Christmas Eve Traditions

How did it get to be Dec. 24 so quickly?

Although many people’s Christmas Eve plans are currently in doubt do to the weather, hopefully many Christmas traditions will still go on unaffected — church services, family gatherings, preparations for Santa’s arrival.

When I was growing up, Christmas Eve usually entailed several Christmas services, depending on choir performances, with time between for a quick dinner and maybe the unwrapping of one gift. (Daddon always asserted, “It’s not Christmas YET!”)

For Daddon, the Christmas Eve meal was always oyster stew. None of the rest of us cared for it, but DotMom indulged his love of the oyster once a year by purchasing a carton of the slimy things. I will never forget one Christmas when DotMom came down with a nasty flu — I was probably in junior high or high school — and I was enlisted to concoct the stew so the oysters wouldn’t go to waste. The recipe she used was from the Betty Crocker cookbook, and I somehow managed to get it put together without gagging. Although my culinary taste buds have since expanded, I’m still not an oyster fan.

At some point in time, DotMom and I decided that if Daddon was going to dine on oyster stew, we would have wild rice soup, and that’s a tradition that I still carry on in my own home. The easy-to-put-together recipe I use was published at some point in DotMom’s Mixing & Musing column, but I’ve made it so many times that I know it off the top of my head. I make it earlier in the day and put it in the Crockpot to be consumed after Christmas Eve church. It’s rich, but worth the indulgence on Christmas Eve. I serve it with a salad and chunks of a hearty bread.

Wild Rice Soup

Chop half an onion and dice four slices bacon; cook in skillet over medium-high heat until bacon is crisp, watching carefully so the onion doesn’t burn. Drain and set aside.

In the Crockpot, combine 2 cans cream of potato soup and 2 soup cans full of milk. Add one 15-ounce can full-cooked wild rice (the Canoe brand is available locally or cook your own from raw rice) and the bacon-onion mixture. Cook on low for several hours; toward end of cooking time, add 8 ounces (or less, it can get too rich, believe it or not) shredded American or cheddar cheese.