FOR Raelene Joseph, the joy and mirth of the season begins with a huge family dinner on Christmas eve. Apart from the presents underneath the tree – she can’t wait to see if her husband got her the set of DVDs she’s been hinting at for the last six months – it’s the only time every year Joseph gets to see her three siblings who both live in Singapore.
And then there is the food.
“My mother cooks all of our favourite dishes for the Christmas eve dinner. I mean ALL.
“This actually makes for a really bizarre spread of food because our favourite dishes are quite wide-ranging: My brother loves my mum’s devil curry while his kids love her lasagna.
“My sister’s favourite dish is ikan bakar while my dad loves my mother’s roast chicken and potatoes. My favourite is her curry mee and my husband loves satay. So ...imagine all that and more on one table. It’s a wonder we don’t all end up with upset tummies on Christmas day!” says Joseph, 36.
Preparation for the big feast usually begins in the early hours of the 24th with everyone pitching in to help prepare the food.
“The men will prepare the meat for the satay and grill the fish. My sister and I will help with the preparation for all the other dishes ... there’s a lot of pounding, chopping and some yelling in the kitchen as everyone ends up in each other’s way. But that’s half the fun!” she says.
With so much food – there’s also the dessert table which has red velvet cake, jelly, butter cake, fruit cake and a whole range of cookies – the dinner usually lasts all night.
“We have dinner at seven and then the whole family goes to church for the midnight mass. Then, we come back and open our presents and eat some more,” she says.
Christmas day is a lot quieter, Joseph explains.
“We usually spend Christmas day entertaining guests. There isn’t a sit-down lunch or dinner ... we just snack on the cakes and cookies and there’s always the leftovers from the night before. Usually though, our tummies need to recover and we don’t eat too much.”
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