Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and I think it started when I was a tiny child. My first Christmas I loved to sit and stare at the twinkling lights, according to my mom, and by my second Christmas, I was helping “decorate" the tree. For a short toddler, that meant putting all of the ornaments (all unbreakable, of course) in a small space on the tree. I always wanted to sleep on the couch during the holidays so that I could watch the lights all night long, and that’s a favorite thing of mine to this day. My first “real” memory of Christmas came when I was 5. I had wanted a Barbie motor home so badly, but I didn’t think it would come. I woke up Christmas Eve night needing some water and wandered into the kitchen; I heard something and continued my quest into our utility room only to find my parents putting together the bright yellow motor home! My mom was putting on the stickers as my footed-pajamaed, curly haired self rounded the doorway. The magic of Christmas was only strengthened that night, and I still have that motor home put up today. It’s one of those childhood memories I hope I never forget, and it’s one of those toys I hope to never part with.
Food was always another big part of our holiday. From ambrosia salad to my mom’s tea cakes, sweet potato casserole and cornbread dressing, it was all on the table. The star of the table, however, was shrimp creole. Growing up on the coast, we celebrated with seafood, and on Christmas, that meant the colorful medley of tomatoes, onions and peppers with succulent shrimp. The original version our family used was my grandmama’s, and it’s the version we still make today. I hope you all enjoy!