We eat pizza every Christmas Eve for at least the last five years. It's nothing special, we just call in a delivery or takeout order to the nearest pizza chain (last year it was Domino's), pitch in a couple bucks, and chow down when it arrives, presumably hot and steaming.
It's one of those strange Christmas traditions that began out of a random incident, but after a couple of years, morphed into a yearly occurrence that adds to the completeness of the holiday. Without it, I feel as if Santa has died or Rudolph's nose has fizzled - Christmas just isn't the same without pizza on Christmas Eve.
When I was younger, we visited my grandmother's house after Christmas Eve mass along with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Before my grandparents got older, we'd have shrimp gumbo and hang out together, the young kids anxiously discussing what we thought Santa might bring us under the tree.
But, as the years passed, and my grandparents were less mobile and less willing to sit over a hot stove, stirring a roux, the meal morphed into a depressing Subway sandwich tray and some random snacks like bean dip, tortilla chips and jarred queso. Although it wasn't as fun or authentic as the fare of years past, what mattered was the people and the spirit of the gathering - neither of which wavered.
After a few years of the bleak showing of store-bought Christmas Eve snacks, we ate our appetizer plates' worth of food and sat down to chat, but something was missing. An uncle, famous for his ravenous and unending appetite, declared that he was still hungry and the jar of queso just wasn't cutting it anymore. What's more, we all felt that way...
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In Groves, Texas, where my grandfather still lives, on Christmas Eve, there aren't many culinary options, so we called in a pizza, and thus, a tradition was born. It's not as romantic or fancy or even authentic as having a sit-down meal of fish cooked seven ways or having handmade tamales, but it's our tradition, and I hope we keep it for a very long time.