And a merry Christmas Eve’s eve, to you! This is always one of my favorite nights of the holiday season, the anticipation of that first day of celebration. Because for me, & I suspect many of you out there, as well, Christmas Eve is when the traditions begin.
I wonder whether Christmas could even come if it weren’t rung in with the sound of crab legs cracking & oysters slurped the night before.
On the night before Christmas, the family gathers at my grandparents’ house to share a meal & a passel of presents. My father bakes oysters in butter while my mother toasts soft circles of bread into crisps. The grandparents steam up the snow crab, & my aunt never fails to supply the creamy, comforting shrimp bisque. As true Charlestonians do, we love to serve up the sea in our family, & Christmas Eve provides the perfect opportunity. It’s a lowcountry affair.
Before the evening comes to a close, the whir of the blender wafts from the kitchen to our seats by the fire & we know what is happening now: Grandfather is whipping together the cotton white & vanilla-tinged froth of an eggnog recipe passed down from his father, & perhaps even his father before. In holly-rimmed glasses, we’re each given our share & we toast to the day, the gift of a family’s love & the coming Christ––Christmas morn.