Gumbo (Photo credit: rdpeyton)

The holidays never just happened in my family.  You could always tell there was time, love and effort spent planning, cooking and gathering everyone together.  Everyone was assigned their item off the menu to prepare: greens, macaroni n cheese, turkey, dressing, yams, green beans, roast, ambrosia salad, pound cake, peach cobbler, banana pudding, sweet potato pies, etc.  I could go on and on but I am sure by now you have a mental picture of what the Christmas dinner table would look like at my grandparents’ house.

Every year we would all gather for dinner at their house, aunts, uncles, cousins, God-parents and even family friends. We would eat, laugh and just enjoy everyone’s company.  My grandparents’ house wasn’t huge but we never worried about space.  We were excited to be around family and familiar faces.  We entertained ourselves by watching television or imitating someone from our church.  We would laugh until we were almost in tears, drowning out the adults as they discussed the Bible.  Can you imagine three generations in one house?  The tradition even continues now and a 4th generation is now included in the tradition.

Traditions were everything growing up.  Although we may have been gathering for a holiday, it reminded us of the importance of family.  I relocated over 5 years ago but that didn’t stop me from carrying some family traditions along.  With Christmas being such a big deal in my family, I was blessed to actually have my son on Christmas Day almost 11 years ago.  I haven’t lived it down to this day.  But from his birth, a tradition was established on Christmas Eve that has stuck.  I recall the eve of his birth and wanting some gumbo so bad.  And trust me; I always get what I want.  Well that Christmas Eve, my aunt saved the day and cooked up a pot of gumbo.  We ate gumbo and laughed that Eve until midnight, exchanging gifts (the one gift rule) and then going home.  It had to be three hours later, I had just gotten to sleep and I went into labor.   I didn’t totally ruin Christmas dinner, I just enhanced it.  I even got a plate post delivery.

We have been celebrating Christmas Eve with gumbo for the past 10 years, surrounded by family and friends.  My children expect it and Christmas Eve just wouldn’t be the same without it.  It is also a way to celebrate my son’s birthday aside from Christmas.  I am on the hunt now for some great crab sales. And in the spirit of tradition, we still open up a gift when midnight hits.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

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