A Christmas Dinner to Remember

December 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Design Space

One of my favorite Christmas Traditions is our midnight Turkey.  Yes,  I know it sounds crazy.  But when Christmas Day is coming to an end; when most people can barely tolerate another walnut, and are finally resting their heads, our table is being set for the first carving of a slow roast turkey.  Oh we had dinner.  There was Cardone soup (another tradition  – I don’t even know where this one comes from…), and lasagna, and lamb and  pork, breaded chicken skewers, then roast potatoes, glazed carrots, rapini, should I go on?  But NO turkey, not until midnight.

Photo Credit Country Living

Photo Credit Country Living

Truthfully, in the last two years we haven’t celebrated the midnight Turkey because  there is a new generation of very young children around, and it seems things get a little crazy before midnight. I am not sure how my parents did it with us. It seemed it didn’t matter whose home we were in or how late it was, we always managed to stay up and keep ourselves occupied until midnight. It was so exciting staying up late. Even more exciting was playing cards or bingo, and winning at least $5 dollars of my grandfathers change. I looked forward to this, so much so, that when December was nearing, I started gathering all loose change in a jar, so that I would be ready to play til the wee hours.

Photo Credit Canadian House and Home

Photo Credit Canadian House and Home

And while we sat waiting for the clock to strike twelve, we talked and laughed and sometimes even cried. There was always a story to be told. We ate prickly pears, clementines and fresh anice (finocchio), I remember this so clearly. My mother always running in to put more of something on the table. While others decided a nap or some TV time would probably be a better use of time. My brother would pull out a favorite movie from the archives and pop it into the VCR. (Remember those?) There was never enough room on the sofa so you would pick a spot on the floor, grab a pillow and watch, while chestnuts roasted in the fireplace.

Photo Credit Martha Stewart

Photo Credit Martha Stewart

There were some non believers. People who thought, “there is no way they are eating their turkey at midnight!” And every once in a while we were put to the test. Friends and family making their way home from their very own Christmas Day celebrations, stopping in at 11pm just to see if we were still up and waiting for the turkey to make an appearance. I remember the look on their faces when out she came onto the table, and she wasn’t alone. She brought stuffing and gravy, and all the leftover sides from a few hours earlier. And if the table looked a little light, it quickly filled up. With bread, cheese, olives and jars of pickled peppers, mushrooms and salad. And so we ate, again, until this time we really couldn’t move. And after we’ve said our goodbyes, Christmas is over.

Photo Credit Martha Stewart

Photo Credit Martha Stewart

So how did this tradition start you ask?  Well, way back when.. I guess before I was even born, someone hosted a Christmas Dinner at their home. And there was Cardone Soup, and lamb and pork, breaded chicken skewers, then roast potatoes, glazed carrots, rapini, should I go on?  But NO turkey, not until midnight… when they found it.

Hope you are having a wonderful Holiday

May you celebrate in old traditions and delight in making some new ones!

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11 Responses to “A Christmas Dinner to Remember”
  1. Thanks Vitania! This is a wonderful story… Will you be doing Midnight Turkey this year?

    I have a question… what are Cardone soup and rapini? I’m sure they are important parts of your Christmas Dinner, but I’ve never heard of them!

  2. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Oh my ~ funny how some traditions start. I always used to forget about the pie. Don’t think waiting up until midnight for pie is too worth it, so I’m glad my family reminds me every year to not forget the pie!

  3. Vitania says:

    Hi Karen,
    That is a great question.. Rapini is Broccoli Rabe.. the bitter leafier, cousin of broccoli. It is always served on Christmas Day. Most Italians serve it up with fried garlic. (I ate this last night…mmmm) Cardone – comes from the celery family, it looks like a giant celery, each stick is about 2ft high and 4in wide. There is an entire process of preparing it for soup, which is why my mother and father only have the strength to prepare it once a year. Only certain regions of Italy traditionally prepare this soup, I don’t know what the history of itis, but I am going to find out.

    Midnight turkey is still undecided…will let you know..:-)

  4. Vitania says:

    Kathy, I would stay up til midnight for pie, especially apple pie..:-) Mmmmm!! I am looking forward to what traditions my children will remember..:)

  5. This is a fascinating story from beginning to end, and so well written. It was wonderful to come on here this evening and read about your family tradition.

  6. Vitania says:

    Thank you so much Tina. So happy to see you here..:-)

  7. Hilary says:

    Hi Vitania .. I too wondered about Cardone soup – and had a feeling it was like an enlarged parsnip .. can’t find it on the net surprisingly, but did find the rapini .. sounds very nice.

    What an excellent way to have a tradition .. & I guess it’s warmer in Italy at Christmas time ..

    Lovely story – thanks –
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  8. Anne Maybus says:

    What a lovely story. I can just imagine what your Christmas is like. It reminds me of my childhood Christmases (except for the midnight turkey!) Thank you for sharing it with us. Merry Christmas.

  9. Vitania says:

    Hi there Hilary,
    I’ll post an update on the cardone soup shortly..:-) It is a tradition that we miss, we aren’t going to have it this year.. but hopefully next year. I think Italian Christmas’s are slightly warmer than here in Canada. I have never visited Italy during winter – but my cousins claim it’s “cold” and they own hats and scarves.. so it must be..:-)

    Thanks very much Anne – Merry Christmas to you as well !!

    and Merry Christmas to everyone!