Family, Food, Fellowship & Faith
Out of all of the holidays celebrated throughout the year, no holiday has more meaning and is more festive than Christmas. Whether here in the United States or around the globe, the birth of Christ is celebrated in so many different ways.
It seems that the preparation for this event starts earlier and earlier each year. Decorations, commercials, Christmas trees are in high gear, so each individual does not miss this event. Whether it is Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life or How the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Hollywood helps plan for this special day.
But for many individuals, this time of goodwill and merriment is not so merry and filled with many not-so-good experiences. While many of us will have a feast to remember, many only dream of having an abundant table to enjoy.
So, what is this time all about? What is the meaning of Christmas? And why do we only have one event to celebrate the magnitude of this time? Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, our Christmas was filled not only with presents we wished for, but it was a time to visit, for connection, to be with family and friends, to share stories, to enjoy those family recipes that only came out in December. In Cleveland for many years, snow covered the ground throughout the month, and we indeed had many white Christmases. But our parents made sure we learned the meaning of giving, generosity, and helping and ensuring that those in need enjoyed this day and time. To this day, I will never forget the lessons they taught us.
Traveling as a family to buy a Christmas tree was part of our preparation. We would often visit two to three places before deciding which one was honored to be part of our celebration. We often rode the bus to downtown Cleveland to meet my dad after work, where we then went to visit Santa Claus and have a family dinner. Then on Christmas Eve, we got dressed up and climbed into the car to visit all the aunts, uncles, and cousins. Each stop was filled with companionship, sharing stories of Christmases past, enjoying pasta, red sauce, sausage, and homemade Italian cookies. This happened four or five times that day until we could visit no more. Then it was home to bed to await the arrival of Santa. Christmas morning was amazing. Rising early and waking mom and dad, opening and playing with presents, and then to church was the routine. Later that day, we had a table full of Armenian and Italian dishes followed by visits from family and friends who joined us for dessert and coffee.
The Christmas celebration is anchored not only by family and friends but the feast that would be prepared and consumed. But what would a splendid table be without that perfect beverage pairing? Unlike Thanksgiving, where the centerpiece of the table is turkey, Christmas is different. Tables are blessed with everything from turkey and chicken to beef, veal, pork, game, fish, and in some cases, an array of vegetarian and vegan options. Many times, the table would have more than one entrée. It is a time when cultural dishes grace the table. But regardless of the main entrée, there is a beverage or two that compliments each dish. While most drinks could be served, wine is the beverage of choice to complement most items. With this in mind, below are some helpful hints about what wines pair with what foods.
Red: Fruity Beaujolais or Pinot Noir
White: Alsatian from France, A Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Sancerre
Red: medium-bodied red like Chianti or Merlot, Fruity Zinfandel
White: Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, a dry Riesling or a Chenin Blanc
Red: An Italian Chianti or a lighter Bordeaux
White: Italian Gavi or a rich Chardonnay
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Bordeaux, Zinfandel
Red: Italian Chianti or other full but fruity reds, Zinfandel, a Red Blend
White: Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc
Red: Pinot Noir, Light Italian Chianti
White: Sauvignon Blanc, Soave, Sancerre, Muscadet
Red: French Rhone, Italian Tuscan, Pinot Noir, Merlot Bordeaux
Red: Spanish Rioja, Cabernet Sauvignon, Italian Tuscan
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