I find myself remembering, with great fondness, Mom and Dad’s tradition of potato soup and oyster stew on Christmas Eve. We did this as early as I can remember; always after we got back from church.
The Christmas Eve service is the one where you can play with fire, even if you are a little kid. Because you ‘Pass the Peace of Christ’, you see. Each person gets a candle upon entering the sanctuary, which, at the end of the service, you tip towards the lighted candle to light your own wick. It is very important NOT to tip the LIGHTED candle. The person with the lighted candle holds the flame straight up, and the ‘new candle’ tips toward the flame. I loved this candle business because this was before the days of Boy Scouts where we were SUPPOSED to (reSPONSibly) play with fire. The wax that managed to drip onto my fingers, through the paper candle holder, was merely a bonus to peel off and inspect for fingerprints.
With the heady responsibility of fire stewardship successfully carried out for another year, we returned to our warm home with the promise of two different kinds of soup. Oyster crackers, all we could eat, made an appearance with Christmas Eve soup, too. Take a moment and remember dropping those round crackers into soup; then slowly dunking them for a swim. Although a simple meal, I now realize that potato soup takes quite a bit of work. Fresh potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces, are not instantly ready.
Oyster stew, even with canned oysters, also takes a lot of preparation. I dearly hope that I said ‘thank you’ to my mom for always having this traditional meal ready soon after our return from church. I have only eaten oyster stew on Christmas Eve at my parent’s house in the middle of Nebraska. I truly love the memory of this meal. I imagine it is made other places in the world, but I have not tried it.
Imagine for a moment, having the luxury of choice. Which pot will you fill your bowl with first?
Also, we got to open ONE present on Christmas Eve. Only one – so the torment of choice dominated my very being, WHICH ONE FOR NOW??? What if I missed the best one? Or more dire, what if I OPENED the best one on Christmas Eve – what would I do in the morning with no ‘good’ presents left?? Of course, it never came to that. And we never got “bad” presents. My over-active imagination at work, I guess. I still have a ‘delayed gratification’ mentality about many things, gift-opening specifically. If there was a way to NEVER open a gift, but still enjoy the feeling of having it to open, I would bottle that and sell it.
Gifts, of course, are for giving and opening, not for hoarding.
I do hope, this Eve, that you have a gift. I hope you have a warm home to share. I hope you have food to share. I hope that your traditions are still alive, and that you have loved ones to whom you can pass these traditions. Now that I am older, I realize how vital the message of Christmas Eve is; Jesus, on His way to save us from ourselves.
I wish blessings on you, your family, your tribe, and your efforts to bring light, peace, life, and love to this world.