Christmas was my Aunt Margaret's favorite time of year.
Aunt Margaret was my mom's oldest sister, and the sibling that lived closest to us growing up. She spoiled us more than relatives (aside from grandparents) are supposed to - all the big, fun, expensive stuff of our childhood came from Aunt Margaret and Uncle Leon. My brothers' first Atari, and then the first Nintendo (back when they were not hand-held versions, and still needed an adult to hook up to the television). She used to take me back to school shopping and buy me an entire wardrobe for the rest of the year, and often it was clothes my mother would never have let me wear, had her older sister not purchased it for me.
She loved Christmas. For reasons still unknown to me, my family celebrates Christmas on the 24th, not on Christmas Day. Growing up, Christmas Eve was always a huge party, and by huge, I mean 30+ adults, and then children on top of that. Margaret always wrangled the adults and the food, which was usually potluck and plentiful. In an unusual (at least to me later in life) twist for a Chinese family, there was always a pinata.
We've been without my aunt for a few years now, and this season is always when I miss her most. While we try to keep up the big Christmas Eve party tradition, its not quite the same. We are no longer forced to sing, although now we're lucky if someone remembers to turn on some Christmas music. There's no pinata, although now that there are more kids, I'm starting to think maybe we should bring that tradition back. And now its those kids who ask during appetizers, "When can we do presents???"
Irish Barmbrack - [image: Irish barmbrack, a traditional Irish sweet bread with whiskey-soaked fruit and candied orange peel.] We've talked about the Great British Baking ...
2 days ago