Christmas Traditions

Our children woke up this past Saturday with gleeful sighs of “it’s finally the day of the Christmas party!” It’s less than two weeks until Christmas, and other than the lack of snow, the Christmas spirit is in every corner of our home.

Being in the middle of three generations of family at the party reminded me not only of how much effort my parents put into family holidays while we were growing up, but through adult eyes I now see from a different lense just how precious these moments are for our children. Don’t you think that the appreciation of family moments takes on another understanding when you enter a new role in life?

My friend and former colleague has begun creating beautifully handcrafted wooden charcuterie boards. He sources each piece of wood with a scrutinizing eye, and carves each one in his workshop with a nod to the wood’s individuality. It’s so satisfying to pull out something beautiful that was made by someone you know, and to be able to share it with family and friends. (If you would like to purchase one of Rick’s boards, please email me at cawajashores@gmail.com.)

Being used to the expression “cheese boards” I was compelled to seek out the meaning of “charcuterie”, as they have become quite popular. “Charcuterie” is French in origin, and is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as ham, terrines, pâtés, and confit. Charcuterie was originally intended as a way to preserve meat before the advent of refrigeration. The French word for a person who prepares charcuterie is “charcutier”, loosely translated as “pork butcher”. Don’t be deceived, however, as modern charcuterie is not limited to pork.

The first to regulate the trade of charcuterie may have been the Romans. But, as a lover of French cuisine I admit to being happy to note that in 15th-century France local guilds regulated tradesmen in each city. The guilds that produced charcuterie were those of the ‘charcutiers’.

Needless to say, the children helped to prepare a beautiful table laden with flowers, Christmas treats, the charcuterie board, an assortment of cheeses, mandarin oranges, and mouth watering baklava brought by my lovely sister-in-law. I dressed the table with vintage glass ornaments, which adorned the tree when I was a young child: they’re too fragile now to rest in our Christmas tree, but they took pride of place on the festive table.

Our dogs always love a party, and they caught the spirit too. The evening rounded out comfortably with a visit from a good friend. In all, a very satisfying holiday “fête” was had. That night, the Christmas spirit tucked us all very cozily into bed.

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It seems to me that the most vivid memories from childhood Christmases are not the gifts that were opened, but the experiences that were had. I hope our children have beautiful memories to take with them throughout their various roles in life.

 

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