fashioned. That’s probably why I like it. Our Christmas dinner is all about tradition. Oh yeah, then we have pie. Always delicious homemade pies. Usually apple. This year I made lemon truffle too because the kids adore it.

Mister is happy to eat it, although he moans and groans all Christmas Eve because I have nothing good to eat. Not only do I not make a big dinner, I don’t usually make any dinner. Sometimes we go out for Chinese food. Sometimes we bring home BBQ. One year we ate cereal (hey, I’m busy!).

We’re tolerant of the Christmas dinner differences. It’s taken us a while. At the beginning we always got angry when our families didn’t do things the “right way”. But now we’ve made more of our own traditions. All that really matters is that we’re together and that something tastes delicious.


| Filed under Christmas, Good Things, Yum

10 thoughts on “Talking about Christmas Dinner

  1. I miss hot dogs and marshmellows on the beach, which is from the Christmases of my youth. My in-laws do the holidays up big — Ham and four kinds of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie on Christmas Eve, then Roast Beast, Yorkshire pudding, and brussel sprouts on Chrsitmas Day. With Yule log for dessert. My sister-in-law and I have spent hours on the phone swearing about the yule log and how much we hate making it. (Fortunately my mother-in-law was here this year, and she made the thing).
    Your system sounds much more sane.

    1. Pork roast. Some grocery stores cut it really, really thin; some make it thicker and it has to be pounded out. Either way we eat so much of this stuff its not even funny.

  2. Isn’t that funny?? No one thinks about discussing THOSE differences while dating, haha. My family’s Christmas morning tradition was my dad making his awesome waffles, and serving it with the ham my dad got as a bonus at work. My parents moved it to Christmas dinner after we grew up. My husband’s family is alllll about a nice, sorta fancy better-than-Sunday dinner style meal. We’ve made it work tho. đŸ™‚

  3. the schnitzel looks soooo good. Do you cook it in a pan on the stove? whenever I try to make it, the first batch is pretty good and then the oil in the pan is either too hot or too cold or too burned for all the rest of the batches. also, people want to eat so much of it that I feel like it takes me hours to make it all. and there is so much oil popping everywhere that I have to wash down my whole stove and mop the floor. any tips would be helpful.

    1. Dear Ohio 12,
      Yes, the splatters are so prevalent, we make it out on the deck in a huge electric fry-pan. Set it right on 350 degrees, and it ought to do about 40 6-inch pieces without the oil giving any problem. Turn it with tongs at 2 minutes. If it’s really COLD outside on your Christmas day, make that 400 degrees. No lid.

  4. I can’t figure out why it is, but Mom is totally right about the men making better schnitzel. Theirs always turns out with the breading bubbley, and mine never has once. EVER. Even last year when I made my Father in law dip the schnitzel for me, and it was his first time in his life, it still turned out with bubbley breading. I can’t figure it out! (Since we always have a big dinner at the in-laws on Christmas day, we’ve started making it a tradition to have the mother and father-in-law to our house for Christmas Eve dinner and I make schnitzel and spaetzle. This year it snowed too hard for them to come, and we ended up getting take-out BBQ. It was awesome! You’re onto something.)

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