Growing up, we always had turkey and dressing for Christmas dinner. Turkey for Thanksgiving, turkey for Christmas.
Not only that, it was always the exact same menu: turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes with pineapple, ambrosia, cherry coke salad, peas and asparagus casserole. For dessert we had pecan pie and pumpkin pie with perhaps a another dessert added like chocolate pie. Yes, we were heavy on the pies! Is there another dessert? Oh wait, at Christmas we had Christmas cookies if there were any left by the time the 25th rolled around. (There were six kids.)
It was all foods I absolutely loved, or grew to love. I certain I didn’t love the asparagus when I was five. I do know I started eating it just for the buttered toast drenched in cream of mushroom soup that was on top!
It was the only time of year we had most of those dishes, but a bit repetitive. So when I finally got the chance to host my own Christmas, I decided I wanted to do something different for dinner. I’ve changed the menu every year since, but a beef roast is often featured.
This year I noticed that I’m not the only one doing different Christmas dinners! My brother also did a beef roast, my sister had shrimp newberg, and my aunt had a pork roast. Just when did the traditions start changing? How long had there been a tradition of turkey anyway?
My grandmother grew up on a West Texas sheep rank in the early 1900s where they used to have to run from Pancho Villa periodically. She said they always had turkey for both holidays. They would order the turkeys from Sears and Robuck and raise them in a pen all year in anticipation! It was a treat, even when they had it twice in a row, because it was such a change from cabrito (goat). Her own holiday dinners were also both turkey, as were my mom’s. So I wondered, why does the tradition change now? Why not one or two generations ago? My granmom’s theory is that there are just so many different recipe available now. When she started cooking she only had one cookbook. If it wasn’t in there and she didn’t already know how to make it, it didn’t get cooked.
What about you? What did you have for Christmas dinner? Is it different from what you had growing up?