Tomorrow is not only Christmas Eve, it is also my husband's birthday.
Imagine spending your early years hearing this is your Christmas/Birthday gift, or realizing that someone else would always outshine you on your day.
For the first few years of our marriage I would try to find a restaurant that was open and book reservations well in advance. We would relax all day and then dress up and hit some swanky spot for dinner. When we had finally been married long enough for me to know that he wasn't going to run in terror, I took him to Christmas Eve with my Italian relatives.
I can tell you that attending a family event is like watching a Soprano's episode live and you can nod your head sagely and say 'sure it is', but really, honestly it is. After we left the house the first year he was silent in the car. I looked at him and asked if he was okay and he just looked at me and said, I didn't believe you when you told me but it IS like the Soprano's. Bless him, he now tells me every year that he would like to attend, he quietly enjoys the crazy yelling, the smooching relatives, the whole buzz of the event. Quite a bit different from his staid Brit upbringing.
The dinner is held at my cousin Fuzzy's house, Fuzzy, a nickname he received due to his resemblance to a famous golfer of the period when he was born is a criminal lawyer which can be a convenient family relation at times, at least for a few of the famiglia. Fuzzy has no idea how to use a kitchen, he is married to the very beautiful 'G' who is equally inept in the kitchen.
My cousin 'J', who is closest in age to me, we are nine days apart, is the head chef for this event. With my Aunt's help (my father's sister) he will make all of the dishes for a clan that hits 20 - 30 en masse. This is one event I get to attend and don't get to cook anything! I shall relay all the dishes served when I return, but the one I am pining for, the one that brings me back every year is the stuffed calamari. Strips of calamari are stuffed and closed with a toothpick and simmered in a marinara sauce for hours. Oh My It Is G-o-o-d.
There will be screaming and yelling, kids running around, wildly gesticulated storytelling, sporting events blaring loudly from the wide screen T.V. in the next room, singing, booze shall flow freely and my Boston accent shall come out in force. It is one of the few times I lapse into it. There will be seven fish dishes as is tradition, strong espresso, Sambuca and loads of Italian Cookies for dessert. I will make a Pithivier tomorrow to bring as my contribution and a nice bottle of Barolo for the hosts and I will soak myself in the waters of tradition for an evening.
I hope that your Christmas Eve is just as lively and just as lovely whatever you believe in.