My family was not particularly religious ( I never saw the inside of a church until I was almost a teenager - but that's another story). In spite of this, the Christmas Eve menu was devoid of meat. I believe it had something to do with fasting, a Papal decree or in our case, tradition. Be that as it may, on Christmas Eve, Baccala was the treat. Having observed that ugly fish frozen stiff on the front porch, I was sure that not even my Mom could make it fit for consumption. Sure enough, the first taste convinced me that baccala did not a Christmas make.
Suffice to say that my parents were not exactly pleased with my rejection of the centerpiece of Christmas Eve dinner. Mind you, there was a Depression going on. They began to wonder if the wrong child had been delivered to their home when I turned thumbs down on another Christmas Eve specialty - pasta con sarde. As far as I was concerned, pasta was meant to be served with meatballs and sausage not some picayune sardines.
Having rejected a good part of Christmas Eve dinner, I was sure my Christmas stocking would be filled with coal. I knew that my Christmas was doomed when I refused to eat the snails. As an adult I became fond of escargot ( probably because of the name) but as a youth I questioned the sanity of anyone wanting to eat a snail.
Before the evening was over I did manage to get some food into a barking stomach. The cannoli were great as well as the nuts and fruit.
As for Christmas present, pass the nuts but hold the baccala. Buono Natale!