In my family, Christmas Eve is a bigger celebration than Christmas day, because we always had the traditional wigilia, the Polish Christmas Eve dinner.
While I was growing up, my grandmother, Babci, pulled out all the stops for wigilia (we always pronounced it veh-lee'-uh). She made homemade sauerkraut soup, pierogis, piroshki, and several kinds of seafood (always including Lobster tail).
The meatless meal was one of maybe two times a year that I recall eating from "the good china," and we drank from crystal water glasses that Babci had brought with her on the plane back from a visit to her homeland in the 70s.
But the best part of the wigilia meal, to me, are the piroshki.
Today my mother, who is Irish through and through, makes the wigilia. Babci taught her the recipe for the piroshki we've enjoyed my whole life. The two-inch, diamond-shaped dumplings are made with farmer's cheese mixed into the dough.
After making the dough, taking care not to overwork the flour, the dumplings are boiled so they hold their shape. But it's the finishing touch - when you go to re-heat them to serve - that the magic happens: they're cooked in melted butter and onions until they get a delicious golden-brown crust.
I knew my husband was a keeper when he came to his first wigilia, dug in, and then asked for more piroshki. Despite all the other fancy foods we have on the table, the humble piroski are my favorites, too.
May you and your family enjoy your Christmas celebrations, embracing the traditions - or making new ones - that infuse this holiday with personal meaning.