“The Feast of the Seven Fishes” is an Italian American tradition celebrated on Christmas Eve to commemorate the wait for the midnight birth of Jesus. Seven kinds of seafood are served, though you’ll often find many more than seven varieties on the table I sit at.

It has always been one of my favorite nights of the year because of the incredible food that is passed in front of me. There are baked mussels, steamed mussels, baked clams, minced clams, salt cod, crab and avocado salad, prawns in more forms than you can imagine, maybe some lobster, and some things that I’m forgetting. And there is this fried dough that is chewy and crispy at once.

And then there are fifty kinds of Christmas cookies that SHE effortlessly made all herself. They are works of art.

I am going to miss it this year because I’m in the snowy mountains of Utah. But I will be dreaming about it…

I’ll be dreaming about this fried shrimp for example…

Or shrimp tossed in garlic and parsley and oil…

The long table and the lovely people…

My godfather and Lois…

The lacy tablecloth…

The fried cod!

The fried calamari…

Cappi and Chip and the big bottles of wine…

And that spaghetti with olives and pine nuts…

And that tartar sauce, my favorite thing of all.

It’s all so fun, so very, very fun.

This is the famous fried dough/bread…

This is my pesky, wonderful brother.

My godfather, Aunty and John. Hi Guys!

And goodness gracious, these.

They are sticky and coated in honey and sprinkles. I don’t remember the proper name for them. I call them heaven.

Speaking of heaven, these have been dangling every year for as long as I can remember. I have always loved the hanging naked angels.

And this mantel.

And all of the cookies. The glorious cookies.

And meringues.

And figs and pine nuts among them.

This isn’t even half of them in case you were wondering. I think the Mexican wedding cookies are my favorite… the ones with the powdered sugar.

My brother dutifully serving coffee.

Michael dutifully serving tea. Hi Michael!

The wonderful Aunty. (If you look at the dedication of Food Heroes inside the cover, this is who I’m referring to).

Mama passing the meringues.

And the tea cups that she always has! There is such a collection.

That is because my godfather is masterful at finding things in his travels. Interesting things in interesting thrift stores. He brings back collections.

This was my favorite last year.

It’s fun to pick out your own tea cup at a party. Who needs a matching set anyway? That’s so boring.

Hi Sarah and Jake! Also brother and sister.

Oh how I love them and miss them.

And this is the hometown church where my brother and mom will be singing in the choir this evening with the amazing piano player Michael Shapiro. Remember him?

Every Pellegrini wedding, christening and funeral has been here.

And wreath making activities too.

I miss them all, but it’s always fun to create my own new traditions too.

Merry Christmas lovelies! What is your favorite Christmas tradition?