A Chinese American family Christmas

Two cultures, one big day. My mother didn't really know how to or cared for traditional American holiday fare. Roasts, turkeys and hams weren't her thing. After all, these were difficult to prepare in a wok.

So, we went with a massive Chinese feast: Winter melon soup, handmade dumplings, a roast duck, noodles, a whole braised fish, a clay pot bubbling with stewed meats and vegetables, sauteed Chinese cabbage.

Overnight, mom would simmer a pot of congee on the stove: a bone broth from scratch, Chinese mushrooms, savory bits of Chinese sausage.

After presents on Christmas day, we would take turns going to the simmering pot on the stove and filling out bowls with the amazing congee that was now rich and comforting.

Over the remainder of the Christmas holiday, there were other treats as well: handmade onion pancakes, little won tons, fresh egg rolls stuffed with all kinds of goodness.

When Christmas was over, the gifts and the good cheer were what remained, as well as the memory of meals that linger for a lifetime.

And guess what: Chinese New Year was just around the corner. Turns out mom was just warming up with Christmas!