Yesterday I asked my mother what her family's traditional Christmas eve dinner was. She said Christmas eve was always a busy night of wrapping and preparing, so they would eat pull-apart parmesan bread with guacamole and ham at the coffee table. That sounded so simple and low-key! I think I'm going to try it next year.
On my father's side, they sit down at a long, gleaming wood table in the formal dining room to have oyster stew whether you like it or not. Dad has described the meal something like this: Chewy, indigestible globs resembling clumps of white snail flesh, bobbing in a gold-rimmed bowl of scalded milk. This meal was the torment, the suffering that made one truly worthy of the Christmas presents you would open on the morrow.
My own experience is the amended version of my father's. The gleaming table and gold-rimmed bowls remained, (we had dinner at his childhood home) but the act of swallowing the chewy masses of oyster flesh was now no longer compulsory, and the broth where the oysters lay in wait was a nourishing, creamy vegetable and potato substance.
What are your family traditions for Christmas eve dinner?