I grew up in a small town with lots of relatives. My mom had 10 siblings, as did my dad. Only a couple of them had moved away, and all married and had children. Wherever I went it was likely I would run into someone I was related to...and if not, someone who would say...aren't you related to...
My mom's family would get together and party for any reason, or no reason. Rarely would we kids end up going home with our parents, sleeping over so we could continue our fun...cousins made for good friends. All of my mom's siblings were out-going, fun-loving, and loved to have a good time.
My dad's family was much more reserved. Most of our celebrations centered on the holidays, weddings, showers, or a special birthday. (Seeing as it was such a large family, there were lots of those,) The celebration I have chosen is one that was a tradition with my dad's family. They were French Canadian, my memere (grand-mother), only spoke French. Yes, we all were bi-lingual at an early age.
Reveillon is the celebration I have chosen to remember here. It is a french word meaning the eve of or the beginning. Traditionally it is celebrated after mid-night Mass. In our case we celebrated before Mass. A hall was rented, and we all met for a dinner of pork pies, a traditional French-Canadian dish. My grand-mother made them all, and it was the main course. The rest of the families brought salads, or desserts or drinks. (We still have pork pies for breakfast on Christmas mornings, using memere's recipe)
After we ate, memere had a gift for all her grand-children, which we opened. The party lasted til it was time to bring the smallest ones home and to bed, and the teenagers either had babysitting duty or had the privilege of attending midnight mass. We usually rotated who did what. Midnight mass was a huge celebration, and lasted til almost 1:30 in the morning.
I think of this now, and I think about my parents and aunts and uncles...and admire their devotion to this tradition.
Since after the Mass and everyone got driven to the right house, they still had to put stockings and presents out for Christmas morning...and probably, just a couple of hours later, wake up to the sound of.....Santa came, let's get up!
My mom's family had their celebration on Christmas afternoon, renting a large hall, with Santa making his last stop before returning to the North Pole for some well deserved rest.
Fun times to look back on, and also to wonder how my parents ever survived the holidays!