Non-Traditional Christmas Dinners
My family has always been huge. Everyone from both sides of the extended family would gather together and eat after exchanging presents. As the family grew even larger and some of the children married off the usual huge Christmas dinner got split into three different houses. Because it was so difficult to choose where to eat without hurting the feelings of one relative my husband and I have our own non-traditional Christmas dinner and go visit the families for a dessert.
~ Italian Festivalia
My grandparents are first generation Americans. Their families emigrated from Italy. Therefore, Italian food has always been a staple of my life. When my husband and I began our own Christmas tradition we decided to have the first year as an "Italian" holiday. Our menu consisted of baked lasagna, garlic bread, salad, calamari, pasta fajoul, and gelato for dessert. This was an amazing hit and friends still ask me if we have "heavenly" dinner for Christmas each year.
As I stated, each year we tried something a bit different. Though my husband has Italian roots, he was raised in Texas. The first time I visited his family in Texas I noticed that they lacked vegetables in most menus and had a LOT of meat. So, the second year of our marriage we had an "all American" dinner. Our menu consisted of Porterhouse steaks, lobster tails with drawn butter, baked potatoes, salad, and apple pie for dessert. I added the vegetables in to balance out the meal. It was exquisite and something that I won't soon forget. In fact, we often tease when we have steak and lobster that it is "early Christmas" because it is not something we can afford often.
~ Feliz Navidad
Finally, we decided we'd do a Christmas meal with Mexican music, themes, and food. This was especially fun as we saved Cinco de Mayo decorations and had a wonderful meal. This menu consisted of a grand taco salad, chimichangas, seven layer dip, "make your own burritos", and flan for dessert.
This started when we realized that many of my husband's single Navy friends could not go home for Christmas. So, we started opening our home for a Christmas Potluck dinner. We'd provide the main course (whatever meat we chose that year) and most of the trimmings. Our guests would bring drinks, side dishes, desserts, and small additions to the meal. I cannot explain how wonderful these dinners can be. From homemade macaroni and cheese to some cheesecake that I will never be able to make; this potluck swap has brought love, fun, happiness, and new experiences into our household.
These ideas may seem very different than the traditional turkey, roast beef, goose, or duck for Christmas. However, to me, they hold just as much meaning and have started new traditions at our house. We have invited single friends over for years as my husband is military. They always enjoy our twist on the traditional Christmas dinner.