November - December 2021 Holiday Issue of ViewOn Magazine

Page 28

beasties are suddenly overflowing with Christmas cheer and can’t get to their presents early enough. (Around the second week of December, negotiations begin for what time they’ll be allowed to wake us up on Christmas morning.) As a child, Christmas to me was soft and peaceful warmth. Truthfully, I can’t claim with a straight face that I didn’t care about the presents at all, but it was really the traditions that evolved within my family that genuinely made it magical. This is why I so spiritedly look forward to the wonder of Christmas every year and the seemingly universal increase of love it engenders. My favorite Christmas Eve tradition begins with my family eating steak fondue around our old kitchen table. A pot of hot oil rests on an old-fashioned fondue stand atop a lit can of Sterno. The smell of the oil wafts through the house, and I breathe it in with joyful anticipation. To this day, the smell of hot oil reminds me of Christmas. Inevitably, there is the annual battle to keep the Sterno lit, but we don’t mind too much as we skewer chunks of steak with long forks and set them to rest in the pot. I still love to recall the delicious sizzle of the meat, how I often burned my tongue because I couldn’t wait, and of course, discovering a sad, neglected piece of overcooked steak on a forgotten fork. When the meal is over, we reconvene in the softly lit living room, and in front of a popping, crackling fire in the fireplace, we listen to orchestral Christmas music from the Vienna Boys Choir and conductor/composer Mantovani on the ancient cassette tape deck. My feet rest on the hearth as I warm my toes, and my mom reads two classic short stories to us: Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Macdonald Alden and Gifts of the Magi by O. Henry. I listen as I watch the lights wink on the Christmas tree or gaze at the fickle dance of the flames in front of me. Traditions and family unite us. Every Christmas Eve, my dear friend’s Italian grandmother and aunts and uncles would come over to make homemade Christmas noodles together. This tradition begins as Grandma helps the granddaughters knead the dough until it shines, and then she helps them to roll it out and feed it through the hand-cranked noodle press again and again. Then they feed the flattened dough through the manual noodle maker that cuts it into the noodle shapes. Next, the noodles are spread out to dry overnight. Christmas Day, an enormous pot of salted water is set on the stove to boil in the warm, bright kitchen. Christmas music plays softly in the adjacent living room while the magnificent Christmas tree glows in a corner and the luscious scent of evergreen tickles the nose of anyone nearby. Eager little faces begin to hover as noodles make their way to the pot, and to avoid clumping, are gingerly dropped one by one into the scalding water. Shooed away from the kitchen, the younger children groan with joyful impatience, accepting that they must be content for now with only the incredible smell that fills the house. After the many batches are all cooked, the “noodle platter” is finally brought forth from its special place in the cupboard, piled high with steaming layers of noodles,


| VIEW ON MAGAZINE | Nov/Dec 2021

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