Food was everywhere, ranging from pork roasts and sweet potatoes to fried chicken with all the trimmings and of course, my favorite, desserts! Usually each of the families brought a homemade cake or candies fresh from the oven. Some, as in the case of my Mother, brought both. My favorite was my mom’s coconut cake and her pecan pralines. Mom had a knack for baking cakes, pies, and candies, and her coconut cake was so moist that it just melted in my mouth. She used pecans from the numerous trees in our back yard to make her holiday candies. There were whole pecans in her pralines and ground ones in her chocolate bonbons.
My mom’s youngest sister Patsy, married a man from Illinois who is of Greek heritage. She would make a Greek dessert to add to the table of goodies. I can’t recall the name, it was something like bubuska or bushy booka. I can’t tell you the proper name, but it sure was good! My aunt Helen would bring pastries from the French quarter in New Orleans and my uncle Pete, who lived in Texas, would have a case of “Lone Star” which we kids were not allowed to sample. I’m kind of glad because the grown-ups who did sample the beer usually ended up gagging and spitting it out! Of course, no Cajun Christmas was complete without homemade boudin or hog cracklins fresh from the pot.
Christmas eve, we passed out gifts. The grown-ups always pulled names a month before and gag gifts were usually included. One year, my mom wrapped an actual “hog tail” from one of the unfortunate pigs that was butchered for our feast. She gave it to her brother in law as a joke. I don’t think he liked it too well because he hurled a couple of choice expletives in “Cajun French,” grabbed his hat and off they went. Of course, everyone went out and gave him his real gift and they came back in and had fun.
After we opened gifts, the kids would go out and “pop fireworks.” We each had our little brown bag filled with goodies that could blow a couple of fingers clean off. There were “cherry bombs and silver salutes,” which have since been outlawed in most states. They were loud and dangerous, but we played with them anyway and managed to keep all of our fingers and toes intact. About ten o’clock, the festivities ended and we all went to our homes or beds for the night. We knew that the sooner we fell asleep, the sooner “Santa Claus” would visit and leave us the gifts that we asked for. He would also leave things we did not ask for. Stuff like underwear and socks. I guess Santa wanted to make sure we all had clean undies in case we got into an accident and had to go to the hospital. Isn’t he thoughtful? God bless y’all and have a great week!