What’s on YOUR family’s dinner table this holiday week?? I’d LOVE to know! Leave a comment and dish on your menu…

By September, my crew is already reminding me of the essential components of the Mira Christmas feast. Seriously! We love a good turkey-ham dinner, but by Christmas, we’ve seen enough of the ole’ roasted bird and pig with all the fixin’s.

Seeing that my hubby is of Italian descent, pasta of any kind is his favorite thing to eat. I grew up on Ragu, so I didn’t have a clue. I’ve spent years perfecting my from-scratch secret savory spaghetti sauce recipe, with plump, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, and luscious cheese-and-meat-stuffed manicotti. It’s ‘little Italy’ at the Mira home on Christmas.

The spicy-sweet aroma of simmering garlic has filled the house during the past 3-day cooking event. My daughter-in-law surprised me and popped in with Russian Tea Cakes for us to nibble and gave me three precious hours of her time helping with prep; chopping enough onions to choke the neighborhood, cracking eggs, forming meatballs and just being a friend while I measured spices, carefully filled each manicotti shell with the bulging pastry bag of yummy filling, and fried Italian sausages. The sausages are no small thing. They simmer in the sauce and flavor the entire meal, so I spare no expense, buying the best, least processed that money can buy. I confess I’m a perfectionist. One year while living in a new city, I conducted a blind taste test of 8 different brands of Italian sausage to find the winner for Christmas dinner. Truth.

While the spaghetti noodles boil, my fourth born will prepare his homemade Caesar salad dressing to toss with grated parmesan, and icy-crisp romaine. (Recipe below) Italian loaves will come out of the oven at the last moment, completing the meal with soft and chewy insides and a crunchy crust to slather in butter or dip into the sauce, aka ‘gravy’ as Italians call it. Mmm.

This isn’t just a meal, it’s a week-long event beginning with The Shopping List and ending with bright red placemats, and lots of smiling faces as steaming-hot, overflowing plates of pasta are served.

And one more thing…an Italian Christmas is a loud Christmas! The clamor of jovial banter and laughter is a part of the ambience. When the eating starts, though, you can almost hear a pin drop…

Amidst the hustle and bustle and merrymaking, I’m reminded of something etched on a Christmas card I received one year, ‘Things don’t make Christmas, people do.’ Christmas can’t be bought. It comes to life when we share it all with others, creating experiences and building happy memories.

That’s my wish for you. Make every moment count because we’ll blink and the calendar will turn to January 1st!

May the Christ of Christmas be your joy, your source, your substance and your solace in this season, and may you be refreshed by the relationships you hold dear, rather than drained by the demands of our culture.

I’ll close with a scripture I often reflect upon, and it’s especially appropriate at Christmas time with all the chatter about gifts and stuff.

“…one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

Ain’t it the truth.

Now, for that recipe I promised you!

Levi’s homemade caesar dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp anchovy paste

2-3 cloves garlic pressed

1 tsp worcestershire

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry mustard

juice of 1 whole lemon

1/2 – 3/4 cup grated parmesan

1 Head Romaine lettuce chopped

cracked pepper and croutons

Whir first 8 ingredients in a bullet or blender, toss as much dressing as you like with prepared lettuce and croutons, top with fresh cracked pepper and serve!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, there’s more…



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