Christmas traditions

Updated: Jul 17

Who doesn’t love tradition over the holidays?

For us the holiday is about traditions that begin with tree trimming. Ours is a simple tree decorated with unique ornaments that we have acquired over 25+ years of travel. The tree becomes the focus of our living room from early December through the 12 days of Christmas. I am not allowed to break down the tree before the Epiphany (Three Kings’ Day).

always a live tree

Holiday music, a roaring fire, a sparkling bevvie and cheese fondue usually accompany our tree trimming. And with any luck there is an episode of the SNL Holiday Special saved on the DVR to watch afterwards.

fondue with three cheeses

The fondue is a tradition that goes back to Christmases of my youth – it wasn’t a proper holiday unless we had at least one cheese fondue as a family. When I went to college, my Mom sent me off with a number of family recipes that were handwritten on index cards, the fondue recipe among them.

recipe combines appenzeller, gruyere and emmental

One of my wife’s sisters celebrates her birthday on Christmas, so her family developed a tradition for Christmas morning focused on a birthday brunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon over toast, accompanied by Champagne. That is a tradition worth adopting, so we have done the same for decades!

best holiday tradition, ever!

Our eggs are based on a recipe that Gordon Ramsey featured on a holiday special we saw some years ago. The eggs are cracked directly into a saucepan full of butter, stirred until they break and folded until they are softly cooked, then taken off the heat and finished by stirring in heavy cream so they stop cooking and become silky smooth. This dish is unbelievably rich and decadent!

We continue to establish our own homegrown traditions for celebrating the holidays and a recently adopted staple is to make our own limoncello. I have nothing against egg nog or mulled wine, but our preference is for a rich digestif as an entrée or to conclude a holiday meal and limoncello ticks both boxes.

homemade limoncello to finish the holiday meal

This year we are experimenting with the methodology for homemade limoncello, which can have as its base either vodka or grain alcohol. We have done both, but never at the same time. Also, rather than peel a dozen lemons and soak them in the alcohol for four weeks, we are trying a formula I recently read about in which the fruit (I am using Meyer lemons) is suspended above the alcohol in cheesecloth, such that the peels are macerated by the vapors.

vodka versus grain alcohol - we will see which makes the smoother limoncello

After a month the lemons will be removed and a mixture of simple syrup and peel of three lemons added to each and then strained after 15 minutes. The finished product should have a yellow hue like that in the fluted bottle shown in the previous picture.

Happy Holidays!