During Christmastime, we had the strongest traditions. The celebrations started on Christmas Eve and continued for the whole next day. On Christmas Eve night, we would gather at Papa and Nana’s house. The house would be decked out from top to bottom. The outside lights were on, and Christmas decorations filled each and every room inside the house from the hallway when you walked in the front door.
When you walked in the door, you were hit with the smell of a pot of sauce on the stove. There would always be some sort of pasta dish in addition to the meat, veggies, and of course, bread. I remember a lot of times that we would have sausage and peppers for Christmas Eve dinner. I’ve been told recently that these traditions started long before I was around. When my dad was a kid, he remembers the sausage and pepper dish being served, and it was served after dinner was served because the family would hang out together all night. And I mean ALL night. The kids wouldn’t begin to open presents until midnight.
Now I thought that our tradition of waiting until 9:00 torture! We always got to open presents at 9:00 with the justification that it was midnight “back home” in Rochester, NY, where my parents grew up. And I think part of the reason was also because the adults got tired of listening to our begging and pleading. Once we got the okay from Nana, the sorting of the gifts began. This was a monumental task in itself. Then we would then each take turns opening our mounds and mounds of gifts (that were usually bigger than we were) starting with the youngest and working up in order of age.
There was always so much love and magic in the air at Christmastime, and these are memories I will cherish forever. Being further in distance away from family has made it particularly difficult to continue these traditions with my own children, but we are working on our own traditions. I’m curious… what are your favorite holiday traditions from your childhood? Comment below!
Sausage and Peppers
1 package of Italian sausage (sweet, hot or mild, your choice)
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
Brown the sausage in a frying pan on all sides. Toss the peppers and onion with a couple tablespoons olive oil and some salt and pepper, to taste. Place pepper mixture in a 13×9 baking dish and top with the browned sausage. Bake at 350 degrees for the sausage is cooked through and the peppers are tender, about 30-45 minutes. Stir a couple times to ensure even cooking. Serve with good French rolls and some sauce and mozzarella cheese to top, if desired.
Note: This is a fairly small recipe. If you’re serving a group, simply double or triple depending on the size and other dishes being served.