Christmas is just a few days away and as each day passes I think about my family more and more.  We will talk and laugh and thanks to technology, we will even be able to see each other.  Unfortunately we won’t be under the same roof.  We won’t even be in the same state.  My family will be together in Florida and I will be here in California wishing I could be there.  Every year I say “It’s fine that I couldn’t make it this year”, but not being there never gets easier.

I have spent some time this evening going through old photos and thinking about holidays and my family.  One thought that makes me smile is the memory of Christmas morning excitement as a child.  Running up and down the hall to sneak a peek at all the presents that Santa brought and pretending to be quiet while we’d keep watch out the window for the sun to start to pop through so we could officially wake up mom and dad. – Because they were so soundly asleep with three little kids running around the house giggling, whispering and playing with toys.  I have a very clear memory of running from my bedroom to the living room and then back down the hall to my parents room to whisper to them what Santa brought for me.  Then I’d run back to the living room for another peek and back to their room again to whisper something else.  I’m actually laughing as I write this. – Truth be told, I have never lost that excitement.  I still hope that Santa has filled my stocking when I wake up on Christmas morning.  🙂

IMG_20131120_0001I’m on the left.  I was 4, my little brother was about 6 months and my big sister was 7 – Ahhh the 70’s.

Another Christmas memory that makes me smile and miss my family is about eating shrimp for dinner on Christmas Eve.

My father was in the Air Force and we moved around a lot as I was growing up. In the summer of 1987, we moved to Ft. Walton Beach, Fl.  It was the summer I turned 17 and the summer before my senior year of High School.
I had lived in the south for most of my life but don’t remember this unofficial tradition beginning until sometime after this final military move.  This unofficial tradition was “Shrimp for dinner on Christmas Eve”.  I remember driving to a home that was down a little lane, driving past the house and to the garage.  We’d honk and an elderly woman would come out and sell us shrimp that they caught on their shrimp boat. (Later this changed to local markets)
Mom would boil the shrimp with just a bag of shrimp & crab boil tossed in the pot. She’d make a salad and we’d all pull up a bar stool and sit or stand around the kitchen counter bar, peeling and eating shrimp.   We always ate them warm and served with lemon & garlic butter and a little cocktail sauce.   This dinner was usually served on paper plates to make the clean up super easy.  We’d sit there peeling and eating, talking and laughing and on more than one occasion my little brother would be telling some off the wall story that he was making up as he’d go.  – My brother is pretty funny.

Gulf-Shrimp-March-2012-002Over the years, this shrimp for dinner “unofficial tradition” continued. It was never planned, it just happened.  Now 27 years later, I still think about shrimp for dinner on Christmas Eve. It is something I look forward to every year that I do make it home for Christmas.

8 years ago I moved to San Francisco and I still prefer gulf shrimp but it’s not as easy to come by. We do have some AMAZING seafood here but it’s not the same.
This year I received a very special gift.  10 pounds of gulf shrimp from Biloxi Mississippi arrived at my front door!  I was so excited that I was giggling out loud – yeah, yeah fine…… I was probably actually squealing with delight – I do that.

This year I will not be with my family but I will be celebrating Christmas Eve with Gulf Shrimp, Lemon & Garlic Butter and a little Cocktail sauce (with horseradish – it’s the best).  I will Skype with my family and send hugs and kisses and I will probably cry a little bit too.

I want to send very special thanks to Wild American Shrimp, for making this former Southern girl’s Christmas a little more “Traditional”.

Merry Christmas From The Sassy Kitchen.  I hope you all have a reason to be happy this holiday season.