In our house growing up, food has always been associated with the holidays, especially Christmas! Unfortunately, I haven't found old pictures of any of the Christmas feasts....
The Christmas tree decorating on Christmas eve was always accompanied by Hot Cocoa (not from a mix!!!), along with cookies and popcorn. Christmas dinner has always been turkey and all the side dishes, and I
can still remember the turkey roaster on the counter, so the regular
oven could be stuffed with all the side dishes. As we moved all our lives due to Dad's military career, I never got to taste my grandfather August Fessia's Christmas polenta, but heard about it from my Mom. She never made it, so I assumed she hadn't watched or asked about how to make it.... One of my cousins who owns a restaurant does make it and has promised to send me the recipe.... Think I'll call and remind him!
Mom did made a bûche de Noël that was similar to one made in her household. The area in Italy where my grandfather came from borders on France, so the mixing of cultures was very apparent especially in foods! I got to help make the meringue mushrooms, and mine were always the weirdest looking ones!
With my children, we have always made "Jesus' Birthday Cake" on Christmas eve day... and left it on the coffee table overnight right beside the Nativity. It's simpler than a Yule Log cake, and the design and decorations have changed over the years as they have grown up. And it's one of the desserts on Christmas day at Jesus' birthday party aka Christmas Dinner.
Even when we spent Christmases in Texas at my mother-in-law's home, we always made the cake, but I don't know if the tradition has transferred into the aunts' and uncles' families yet!
Mom tended to make goodies as Christmas gifts for neighbors and friends, as that was an inexpensive way to give gifts. The gifts changed depending on the year, and where we were stationed.... I remember rum balls, cheese straws, and several different types of cookies, all placed in tins or boxes with pretty ribbons!
I have continued the tradition, at first making a pumpkin bread, and now making a Date-Walnut cookie from a recipe given to me by a friend in the DAR of german ancestry.... the neighbors all know to return the tins if they want cookies the next year!
Well my mouth is watering at the thought, so time to go dig out the bowls and mixer!