Merry Christmas Eve!

We’ll be busy around here preparing for the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes. This year’s menu includes smelts, scallops, tilapia, tuna, crab casserole, spaghetti with clams (white sauce) and spaghetti with mussels (red sauce). And for the vegetarian in our family, we’re also having broccoli casserole, egg plant rollatini (made with Trader Joe’s eggplant cutlets), tossed salad, provolone and roasted peppers and homemade guacamole.

And for dessert? These, among others of course!

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Food aside, if you’re looking for something to help you commemorate the real meaning of Christmas, The Nativity Story is one of the very best films ever made on the birth of Jesus Christ:

One of the things I love most about this movie is that it provides historical context and a realistic portrayal of life in ancient times. Opening with The Massacre of the Innocents ordered by King Herod, The Nativity Story then portrays the annunciation and birth of Jesus Christ — the foretold “King of the Jews” — whom Herod the Great sought to destroy. Mary, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, is presented realistically as a young teenager, which for people of faith is a remarkable reminder that the woman who unselfishly said “Yes” to God through his messenger angel Gabriel was not much more than a child herself.

The film also does a nice job showcasing the loving relationship between young Mary and her parents, while Oscar Isaac’s sympathetic portrayal of upstanding, humble and honorable Joseph — in an age where pregnant, unwed women were routinely stoned to death — underscores the character of the man selected to be Jesus’ earthly father.

Overall an excellent retelling of the Gospel story and a great way to take some time out to remember why we celebrate that Holy Night. Speaking of which, here’s a breathtaking rendition of that beloved Christmas carol.

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